Reading early fragments

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Redhead
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Reading early fragments

Post by Redhead » Sun Jun 16, 2019 5:45 pm

Salvete! I'm reading through Conte's "Latin Literature: A History" and the actual texts parallel in latin based on the bibliography on each section and stuff found online. The goal is to have this as a side project in my more serious study of greek. I've made it through the fragments of Livius Andronicus and Gnaeus Naevius is soon finished, but I'm not very experienced in reading fragments and I'm not particularly good in Latin(about 60 ECTS; In Greek, I'm closing up on half a million words). I've relied heavily on the Loeb edition and used the editions via PHI Latin Texts(often the same as those mentioned in Conte). I like that Loeb gives a piece from the actual sources where the fragments are collected(even though the greek text is a bit unreliable; I've already found two obvious missprints in the online edition), but I don't like that I can't be sure to have all the fragments in Loeb and I wonder if I should go about in a different manner. Do you have any proposals? I just want to read latin literature in chronological order from the beginning as completely as possible. How would you have gone about that? Is there any resources for this that Conte does not mention?

Callisper
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Re: Reading early fragments

Post by Callisper » Tue Jun 18, 2019 12:04 am

Your proposal sounds good given your aim and reading-level.

If you are not married to the idea of running chronological from the start, I do think you could make the process easier and richer for yourself by raising your Latin ability first before reading fragmentary early poets.

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seneca2008
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Re: Reading early fragments

Post by seneca2008 » Tue Jun 18, 2019 12:52 pm

I just want to read latin literature in chronological order from the beginning as completely as possible. How would you have gone about that?
I wonder what you hope to get out of this approach? Fragments are perhaps only understandable in relation to existing surviving literature. On their own they are pretty meaningless. The study of things like Republican Tragedy is a specialist subject which presupposes wide reading and considerable expertise in Latin.

I agree with Callisper it would be better to improve your Latin so that later on you are able to tackle the fragments with a more critical and informed eye.

Redhead
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Re: Reading early fragments

Post by Redhead » Tue Jun 18, 2019 7:39 pm

Having now gone through Andronicus and Naevius, I definitely see your point. It was hard, boring and not very rewarding(and as I understand, a little dangerous, given the faults of the old Loeb edition). But it still feels good to at least have had a personal acquaintance with them, and have had a feel for what we have left of them, even though I count the details thereof gained as worth absolutely nothing and I do not fancy that I could make any points based on them in my current state of knowledge. You are right, it's for experts, not me! At least I know that ;)

But it's time for Plautus now, in Conte's order, so now I'll be occupied for a while. I've read Conte and I've decided to only use Loeb as my base text and not to care about eventual "left-overs". Have any of you used Erin Kristine Moodie's commentary on Poenulus and Keith Maclennan and Walter Stockert's commentary on Aulularia? Do you have any other recommendation for commentaries you've found useful? What do you think of de Melo's introduction in Loeb? I noticed that one of the reviews thought of it as his weakest point.

Redhead
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Re: Reading early fragments

Post by Redhead » Tue Jun 18, 2019 7:48 pm

Callisper wrote:
Tue Jun 18, 2019 12:04 am

If you are not married to the idea of running chronological from the start, I do think you could make the process easier and richer for yourself by raising your Latin ability first before reading fragmentary early poets.
Sorry, I'm fanatically obsessed with the idea. I spend basically 14-15 hours a day reading, and having escaped the straitjacket of preordained and piecemeal curricula, I'm doin' things MY way. ;)

But wouldn't Plautus do then? I assumed that by "raising your... ability" you ment reading more Cicero and Caesar, but why not Plautus?

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Re: Reading early fragments

Post by mwh » Tue Jun 18, 2019 9:13 pm

Why not Plautus indeed? But if you set out to read all the surviving Plautine plays you will certainly get surfeited well before you finish them. The same goes for Cicero and Caesar, and Livy, and others. And I can only pity people who can bring themselves to read all of Silius Italicus. I recommend Statius’ epics (a minority taste), but only when you know the Aeneid back to front and upside down. And even if you already knew Latin It would take you more than a lifetime to reach even the second century.

So I urge selectivity.

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Barry Hofstetter
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Re: Reading early fragments

Post by Barry Hofstetter » Wed Jun 19, 2019 10:05 am

mwh wrote:
Tue Jun 18, 2019 9:13 pm
Why not Plautus indeed? But if you set out to read all the surviving Plautine plays you will certainly get surfeited well before you finish them.
The best way to read Plautus is to watch "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum...." :D
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mwh
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Re: Reading early fragments

Post by mwh » Wed Jun 19, 2019 9:20 pm

From which we infer that Barry does not read Plautus, or he would not say such a ridiculous thing.

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Barry Hofstetter
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Re: Reading early fragments

Post by Barry Hofstetter » Fri Jun 21, 2019 5:32 pm

mwh wrote:
Wed Jun 19, 2019 9:20 pm
From which we infer that Barry does not read Plautus, or he would not say such a ridiculous thing.
From which we can infer that MWH perhaps himself lacks a sense of humor, or perhaps that his formidable competence doesn't extend to seeing the tongue-in-cheek implicit in my post, or even that he has never seen the movie. The movie, combing elements of at least three different Plautine plays, captures a great deal for the modern audience of what a Roman audience might have experienced as they saw one of the plays performed. The short unit I do on Roman comedy toward the end of the year for my Latin 4's includes preparation in learning about the stock characters and themes, identifying them in the movie (and a bit of discussion on the difference that the translation to film makes), and then reading and comparing an actual play of Plautus.

It would be rather undignified to list the plays I've read in Latin, but suffice it to say that it's more than one and less than the entire corpus.
N.E. Barry Hofstetter
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Callisper
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Re: Reading early fragments

Post by Callisper » Fri Jun 21, 2019 7:42 pm

mwh wrote:
Tue Jun 18, 2019 9:13 pm
Why not Plautus indeed? But if you set out to read all the surviving Plautine plays you will certainly get surfeited well before you finish them. The same goes for Cicero and Caesar, and Livy, and others. And I can only pity people who can bring themselves to read all of Silius Italicus. I recommend Statius’ epics (a minority taste), but only when you know the Aeneid back to front and upside down. And even if you already knew Latin It would take you more than a lifetime to reach even the second century.

So I urge selectivity.
I'm really not sure this is the case / that I agree. All the writers you mentioned are worth reading back to front, particularly if one's goal is as much contact with Latin literature as possible. I might be more inclined to agree that someone like Pliny may be sampled selectively but no-one's classical education is complete without reading (all of) Caesar. Nor - if I am aware of the literature that's out there - would it take a lifetime (or anywhere close) to reach the second century.

One can come up with more interesting things to read, perhaps, (in other languages,) than Silius or all of Plautus, and certainly much of superior literary merit. Someone whose interest is purely literary and does not extend to an intrinsic love for the language itself would be better off sampling such writers and spending more time with other literary canons. Yet I take it for granted that for the OP and others a certain mystique and attraction is held purely on account of their antiquity, and that the very fact they are written in Latin should proffer a degree of motivation to a classical student. Given such conditions, it is no great ask to read all of Silius (or Plautus). A capable Latinist with 14-15 hours a day should take only a few days to read up Punica, or at any rate not more than a week.

I personally read several (8-9?) Plautus plays on my (more-or-less) first contact with him, and would have happily kept going had other demands not imposed themselves. Someone with the freedom the OP seems to have could go further.

I would remark in closing that someone with the fortitude to read a hundred pages of fragmentary early Latin should definitely have the stamina for a task like reading all of Plautus (let alone Caesar). And I would hope he can proceed to reach, and then complete, Silius (and beyond). To do so is a far lesser task than that other thread-starter set himself when he announced his intentions of reading the entire TLG. You think Cicero gets boring, try John Chrysostom.

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