Duke Wiki  logo
Child pages
  • LAT 103 Syllabus (Janan)
Skip to end of metadata
Go to start of metadata

Latin 103:  Latin Epic---Ovid's Metamorphoses (Fall 2009)
MW 2:50-4:05 pm - Perkins 2-085

Instructor:  Dr. Micaela Janan
Office Hours:  5:45-6:45 pm M, 7-8 pm W and by appointment


This course is designed to help you

(a) improve the facility, confidence, and speed with which you read Latin verse

b) understand Ovid, a poet from the first generation after the demise of the Roman Republic. To that end we shall read aloud, translate, and discuss selections from the Metamorphoses.

The goal--besides achieving a better understanding of this author and his period--is to progress beyond translating so that as to begin to read (= translating literally but sensibly).  You should begin to appreciate a word's full semantic range such that you do not always translate a given word in precisely the same way, and feel comfortable with the way that Latin works at the level of the sentence rather than the individual term.

I shall assign approximately 60-80 lines of poetry per class at first, then work up to larger assignments.

The Metamorphoses: Whose Myths?

Since we'll be reading the premier source for ancient myth as it was transmitted to Western Europe--to Dante, Petrarch, Shakespeare, Milton and the rest--we'll also be considering the significance of myth per se, both in the Graeco-Roman and modern worlds.  The flexibility of myth offered a convenient matrix for Romans and Greeks to negotiate national identities in light of Rome's increasing ascendancy over the Mediterranean world.  That ascendancy Horace encapsulated as "Graecia capta ferum uictorem cepit et artis intulit agresti Latio" ("Captive Greece conquered her wild conqueror and brought the arts into uncouth Latium").  A Greece politically under Rome's thumb nonetheless preserved a cultural status fascinating to her captors. She also terrified insofar as she threatened to seduce the Romans out of their Romanness.   Mythology is one particularly dynamic transcultural "contact zone" wherein the prolonged tug-of-war between these two cultures played out. There we can see what Mary Beard describes as the quiddity of Roman culture: "The central, essential paradox of that culture was precisely its incorporability within Greek norms and its insistent refusal to construct itself in those terms."  Some questions we'll be asking are: What are myths?  How do we read them?  What social functions do they perform?  Can we identify modern myths? By what criteria, and why?

Required Texts:

Ovid's Metamorphoses, Books 1-5, William S. Anderson, ed., ISBN 9780806128948, Pub: Oklahoma Un. Press, Year: 1996

Elementary Latin Dictionary  
Charlton T. Lewis      ISBN 0199102058, Pub: OXFORD

An English translation of the Metamorphoses, your choice. I like Rolfe Humphries' translation, which is available in a very inexpensive paperback, and ought to be in a lot of the local used bookstores, since I've been assigning it for years.

Metamorphoses, Ovid.  1955.  Translated by Rolfe Humphries.  Indiana University Press (June 1955).  ISBN-13: 978-0253200013.

But if another translation appeals to you, use that one.


¿    Participation: 15% (including class attendance, in-class translation, preparedness)
¿    Quizzes: 55% (11% each x 5)
¿    Paper: 30% (3 versions, plus oral presentation---5% draft 1; 10% draft 2 + oral presentation; 15% final version)

See detailed description of grading standards below


¿    Attendance in class is mandatory.  It is also mandatory that you come to class prepared, on-time, and ready to participate.  Please contact me ahead of time via email if you expect to miss class due to illness, religious observance, and/or university-endorsed extracurricular activities (give me as much notice as possible).
¿    I shall not give make-up quizzes, or accept late assignments, unless I have consented to specific arrangements with you beforehand.

Instructions for all Homework:

¿    Specific homework assignments will be posted on Blackboard.   
¿    Homework is due on the day, and in the class session, for which it is assigned.
¿    You must WRITE OUT all translations. Look up words and grammar you don't know.
¿    You will be required to know vocabulary for quizzes, so be sure to memorize vocabulary as you move along.    


A good dictionary will be essential to this class. That is why I have ordered Lewis's Elementary Latin Dictionary as a required textbook. But the OLD (below) is sometimes necessary to consult.

Oxford Latin Dictionary.  P. G. W. Glare.  1983.  Oxford:  Oxford University
Press (The pre-eminent Latin dictionary, this book is very expensive and not very portable, but useful for anyone seriously pursuing Latin as a course of study.  For others, I recommend using the copy of this dictionary at Perkins or in the Department of Classical Studies library).

Whatever the text with which you learned introductory Latin, you should have it with you for reference, since that will be the guide with which you are most familiar. Other helpful texts are:

English Grammar for Students of Latin, by Norma Goldman (ISBN: 0934034346)
Especially helpful if you feel a bit rusty on the subject of grammar generally.

A Latin Grammar by William Gardner Hale and Carl D. Buck (ISBN: 0817303502).  A scholarly but accessible grammar; it has convenient, full tables of the various uses for moods, cases, etc., along with examples of each use drawn from Latin authors.  It's available pretty cheaply from Barnes and Noble online and at other booksellers' websites.

Websites for comparing online book prices:

http://www.addall.com/ (used and new)

http://www.alibris.com/ (used)

Useful Web-pages:

The Perseus Digital Library: Among a wealth of other materials, it contains a Latin text of the Metamorphoses; though not exactly the same text we use in class, it is similar. Every word in the on-line text is linked to a tool that will parse forms and point you to the Lewis & Short dictionary entry.  Perseus' lexical tools are imperfect; sometimes common words will be said not to exist in the dictionary. For that among other reasons, Perseus cannot substitute for memorization and for the ability to parse forms, such that you can find the forms' dictionary entries.


The Latin Library: No grammatical helps, but complete texts of most "canonical" Latin authors (if, say, you want quickly to compare a line of Ovid with a line of Vergil, or you've forgotten your textbook in your dorm room and want to work on your translation)



¿    Translation: The goal is to translate the assignments for each meeting accurately, idiomatically and fluently in advance.  That requires you to look up all the words you don't know and write down their meanings, investigate grammatical mysteries, read Anderson's commentary---in short, make every effort to render a smooth translation in class.  If you are not fully prepared, your translation grade for that day is at least halved (if not worse, depending on how unprepared you are).  Being absent means your translation grade is "zero" for that day (no "make-ups").

The same expectations of accuracy and idiomatic fluency pertain to your translations of the Latin passages set for quizzes.

¿    Participation:

¿    A      You attend regularly; always have the assignments prepared; have insightful, informed things to say.
¿    B     You attend regularly; frequently have the assignments prepared; speak thoughtfully and on topic.
¿    C     You attend regularly, have the assignments prepared, but rarely speak, or speak not to the purpose.
¿    D     You attend sporadically, rarely have the assignments prepared, and do not contribute.
¿    F     You have exceeded the maximum number of allowed absences (three [3]).

¿    Attendance: Should you have more than three absences (for whatever reason: illness, out of town, over-slept, had to leave early for Fall Break, etc.), your attendance and participation grade will fall by one letter grade for each subsequent absence.  The only exceptions to this are matters that fall under the dean's list of excused absences due to team sports, long-term illness and the like.  See the T-Reqs portion of the Arts & Sciences website for Dean's Excuse guidelines (http://www.aas.duke.edu/trinity/t-reqs/deansexcuse.html ).

¿    Paper:

¿    A      The paper contains something--creativity, insight, rigor--that goes above and beyond the requirements of the assignment. Default 95%. The paper tackles a particularly challenging problem or brings an unusual and enlightening perspective to a familiar theme.
¿    B     The paper meets the announced requirements for the assignment, and does a good job of it. Default, 85%. The paper states a strong thesis and defends it with clear, logical, orderly argument. The direction of the paper is clear from beginning to end. Problems of form, style, syntax, or mechanics are few. The paper is most likely not a first draft. The paper may present engaging, original ideas clumsily or treat a mundane subject with stylistic finesse.
¿    C     The paper meets the announced requirements for the assignment. Default, 75%. The paper states a thesis, advances an argument and refers to the assigned texts. It is a satisfactory paper. It may suffer from a weak thesis; the argument may be supported by insufficient citation of specific passages; the prose may exhibit frequent mechanical problems.
¿    D     The paper accomplishes something. Default, 65%. The paper may be too short and/or pad with huge block quotations; it may summarize and describe rather than argue; and it may suffer from serious mechanical problems.
¿    F     The paper accomplishes nothing. Maximum 55%. Assigned in the following circumstances:

     the paper is not turned in (0%),
     the paper has been plagiarized (0%),
     the paper contains no citations from primary (and, where appropriate, secondary) sources (55%), or
     the paper's ideas, organization, mechanics, and style fall so far beneath acceptable college writing that it would be impossible in good conscience to assign it a higher grade (55%)

Please note: Completion of the assignment does not secure an "A." An "A" represents exceptional ability and application. This grading scheme is designed to reward intellectual engagement and risk-taking, careful proofreading, and revision. It is possible to receive a good grade in this class without ever receiving an "A" on a paper.¿


I have not mapped out exact line numbers to guide progress week by week. I have regularly found such prospectuses to become hopelessly outdated within a few weeks.  Also, such precise maps do not allow for the class's developing interests to guide future selections.  If you miss class for some reason and cannot find the next assignment on Blackboard, E-MAIL ME A.S.A.P. TO FIND IT OUT.












Please note that I reserve the right to change this syllabus if I feel it is pedagogically necessary to do so. The one thing I shall never do is to reschedule an examination or quiz for a date earlier than originally planned.

  • No labels