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Semester 1

Ancient Didactic Poetry (CLTR10018)


Classical Literature in Translation





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Visiting students must have completed 3 Classics courses at grade B or above (at least 2 of which should be in Classical Literature), including an equivalent to Classical Literature 2: Greek and Roman Epic (CLTR08008). We will only consider University/College level courses. **Please see Additional Restrictions below**

Course Summary

The Greek and Roman texts studied in this course (in translation) are referred to as 'didactic' poems because they set out ostensibly to teach a specific skill or branch of knowledge, e.g., justice (Hesiod), Epicurean philosophy (Lucretius), farming (Virgil), and techniques in courtship and seduction (Ovid). The course will situate these poems in their literary, philosophical and socio-political contexts. Attention will be given to how each successive poet handles a range of themes, including myth and religion, the origins and development of mankind, and the human propensity for love and war.

Course Description

The didactic poems studied in this course will typically include Hesiod's Works and Days, Lucretius' On the Nature of the Universe, Virgil's Georgics, and Ovid's Art of Love. The teaching programme will approach these texts in chronological order (for the reason that the didactic tradition is a cumulative one in which each author engages closely with his predecessors). Within this structure, lectures and tutorials will aim to understand didactic as a genre and to practise certain critical methodologies of use in its study, with close analysis of selected texts and tutorial-style discussion of wider themes and contexts. The following eleven-week schedule (which may change according to the interests of the lecturer) will indicate the shape of the course in any given year: 1. Introduction: didactic and epic; 2. Hesiod's Works and Days: structure and themes; 3. Hesiodic myth; 4. Hellenistic Didactic (Aratus, Nicander, Callimachus): more than a jeu d'esprit?; 5. Lucretius' De Rerum Natura: philosophical and literary sources; 6. Lucretius: atoms and void; the soul and death; epistemology; love; civilization and the world; 7. Virgil's Georgics: 'labor' and Italy; 8. Virgil: 'amor' and politics; 9. Ovid's Ars Amatoria: elegiac and didactic traditions; 10. Ovid's lessons on politics and society; 11. Overview and conclusion

Assessment Information

Written Exam 60%, Coursework 40%, Practical Exam 0%

Additional Restrictions

Unless you are nominated on a Classics or HCA exchange agreement, visiting students are only permitted to enrol in two 3rd year Classics courses each, per semester, before the start of the relevant semester’s welcome period – and spaces on each course are limited so cannot be guaranteed for any student. Enrolment in a third course from this group will depend on whether there are still spaces available in the September Welcome Period, and cannot be guaranteed. It is NOT appropriate for students to contact staff within this subject area to ask for an exception to be made; all enquiries to enrol in these courses must be made through the CAHSS Visiting Student Office. This is due to the extremely limited number of spaces available in this very popular subject area.

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All course information obtained from this visiting student course finder should be regarded as provisional. We cannot guarantee that places will be available for any particular course. For more information, please see the visiting student disclaimer:

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