JOB: Greek Lit @ Corpus Christi (1 year)

Seen on the Classicists list:


Corpus Christi College proposes to appoint a fixed-term Lecturer in Classics
for the academic year 2012-13. The Lecturer will be required to teach for
the undergraduate classics degrees for up to 8 hours weekly: the need is
primarily for a specialist in Greek literature, but there will be some
literary teaching in Latin, as well as language teaching in both Latin and
Greek. The Lecturer will be expected to assist in the administration of
Classics and provide pastoral care to Classics students; he/she may also be
required to participate in admissions. The Lecturer may also be asked to
deliver up to sixteen lectures for the Faculty at no extra payment.

The Lecturer will receive a pensionable salary in the range of £24,520 –
27,578, full High Table rights for the academic year 2012-13 and an
entertainment allowance. He/she will be entitled to shared use of a
teaching room in College but not to accommodation.

Further particulars can be obtained on the College’s website: Applications should be submitted, by email
(preferably in pdf format), to AT and should
include a letter of application, a description of your teaching experience
plus a list of the papers you could teach, two items of written work,
published or unpublished, and a curriculum vitae. Applications should be
received not later than Tuesday 29 May 2012. Referees should be asked to
write directly, by email, to: AT; their references
to be received by not later than 29 May. Interviews will be held in Oxford
the week beginning 11 June.

The College is an equal opportunity employer.

Latin in the park in Wales

Seen on the Classicists list:

The Department of History and Classics at Swansea University, The South West Wales Classical Association and The Iris Project present the very first Latin in the Park in Wales!
Beginner and Advanced Latin courses are being taught by Swansea University students in Singleton Park every Saturday in June and July.

The beginner course caters for people who have never done Latin before. The focus will be on learning the basic grammatical principles and reading some nice and easy texts adapted from Roman authors.

The advanced course caters for people who have some knowledge of Latin, e.g. who studied it in school or some time in the past. In this course, passages from two unadapted texts will be read and discussed. In the first four classes, a Latin prose text will read, in the following five classes, a poetry text, though this can be adapted to the wishes of the group.

For further details please visit

CJ Online Review: Strunk on Kapust, Republicanism, Rhetoric and Roman Political Thought

Posted with permission:

Daniel J. Kapust, Republicanism, Rhetoric, and Roman Political Thought: Sallust, Livy, and Tacitus. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011. Pp. viii + 196. Hardcover, £55.00/$85.00. ISBN 978-1-107-00057-5.

Reviewed by Thomas E. Strunk, Xavier University

Over the last decade there has been a revival in the study of republicanism and rhetoric.[[1]] Kapust’s primary contribution is the application of these recent studies to the Roman historians. In addition, Kapust interprets the historians in light of early modern political philosophy, particularly Hobbes and Machiavelli. To fill out the political and rhetorical thought, Kapust reads all the historians along with Cicero and heavy doses of Aristotle and Plato. The range of thought engaged by Kapust—ancient, modern, and contemporary—provides a rich background for reading the Roman historians as political thinkers.

Kapust’s introduction reviews the latest scholarship on republicanism and rhetorical theory succinctly and without jargon. Further, he argues for their legitimate application to Sallust, Livy, and Tacitus. Chapters two and three focus on Sallust. The first of these calls into question Sallust’s commitment to republican politics. Kapust presents his argument through Hobbes’ reading of Sallust, particularly their ambivalent views on the place of oratory in the state, hence Kapust’s description of Sallust as an ambiguous republican. Kapust, however, goes on in Chapter three to lay the framework for Sallust’s republicanism, which he argues depends upon channeling the tensions and strife introduced by republican politics in a productive manner. For Sallust, oratory potentially functioned as the means for peacefully resolving competing interests and virtues. Kapust formulates this argument largely through his analysis of the speeches of Caesar and Cato in Sallust’s War with Catiline. Kapust devotes Chapter four to Livy, whom he describes as prioritizing concordia and benevolentia over the strife prevalent in Sallust. For Livy, these virtues are contingent upon a strong sense of the common good and the trust between the different orders of society.

Chapters four and five address Tacitus’ views on rhetoric and political thought. These two chapters come across as the least original of the book and are the only two where the ancient writer is not paired with a modern political thinker, which is unfortunate given Tacitus’ well-documented influence on early modern political thought. Chapter four contrasts the Agricola and the Dialogus and their protagonists, Agricola and Maternus, who represent exempla to emulate and avoid respectively. Kapust’s study suffers here from a lack of nuance in interpreting Maternus’ character. There have been many good arguments put forth over the past two decades for reading Maternus’ speech as ironic critique. Although he cites Bartsch (1994), who is a leading proponent of the figured-speech reading, Kapust reads Maternus’ words seemingly at face value as praise of the princeps. The critique is not so much that Kapust comes down on one side or another of a reading but rather that he does not acknowledge the controversy, which in turn has implications for his entire study.

Chapter five examines how Tacitus portrays appropriate political engagement in the Historiae and Annales. The argument here is the familiar one of Tacitus the moderate who shuns both contumacia and obsequium. For Kapust, Tacitus’ primary virtue is prudentia. While it is not easy to argue against this analysis, one wishes that Kapust had investigated some of Tacitus’ ambiguities, such as his praise of obsequium in the Agricola (42.4) and his critique of it in the Annales (4.20.3). Moreover, Kapust focuses almost solely on Tacitus’ emperors and overlooks important figures such as Marcus Lepidus and Thrasea Paetus, both of whom figure greatly in Tacitus’ conception of proper and effective political activity under the Principate.

Kapust approaches his study as a political scientist rather than a philologist, which has benefits and drawbacks. One virtue is Kapust’s willingness to view the historians as political thinkers and not as politicians. Traditionally, the politics of the Roman historians have been analyzed through their political activity and their relationships with prominent politicians and emperors.[[2]] Kapust’s approach here is a breath of fresh air as it avoids speculation on, say, whether Tacitus was appointed consul by Domitian or Nerva and the consequences thereof. Thus, readers will find Sallust and Livy juxtaposed respectively with Hobbes and Machiavelli rather than Caesar and Augustus. The drawback to Kapust’s non-philological approach is that his readings at times can come across as naïve to the trained classicist, as mentioned above regarding the Dialogus.

The book as a whole is very well written and engaging to read. Kapust helpfully signposts where his arguments are going and how each chapter relates to the entire study. Each chapter begins with an introduction, which is then followed by an examination of Cicero and usually another political philosopher; the latter half of the chapter is then devoted to the particular Roman historian in question. The text is largely error free and well-cited, although the classicist may regret the lack of quotations in Latin. The body of the book comes in at a concise 175 pages, certainly leaving space for quoting primary texts in both English translation and Latin, even if the latter is to be relegated to footnotes.

It is both a critique and a compliment to write that I wish Kapust had included a stand-alone chapter on Cicero’s political and rhetorical thought. Although Kapust by design and with skill weaves into every chapter Cicero’s influence on each historian, this approach only offers a piecemeal understanding of Cicero. Kapust has written an important study for both classicists and political scientists; a chapter on Cicero under Kapust’s perceptive analysis would have only enhanced the book’s value.


[[1]] See Philip Pettit, A Theory of Freedom: From Psychology to the Politics of Agency (Oxford, 2001); Quentin Skinner, Hobbes and Republican Liberty (Cambridge, 2008); Joy Connolly, The State of Speech: Rhetoric and Political Thought in Ancient Rome (Princeton, 2007); and Robert Morstein-Marx, Mass Oratory and Political Power in the Late Roman Republic (Cambridge, 2004).

[[2]] See the various studies of Sir Ronald Syme, Tacitus (Oxford, 1958); “Livy and Augustus,” HSCP 64 (1959) 27-87; Sallust (Berkeley, 1964).

CJ Online Review: Knox on Robinson, A Commentary on Ovid’s Fasti Book 2

posted with permission:

Matthew Robinson, A Commentary on Ovid’s Fasti, Book 2. Oxford Classical Monographs. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2010. Pp. xiv + 572. Hardcover, £100.00/$165.00. ISBN 978-0-19-958939-5.

Reviewed by Peter E. Knox, University of Colorado

Within the past twelve years, three books of the Fasti have been equipped with substantial commentaries in English: E. Fantham, Ovid: Fasti, Book 4 (Cambridge, 1998); S. J. Green, Ovid. Fasti 1: A Commentary (Leiden, 2004); and R. J. Littlewood, A Commentary on Ovid: Fasti Book VI (Oxford, 2006). With the appearance of this volume, only Books 3 and 5 are now available to any would-be commentator who minds the gap. Robinson’s volume is a useful addition to the resources available to the student investigating the context for Ovid’s calendar poem, with a great deal of information on the historical, religious, and astronomical background. It is less informative, however, on the literary context. It is also notably lacking on questions both metrical and lexical, and thus will be less helpful to readers interested in the poetry of the Fasti, but that should not detract from the overall utility of Robinson’s contribution. After all, no one cannot be expected to whack every mole, especially in a revised dissertation.

The general introduction is brief at only twenty pages in three sections, referring us to the introductions of its recently published brethren rather than repeating information to be found there. Robinson limits himself in the first section to a few comments about generic play in Fasti and the Augustan milieu. Here he explains his use of the terms “suspicious reader” in referring to interpretations with negative inferences about the political context, and “supportive reader” to characterize interpretations in harmony with Augustan propaganda. It is not immediately clear that these represent an improvement on other terminology—even Robinson concedes that it is unclear what is being “supported”—but they are no worse. The second section on the astronomical content is certainly helpful, while the third section of less than a page on the text is not. A concordance listing the places where Robinson differs from the text of Alton, Wormell and Courtney (1977) would have been of more use. The text itself follows, without the calendrical divisions interpolated by modern editors, an improvement which one may hope will be adopted in future editions. The second appendix, which correlates the contents of Book 2 with events from the Roman calendar, is a more helpful way of relating Ovid’s Fasti to the fasti.

The commentary is hefty—474 pages for Ovid’s 864 lines. Much of the bulk is devoted to assembling material on the historical, mythological and astronomical contexts of the poem, all of it helpful and intelligently digested. There is also ample discussion of literary controversies, with considerable space devoted to doxographies. These are typically presented in a reportorial mode that tends to mask Robinson’s own views, e.g. “McKeown saw this … Herbert-Brown argues … Littlewood similarly sees … Hinds stresses …” (p. 139). One might wish for a more straightforward exposition of the commentator’s own view that refers to others’, rather than stitching them together. Textual criticism is not a focus of the commentary and the notes devoted to it can be somewhat diffuse: for example, on 722 the discussion of lentas versus longas (p. 465) is a rather long-winded alternative to stating that he prefers the lectio difficilior. Notes on diction are not the volume’s strong point. What does it mean, for example, to say (p. 65) that “the phrase equus bellator is not found before Vergil, and is quite at home in epic” without explaining the resonance of the form in –tor and its use as an adjective? Or to say (p. 97) that delubris and templa (p. 97) are both poetic plurals, when the former is normally plural in prose as well as poetry? The notes on points of metrical style are perfunctory and do little to contextualize Ovid’s practice in the Fasti: for instance, the remarks on a Greek proper noun spondaic line end in 275 only lists “other spondaic verse endings of this kind” without reference and adds, “this all helps to emphasize the Greek feel of the passage” (p. 213). One cannot help but feel that there is scope for another work with a focus on the poetic texture and literary context of the book. In the treatment of the Arion episode, for example, Robinson diligently assembles the extant sources in his introductory note, but it might be said that he elides a number of questions that arise about literary antecedents and intertextual connections that the text poses. It is not always necessary to genuflect to recent scholarship on intertextuality when a poet signals an allusion, but one may wonder if more is signaled by memorant in 114 (p. 134) than an awareness of Herodotus.

That dispenses with the quibbles, which are an inescapable concomitant of any review of a very good commentary. There is a great deal of useful information in Robinson’s volume, assembled with judgment and presented intelligently. It will be an essential starting point for scholarship on the Fasti and is a worthy complement to the commentaries already on the shelf.

CJ Online Review: von Glinski on Kenney, Ovidio Metamorfosi IV

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E. J. Kenney, ed., Ovidio: Metamorfosi, Volume IV (Libri VII–IX). Translation by Gioachino Chiarini. Milan: Fondazione Lorenzo Valla/Arnaldo Mondadori, 2011. Pp. lxxii + 484. Hardcover, €30.00. ISBN 978-88-04-60424-2.

Reviewed by Marie Louise von Glinski, New York University

With the fourth volume of this ongoing commentary project, the torch passes from Italy to England, and to E. J. Kenney. Kenney’s style is more soberly traditional than that of his predecessors, and represents a different outlook on what a commentary is designed to do. While Kenney is sensitive to issues of narratology that feature so heavily in these books, especially in Book 8, he generally refrains from talking about larger themes, pointing readers to the relevant, up-to-date literature instead. A general introduction ranges over the whole of the Metamorphoses, which Kenney calls an epic of the human spirit, embodied in particular in its heroines who outshine their male counterparts. The section on Ovid’s style whets the appetite for the commentary proper, displaying Kenney’s considerable finesse.

The text is based on Tarrant’s 2004 OCT edition, with forty deviations. Kenney restores lines expunged by Tarrant (7.522, 9.111, 147–8, 179, 777) and transposes others (inverting 9.111–2, 524–5). All instances are discussed in detail in the commentary, spelling out the various options, sometimes even with translations. Kenney cautions against overconfidence in restoring a perfect text, borne out by the existence of “double versions,” especially in Book 8. The only place where I find myself in real disagreement with Kenney’s choices comes at 8.266 where he relies uncharacteristically on mere common sense (and Bömer) to argue for acervis over Tarrant’s acerris. Would the Athenians unceremoniously pile up incense precious enough to be dealt out by the grain elsewhere (Fast. 2.753)? Props of garlands and caskets are also mentioned in one breath as prohibited at funerals by the sumptuary legislation of the Twelve Tables (Cic. Leg. 2.60; cf. coronantur, Met. 8.264), an anachronistic restriction lifted from the Athenians now that they are freed from the Minotaur.

Kenney’s clarity and helpfulness are exemplary, and he is not above providing grammatical help or translations of individual phrases or explaining such epic conventions as “frozen time” (masterfully done at 9.120–6). All Greek and many of the Latin parallels are translated as well.

Medea looms large over Book 7 even as Apollonius Rhodius’ epic is drastically condensed. Even so, her persona threatens to overwhelm Ovid’s Callimachean poetics, a danger narrowly avoided by making her travel through the air for a telescoped view on myths not told (but supplied by Kenney)[[1]] while the murder of her children takes only four lines. Ovid’s sovereign skimming over literary history contrasts with the anxious circumnavigation of Circe’s island in Aeneid 7.10–24. As Medea traverses Rhodes (Phoebeamque Rhodon, 7.365) and the Telchines in her flight, a pun on Apollonius as much as on Helios as Medea’s auctores seems to be suggested by the Italian translation (Rodi apollinea) but receives no comment.

Just as important for Kenney is the intertext with the self-aware Heroides (he regards Heroides 12 as authentic, pace Knox) so that questions of divine motivation become nothing but literary rationalization (Kenney’s dry riposte to Medea’s nescioquis deus 7.12: “ovviamente Amore, come poi amette implicitamente”). Medea is the first in a line of exceedingly literary heroines which culminates in the bookish Byblis whom Kenney makes out to be a Madame Bovary avant la lettre (her selective reading, ignoring Euripides, leads to her downfall, 9.507–8) and whose own letter-writing contributes yet another piece to the genre puzzle of the Metamorphoses.
Crises of authority pervade these books from Theseus’ challenge to Achelous as storyteller, to Daedalus’ defiance of natural limits, and on to the gods questioning Jupiter’s legitimate right of rejuvenating Iolaus (9.418–38). Kenney explains the strategies of divine Realpolitik but keeps to the sidelines on its contemporary relevance to the aged Augustus.[[2]] This sceptical stance about the merits of divine favor works well in reading Ovid’s ingenious capping of Hercules’ apotheosis with an account of his birth just as he has been purged from his mother’s mortal associations. Galanthis’ metamorphosis produces an animal that is actually useful in contrast with Hercules’ grandiose pose of defeating mythical but perhaps imaginary monsters (Kenney refers to Lucr. 5.22–42). At other times, the insistence on the purely literary is frustrating. So, for instance, Kenney’s assertion that sacrificial similes are a “cliché epico” (8.761–4) seems overstated. Unsurprisingly, none of the invoked parallels involve a female victim in the ambiguous guise of a tree. Thus Erysichthon’s impious act, compounded by the drastic gender reversal in the simile, aims straight at the heart of the Metamorphoses. The presence of non-human sentient beings calls into question the institution of sacrifice itself (which emphatically forbids slaughtering a bull to Ceres, in any case (Fast. 4.413–16)).[[3]]

The densely learned commentary provides a backdrop of sources at the beginning of each episode and ample discussion of Ovidian and other parallels throughout. Kenney has an incomparable ear for Ovid’s style (literally at 8.524–5) and is especially strong on etymology, allusion, and usage compared with Virgil. Ilaria Marchesi’s fine translation of Kenney’s commentary deserves special mention (Mycenae is “giusto quel tantino collinosa” for Ovid to make a molehill out of Virgil’s mountain (Met. 7.463 ~ A. 3.76); only once did I find myself disagreeing with the faithful retention of English quirkiness. Would Philemon and Baucis really offer “formaggio del Cheshire” (8.666) to the gods instead of the famous regional specialty Phrygian cheese, made from donkey’s and mare’s milk? Or perhaps, in keeping with the nouveau pauvre style of their feast, rustic “ricotta”?[[4]]
This commentary joins the others in this series as indispensable tools for anyone working on Ovid, and retaining the unique flavor of each contribution enriches the whole. Kenney’s commentary provides sure footing for future interpretations.


[[1]] See also R. Tarrant, “Roads Not Taken. Untold Stories in Ovid’s Metamorphoses,” MD 54 (2005) 65–89.

[[2]] L. Galasso, “Giove e il fato nel IX libro delle Metamorfosi di Ovidio,” MD 49 (2002) 117–133.

[[3]] Cf. the note on another sacrifice simile at Met. 2.623–5 in A. Barchiesi, Ovidio Metamorfosi,Volume I (Libri I–II) (Milan, 2005). For the problem of the sacrificial simile see now M. L. von Glinski, Simile and Identity in Ovid’s Metamorphoses (Cambridge, 2012).

[[4]] A. Dalby, Food in the Ancient World from A–Z (London, 2003), s.v. “Cheese.”