Workshop: Commenting on Latin Poetic Texts

I am both pleased and daunted to be leading a workshop on writing commentaries on Latin poetic texts, a full-day affair to be held on June 30, 2016 at the Guanqi Center at Shanghai Normal University. Here is an abstract:

Ut tibi sit legisse voluptas: Commenting on Latin Poetic Texts

This workshop will consider the art of commenting on Latin poetic texts, first as it has been done in recent years for English-speaking audiences, and then, in open discussion, considering how it might be done in the future for Chinese-speaking audiences. While scholars sometimes think of commenting on a text as an objective process of collecting the facts necessary for full understanding, in practice, the question of audience is paramount. Commentators mediate a text for an imaged reader, and must have a sympathetic awareness of what that reader needs, desires, and can process or understand. In addition to supplying felt needs, however, the commentator can actively lead and model humanistic practices: the precise appreciation of poetic language, close reading, cultural literacy, and skill in translation. The workshop will analyze some good examples of this kind commentary in English on Ovid, then invite a forward-looking brain-storming session on how best to enhance the experience of reading Ovid for Chinese readers of Latin literature. Topics will include the art of the interpretive paraphrase, gloss, and summary; some reliable resources for finding information about geography, mythology, grammar, Roman customs, and rhetorical and literary devices; and techniques of commenting on style and tone.

(The Latin tag in the title comes from the epigram to Ovid’s Amores.) The workshop is part of the festivities for the second annual Shanghai Normal University Guangqi International Center for Scholars Classics Lecture and Seminar Series, organized by the wonderful team of Jinyu Liu 刘津瑜 and Heng Chen 陈恒

GuangqiClassicsSeriesII_2016

Prof. Liu is the Principal Investigator of “Translating the Complete Corpus of Ovid’s Poetry into Chinese with Commentaries,” a multi-year project sponsored by a Chinese National Social Science Foundation Major Grant (2015-2020). She is collaborating with more than a dozen scholars from four countries A full conference with a very impressive roster of speakers will be held in Shanghai in May 31-June 2, 2017.

I am not directly involved with this project, but it served as a useful handle to think about a commentary-writing workshop in Shanghai, helping achieve a more concrete focus for what is a rather terrifying topic. My own activity as an editor on DCC has given me lots of particular ideas and preferences, but the last thing I would want to do is foist those on a Chinese audience. The really exciting thing here is the opportunity to reinvent the genre in a different context, taking the best aspects from the traditions of European commentary and liberating new energies. My goal is to show a few examples of what I think are particularly good recent instances in English, and let the discussion go where it will. Looking forward to a stimulating discussion!

–Chris Francese

Favorite Commentaries: Jones’ Selections from Ovid’s Metamorphoses

I’ve been reading Ovid’s Metamorphoses with a third year college Latin class, and we are using Peter Jones’ commentary on selections from this work, published by Cambridge University Press in 2007. I wanted to take a minute to celebrate the virtues and pleasures of this book, as does Betty Rose Nagel in her enthusiastic BMCR review. What Rose Nagel couldn’t do is show the layout.

If you can take a minute to read the introductory paragraph, text, notes, and close readings for this short passage (pp. 33–34), it will be clear that this is philology of a very high order, but put at the service of the first-time reader of Ovid.

Jones p. 33 Jones p. 34

 

  • Introductory note
    • Clear, brief summary of what has gone just before, setting the physical scene for the passage
    • Mention of who the main characters in the scene are, with details that are important background for understanding the passage at hand, in this case their lineage
  • An italicized heading, with line numbers and summaries: helps in reader orientation
  • Text with macrons: this helps in pronunciation and metrics. Jones’ word order helps, those little carats, are idiosyncratic and may seem distracting to experienced readers, but they are quite helpful to students, at least when first encountering Latin hexameter poetry. They taper off later in the book.
  • Notes:
    • line numbers signaled in bold
    • vocabulary is given in full dictionary form, with typographic difference between lemma and definition
    • references are given to a standard grammar
    • glosses are literal, with any understood matter in brackets.
    • freer translations are followed by a more literal versions in parentheses
    • high frequency vocabulary is marked as such (and given in a list at the end of the section)
    • definitions are brief, and context appropriate
    • there is mention of rhetorical figures, but not too much
    • the important items for comprehension are given first, followed by other information (see especially the ordering of the three items in the note on 353 iungo)
    • notes point out what is typical of Ovid (e.g., note on 351)
    • typography contributes to clarity (note the hanging indents)
    • There are no quotations of parallel passages from other authors, such as litter most classical commentaries, often bewildering and frustrating novices
    • There is a small number of frequently used abbreviations
  • Close readings (at the foot of the page):
    • every point made is followed by parenthetical citation and/or quotation of the Latin that supports it.
    • “cf.” is used sparingly for relevant parallels from the work under discussion
    • Jones comments on tone (“tearful emotions,” “charming innocence”)
    • He frequently mentions what Ovid chooses not to do, but which might have been expected
    • Discussion of rhetorical devices notes the effect of such devices
    • He comments on what makes the passage particularly effective and well-written

Writers of commentaries on classical texts, even at levels higher than the student audience Jones aims to serve, could do worse than imitate its style, layout, and self-restraint. Cambridge’s Green and Yellows get much love in the classics world, and have even inspired a tribute rap. But surely I am not the only one to blanch at the baroque tendencies of some recent volumes of the series. Perhaps there is a middle ground to be staked out, a commentary that possesses the clarity and restraint of Jones, so helpful to novices, but which also puts the reader in touch with contemporary scholarship and criticism, as the Green and Yellow series does so admirably.

Needless to say my students loved using the Jones commentary, and missed his help when we moved on to read some excerpts from Fasti 4, with the aid of Fantham’s excellent Greek and Yellow. But by that time, thanks to Jones’ help, they were no longer novices, and could take on the challenge of figuring out things on their own. Indeed, the final project is a collaborative commentary writing exercise on the Parilia section of the Fasti, in which they are trying to imitate Jones’ style. The results should be ready to show in a week or two, and will be published online. Watch this space for more details. And on behalf of the members of this class, thank you, Mr. Jones!

Praise for Mulligan’s Nepos on DCC

Tip of the hat to Rex Stem for his kind words about DCC in a recent BMCReview of Bret Mulligan’s Nepos:

I have never taught from an online commentary, but I am persuaded that this text would be an effective way to do so. The different types of information that the student needs are easily accessible, the format is pleasing and intuitive, and the level of the notes is appropriate and rigorous. The printed version is successful in itself, but the appeal of the online version is manifest. My pedagogical habits would have to change somewhat if I were to teach from an online commentary (would we all have screens in front of us? would we also still want to have printed texts to annotate?), but this is precisely the sort of online teaching resource that encourages experimentation with new formats and methods. As a pedagogical platform for teaching Latin with digital materials, this text is visionary in its design.

If you are experimenting in this way, please leave a comment and let everyone know how it’s going!

Classicists without Borders

reaching hand

Photo: Quinn Dombrowski, via flickr

Classical outreach programs are proliferating. See, for example, the ones at Oxford, the University of Cincinnati, the Classics in Communities Project in the UK, and the variety of outreach initiatives at the SCS. The problem with the term outreach is the slight air of desperation. There must be people “out” there who have never heard our message, who need to be “reached.” Hands extend into a void, waving cheerfully at passersby, signaling for attention, anxious not to be ignored. I  believe we should think less in terms of reaching out and more in terms of service, of finding places where our skills are needed or welcome, even when those are not the places that our ordinary professional lives typically take us. Possibly the best current example of this is the series of workshops run by Classics in Communities, bringing support to those in schools with no Latin programs who want nonetheless to teach Latin. I can think of two other areas where there is a certain void, a space where the voices of Classicists without Borders would potentially be welcome, even useful, but have not so far been heard very much. The first is podcasting. The podcast medium is widely enjoyed as recreation be people as they exercise, walk, travel, go about housework routines, etc. This is an audience hungry for new content, eager to explore new ideas, and interested in all sorts of things. Perhaps they studied Latin at school, or have always had a love of mythology. The mechanics of producing and delivering podcasts to this audience are well within the technological competence of most classicists. Success in the medium, as with much teaching, requires a conversational style, a sense of humor, and an ability to tell stories. A second area is that of digital project reviews. The vast majority of people who are not professional classicists find their information about the classical world on the internet, and there is a heartening proliferation of good quality digital projects about the ancient world. Still, there is a good deal that is slapdash and ill-informed. Who can tell the difference? Classicists can. Where is there a reliable venue of critiquing, evaluating, and commenting on digital resources? Nowhere. The SCS Communications Committee (which I currently chair), among its other activities, is creating just such a venue as part of the SCS website and blog. When qualified review of open digital resources becomes as routine as it is for monographs, the prestige and the quality of open online publications will rise. The SCS Communications Committee has created a clear set of guidelines for such reviews, and is actively soliciting reviewers and projects to review. Please leave a comment if you have any suggestions for this, or ideas about other “Classicists with Borders” initiatives.

Reading the Romans: 7 Rules for Primary Texts

BasilConstAs classical teachers we often ask our student to read primary sources about the Greeks and Romans in English,and the ability to analyze them critically forms one of the primary learning goals in many courses. I have never seen formulated any explicit general guidelines for students on how to do so, or discussion of how these texts might differ from analogous types of texts they’re more familiar with, despite the fact that students often have a hard time interpreting unfiltered ancient sources. So here are some modest rules of thumb, much of it common sense, but some of it also reflecting some peculiar features of Roman literate culture. Hopefully these rough guidelines will help students to better appreciate what Roman texts have to offer: Please leave a comment if you have others to share!1

Consider the perspective of the author. Each author will have his or her own viewpoint and aims in a particular instance, which will be shaped by circumstances, status, family, education, life experiences, and so forth. It helps to keep certain questions in mind: Is the writer attempting to persuade, entertain, praise, inform, impress, draw some pertinent moral, or some combination of these aims? Is he talking about contemporary events or some remote period? Does he wholeheartedly endorse the views presented or propose them merely for the sake of argument or as something to think about? Is the author speaking in his own voice or through the persona of some particular character? Does he have any motive to be less than truthful or honest? Does his social position or economic circumstances or other factors predispose him to think in a certain way? Is he attempting to challenge received views or reporting what seems like a consensus? Is he attempting to shock his audience? The conventional wisdom is that Roman writing is less confessional and more influenced by models, personae, and what needs to be said on a particular occasion than is writing in more modern eras—though this generalization is debatable.

Consider the audience. Is the intended receiver a single individual, a friend, an enemy, a student, a group, or a god? A good deal of Roman writing is persuasive or hortatory (urging people to do something), and this includes poetry. Consider what a particular argument implies about the predisposition of the audience and its expected views.

What is extraordinary is not typical. We tend to remark on things that are not obvious or ordinary. What is surprising or noteworthy implies by contrast what is normal or average. Beware of inferring that, because some individual Roman is said to have done things in a certain way, or that somebody says that people should do things a certain way, that most people in fact did do it that way. The opposite is often more likely to be the case. By the same token, things that are said as if they had no special importance are often good evidence for common practices. All of this is especially relevant for anything to do with sexuality.

Ideas reflect controversies. Like any group of people, the Romans disagreed strenuously among themselves about many things. What counterarguments are stated or implied in the positions taken by a given author? Are the terms of the debate familiar from modern controversies, or do they seem to reflect peculiar Roman institutions, customs, blind spots, or preoccupations? What do the positions taken imply about values and priorities of the author and the audience?

Look for the evaluation. Roman authors, no less than modern ones, rarely describe things simply for the sake of describing them. Usually there is an expressed or implied evaluation, a position being taken that a particular fact or behavior is good or bad, right or wrong, or somewhere in between. These evaluations are key to the interpretation and assessment of what is being said, and are often foregrounded—something that has given Roman authors a well-earned reputation for being moralistic. But evaluations are often unstated, especially in historiography and letters. Attempt to figure out the implied position on what is being described.

Consider the genre. Put very simply, Roman love poetry is meant to evoke desire, pastoral to conjure up an idyllic landscape, oratory to stir the mind and emotions, and satire to attack vice. Every genre has its traditional goals and parameters, which can be followed or subverted by individual authors, and which are usually not coextensive with their modern relatives. Roman and Greek biographers were primarily interested in illustrating and evaluating character, rather than simply describing the facts and circumstances of the subject’s life (see further the introduction to Plutarch). Similarly, historical writing tends to be more exemplary (that is, offering a model for behavior) and moralizing than its modern counterpart. Philosophy can be cast as poetry (as with Lucretius) or as letters (as with Seneca). Epigram, a genre perfected by Martial but now rare, will always be short and have a sting in the tail. Try to get a sense of what genre an author is writing in, and what that implies about the kinds of things he is likely to say, and how he innovates. Roman authors were fond of playing with genre, as when Ovid humorously adopts the conventions of instructional literature in The Art of Love. The introductions in this book offer some guidance on this matter.

Consider what is not said. Many types of documents we would like to have either do not survive or were not written in the first place. We do not have personal diaries, church and municipal archives, or journalism of the sort historians of more recent eras take for granted. And there are many other gaps, due both to the vagaries of what was preserved in the Middle Ages, as well as to who could write, who chose to write, and what they chose to write about. A figure like Cicero looms large because he was so prolific and his Latin style so beloved in later ages. But the thoughts of even some very influential Romans, like Marius, Sulla, or Nero—not to mention countless ordinary people—are relatively or entirely inaccessible to us. One would like to have the memoirs of Roman priestesses, engineers, magicians, slaves, soldiers on the frontiers, or Gallic tribesmen who adopted Roman ways, but we do not. And even within the documents we do possess, many issues we would like to hear about are simply not discussed. These silences are themselves often significant.


1. What follows is excerpted from Christopher Francese and R. Scott Smith, Ancient Rome: An Anthology of Sources (Hackett, 2014), pp. xx-xxii.

Dickinson Workshop: Julius Caesar’s Art of War

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Julius Caesar’s Art of War: A Graphic Portfolio of the Battlefields and Tactics in the Commentarii de Bello Gallico:
with
Antonio Salinas
United States Military Academy, West Point, NY

Place: Dickinson College, Tome 115, 10:00 am to 5:00 pm

Salinas1.7-1.8While Caesar’s Gallic War presents a clear depiction of Roman military doctrine against Celtic tribes at all levels of war, very few detailed maps exist which illustrate the tactical and operational aspects. Antonio Salinas’ mapping portfolio maps the entirety of Caesar’s Gallic War, illustrating Caesar’s legions at both the operational and tactical level, using Google Earth imagery and NATO symbology to effectively follow Caesar’s legions during their campaigns in Gaul, Germany, and southern England. The portfolio seeks to assist classicists and military historians alike in bringing Caesar’s Gallic War to life in a way never before seen.

This workshop will take a detailed look at each year of Caesar’s campaign, highlighting Caesar’s strategy, operations, and tactics. We’ll spend time analyzing the major battles and explain how and why a handful of legions were able to conquer such a large expanse of land with a large population.

The workshop is free of charge, but to order materials and food we need to have an accurate count of attendees.

Registration Deadline: April 2, 2016.

To register: Email Mrs. Terri Blumenthal,  blumentt at dickinson.edu

CPT Antonio Salinas is from Allen Park, Michigan. On high school graduation Antonio enlisted in the United States Marine Corps where he served as a martial arts instructor trainer and an intelligence chief. He attended Eastern Michigan University and received his Bachelors in History and Political Science. In graduate school he enrolled in Army ROTC and attained his Masters in History. He received his commission from Army ROTC in May 2007 as a branch detail Infantry – Military Intelligence officer and has served in both Afghanistan and Iraq. He has published one book Siren’s Song: The Allure of War (Deed’s Publishing, 2012), describing his time as an infantry platoon leader in combat. Antonio continues to serve in uniform and currently teaches military history at West Point.

Summer 2016 Paid Research Internships in Classical Studies

Dickinson students are encouraged to apply for any of three 8-week paid research internships in Classical Studies in summer 2016 (the second of these positions is contingent on a pending funding decision by the Dickinson Research and Development Committee). The pay is $350 per week, plus housing on Dickinson’s campus. The work will be carried out under the supervision of Prof. Francese, and result in substantial credited contributions to the Dickinson College Commentaries and Dickinson Classics Online Projects.

Dates: May 30–July 22, 2016

Location: Carlisle, PA

Application deadline: March 11, 2016

Positions 1 and 2 Description: Digital Latin-Chinese Lexicon

Work on the digitization of the Latin-Chinese dictionary of Joaquim-Affonso Gonçalves (Lexicon magnum: latino-sinicum 1841, 779 pp.), which will eventually result in a mobile application, and a database that will form an essential part of the infrastructure of the project Dickinson Classics Online. Begun in 2015, DCO is intended to provide better access to the Greco-Roman classics to Chinese speakers. One student (position 1) will edit Gonçalves’ Chinese definitions to make sure they are properly transcribed and modernized; the other (position 2) will edit the Latin headwords to make them correspond to those of the base dictionary published by the Laboratoire d’Analyse Statistique des Langues Anciennes (LASLA). In many cases Goncalves’ headwords will have to be split or combined to conform to the LASLA headwords, and in every case the format of the Latin headwords will have to be expanded to meet modern lexicographical standards.

Positions 1 and 2 Requirements

Position 1 requirements:

  • strong written Chinese, familiarity with both classical and simplified characters
  • attention to detail
  • interest in languages
  • facility with Excel

Position 2 requirements:

  • upper-intermediate or advanced Latin
  • attention to detail
  • interest in languages
  • facility with Excel

Positions 1 and 2 Schedule

Week 1 (May 30-June 3): orientation to the project:

  • The basics of Latin lexicography, and the similarities and differences between existing dictionaries and their source material
  • Introduction to primary resources that will be used in this project: Joseph Denooz, Nouveau lexique fréquentiel de latin, Logeion, and Goncalves’ Lexicon Magnum Latino-Sinicum.
  • Explanation of LASLA’s working methods and their style of lemmata
  • Examination of the LASLA list of homonyms, and explanation of their labeling conventions and French abbreviations
  • Practice creating dictionary forms in Excel in the existing DCC style, based on
    • LASLA lemma
    • Goncalves’ lemma
    • Lemmas available in Logeion, especially Woordenboek Latijn/Nederlands (2011)
  • Practice typing Latin characters with macra (long marks over vowels) using the Maiori keyboard in Windows, and explanation of where that is necessary, and where to find accurate information about vowel quantity
  • Analysis of the Chinese OCR to determine the extent of the revisions needed to modernize it
  • Practice editing Chinese definitions to conform with edited Latin lemmata, splitting and combining as needed.
  • Practice formatting Chinese definitions to include Latin idioms as in Goncalves

Weeks 3-8: work on creating the database, going alphabetically.

Position 3 Description: Multimedia Edition of the Aeneid

Work on a forthcoming DCC multimedia edition of the Aeneid, which will include

  • Notes, drawn mostly from older school editions, that elucidate the language and the context
  • Images, art, and illustrations, annotated to make clear how they relate to the text
  • Complete running vocabulary lists for the whole poem
  • Audio recordings of the Latin read aloud, and videos of the scansion
  • A full Vergilian lexicon based on that of Henry Frieze
  • Recordings of Renaissance music on texts from the Aeneid
  • Comprehensive linking to Allen & Greenough’s Latin Grammar
  • Comprehensive linking to Pleiades for all places mentioned in the text

Positions 3 requirements:

  • familiarity with the Aeneid in Latin
  • attention to detail
  • familiarity with Adobe Photoshop

Position 3 Schedule

  • Weeks 1–3: gathering, editing, and posting of images medieval manuscripts of the Aeneid
  • Weeks 4–5: transcription, upload, and linking of Aeneid scholarship excerpts
  • Weeks 6–8: creation of RDF file for linked data synching with Pelagios Project, for all places mentioned in the notes

TO APPLY: please send a letter of interest with a curriculum vitae to  francese at dickinson.edu by March 11, 2016

How far will core vocabulary get you?

One of the claims that scholars make about vocabulary acquisition in Latin and Greek is that a relatively small number of high frequency lemmas (dictionary headwords) accounts for a high percentage of word forms in a typical text. John Muccigrosso and Wilfred Major, for example, estimate that the number of lemmas that will generate 80% of a typical text in Latin is 1500, in Greek, about 1100. (Muccigrosso, 2004, p. 416; Major, 2008, p. 7). Of course it stands to reason that this figure will differ between texts, and within texts, since some authors use relatively simple vocabulary (Nepos, Lysias), while some do not (Juvenal, Aeschylus), and some passages within an author have more unusual words than others. I and others have long wanted a way to calculate the “core percentage” in a given piece of text, that is the number of word forms in a section of a text that derive from high frequency lemmas. This would be both interesting from the point of view of literary criticism, and helpful pedagogically. Some data on that is now emerging in the case of Latin, thanks to the work of LASLA, of Bret Mulligan and his Bridge application, and the Excel skills of Derek Frymark (Dickinson ’12).

If we take the 1000-word DCC core Latin vocabulary as the definition of high frequency lemmas, then 78% of Caesar’s Gallic War consists of core lemmas, excluding proper names. The core percentages by book in Caesar’s Gallic War (excluding Hirtius’ Book 8, for which we have no LASLA data) look like this:

Book      Percentage

1             0.80

2             0.78

3             0.77

4             0.79

5             0.77

6             0.78

7             0.75

Individual chapters range from a high of 91% (4.8) to a low of 57% (7.72). 44 sentences in the work consist of 100% core vocabulary (e.g. 1.8.3 and 1.10.4), while there are two sentences, 3.13.4 and 3.13.4, which tie for a low of 17%.

In the Aeneid (taking the chunks of the text as presented in Perseus) the average chunk is 70% core, with a high of 88% (7.1–4), and a low of 46% (6.417–425). The book by book totals are as follows:

Book      Percentage

1              0.72

2              0.73

3              0.70

4              0.72

5              0.70

6              0.71

7              0.69

8              0.69

9              0.71

10           0.70

11           0.72

12           0.70

Two Dickinson students, Seth Levin and Connor Ford, are working on visualizing the core percentage data for the Aeneid and the Gallic War as part of Dickinson’s Mellon-funded Digital Boot Camp, led by Patrick Belk, starting this week. I look forward to sharing the results in the next few weeks, and hearing what you think of them!

References

Major, Wilfred E. (2008). It’s Not the Size, It’s the Frequency: The Value of Using a Core Vocabulary in Beginning and Intermediate Greek. CPL Online, 4.1, 1-24.

Muccigrosso, John (2004). “Frequent Vocabulary in Latin Instruction.” Classical World, 97, 409-433.

Note: this post was edited Jan. 15, 2016, to take into account some corrections in the data, and to add the book by book figures for the Aeneid.

CfP: Globalizing Ovid: Shanghai 2017

Call for Papers:

Globalizing Ovid

An International Conference in Commemoration of the Bimillennium of Ovid’s Death

Guangqi International Center for Scholars of Shanghai Normal University

May 31–June 2, 2017

Jointly sponsored by the Chinese National Social Science Foundation, Shanghai Normal University, and Dickinson College

Robinet Testard, Ipsipile scrive a Giasone (Source: Folia Magazine)

Robinet Testard, Ipsipile scrive a Giasone (Source: Folia Magazine)

Keynote speakers:

  • Michael von Albrecht (Universität Heidelberg)
  • Maurizio Bettini (Università di Siena)
  • John Miller (University of Virginia)
  • Alison Sharrock (University of Manchester)
  • Gareth Williams (Columbia University)
  • Wei Zhang (Fudan University)

Welcome addresses:

  • Fritz-Heiner Mutschler (Universität Dresden/Peking University)
  • Yang Huang (Fudan University)

Concluding address:1

  • Laurel Fulkerson (Florida State University)

DEADLINE FOR THE SUBMISSION OF ABSTRACTS: April 30, 2016

Why Shanghai?

One may be surprised to learn that this is not the first time that an anniversary of a Latin poet is commemorated in China. 1930, the Bimillennium of Vergil’s birth, represented a watershed in the reception of Vergil and Roman literature in China. Aeneid Book I and Eclogues IV and VIII were translated into Chinese for the first time. The translator praised Vergil’s “modern” spirit: his critical attitude toward Empire, his questioning of the cost of civilization, his doubts of the value of progress, and his portrayal of the loneliness of his main characters. A little before 1930, well-known poet Dai Wangshu translated Ovid’s Ars Amatoria into vernacular Chinese prose based on Ovide: L’Art d’Aimer in the Collection Budé. These translations were both products of and participants in the Chinese exploration of modernity and a “New Culture,” a process that involved a full scale reexamination of a wide range of issues, from the status of the Confucian canon, relationships with authority, modes of heroism, gender roles and sexuality, to ways of expressing desire and emotion. It was only after a long hiatus that complete translations of Ovid’s Metamorphoses and Vergil’s Aeneid appeared in 1958 and 1984 respectively, both created by Yang Zhouhan (1915–1989), working from the original Latin and various English translations. Today there is a remarkable surge in interest in both Chinese and Western classics in China. Latin literature is gaining momentum at a speed faster than one could have imagined a generation ago. In 2015 the Chinese National Social Science Foundation announced “Translating the Complete Corpus of Ovid’s poetry into Chinese with Commentaries” (PI: Jinyu Liu) as one of the major projects to fund in the next five years. With this initiative, Ovid’s Fasti and exile poetry will be translated into Chinese for the first time, his other poems will be retranslated, and comprehensive commentaries will accompany the translations of all of Ovid’s poems for the first time.

Consilium resque locusque dabunt (Tristia I.1.92) This conference serves as an opportunity not only to pay tribute to Ovid, but also to promote cross-cultural conversations about the globalization of the Greco-Roman Classics. The conference invites papers that represent the most recent developments in the Ovidian scholarship—philological, textual, critical, literary, and historical—as well as contributions that explore perspectives from comparativism, translingualism, and postclassicism to address larger issues of translating and interpreting the Classics in a globalizing world. These two strands of themes should not be perceived as being either isolated from or in competition against each other, especially if scholars and translators of Ovid are understood as participants in assigning meanings to his work. The conference intends to bring together scholars and translators to explore the dynamic processes of selection, tension, and negotiation that have been integral to the making and interpreting of Classical canon, including Ovid. How has Ovid been taught, disseminated, transmitted, and evaluated in Roman antiquity and in other cultures? If the viability of the Greco-Roman Classics in the postclassical eras, and in the non-Western contexts hinges on the willingness of the host cultures to assign new meanings to them, what may motivate that “willingness,” and through whose agency? What are those new meanings? Where and how are they being worked out and developed? What translation strategies have been applied to Ovid’s poetry in different locales and languages, and for what audiences? What are the challenges of translating Ovid in cultures with their own vibrant but different poetic traditions, and literary culture concerning themes of love, abandonment, transformation, and exile? How and where are Classics changed by their interaction with different host cultures?

Topics and abstract submissions:

The conference will include plenary addresses, individual paper presentations, as well as roundtables organized by project team members and the board of referees (see below). In accordance with the dual function of the conference both to highlight current scholarship and trends in thinking on Ovid and to consider modes of cross-cultural reception, comparison, and translation, we provide the following list to illustrate the range of questions and topics in which the conference is interested. It is by no means an exclusive or restrictive list:

  • Amor: Force of destruction?
  • Emotions in Ovid
  • The dearth of same-sex relationships in Ovid
  • Intertextuality in Ovid: What’s new?
  • The Ovidian aesthetics
  • Ovid’s literary persona(e)
  • Ovid’s lieux de mémoire
  • The psychology of exile in the Ovidian corpus
  • The human and Roman past(s) in Ovid
  • Ovid in provinces and Roman imperialism
  • Locus urbanus versus locus barbarus in Ovid
  • Seduction in ancient literature: a comparative examination
  • Tales of Transformation compared (within Metamorphoses, across genres, and/or across cultures)
  • The Ovidian corpus: critical editions
  • Teaching Ovid in Antiquity and/or the modern world
  • Translating Ovid (and Classics in general) in a Global Context
  • Visualizing Ovid
  • Post-classical Ovid (reception and adaptation in all genres)
  • Commentary tradition and digital commentary

We welcome submissions from advanced doctoral students and scholars of all seniorities. Please send brief vitae and proposals (300 words excluding bibliography) for 25-minute papers by April 30, 2016 to Jinyu Liu, HH 117, Department of Classical Studies, DePauw University, Greencastle, IN 46135, USA, or email: both OvidShanghai2017@hotmail.com and jliu@depauw.edu.

Abstract submissions will be evaluated by a board of seven referees, whose names are listed below, and the results will be announced by June 1, 2016:

  • Christopher Francese (Dickinson College, USA)
  • Laurel Fulkerson (Florida State University, USA)
  • Steven Green (Yale-NUS, Singapore)
  • Jinyu Liu (DePauw University/Shanghai Normal University, USA/China)
  • Lisa Mignone (Brown University, USA)
  • Bobby Xinyue (University of Warwick, UK)
  • Wei Zhang (Fudan University, China)

Publication plan:

Selected contributions will be translated into Chinese, and published in either a collected volume or Chinese academic journals. The authors will retain copyright to the non-Chinese versions of their articles. The possibility of publishing the conference proceedings in English with a European or American publisher will also be explored.

Organizers:

  • Heng Chen (Shanghai Normal University)
  • Christopher Francese (Dickinson College)
  • Jinyu Liu (DePauw University/Shanghai Normal University)

*Please send all inquiries to Professor Jinyu Liu at jliu@depauw.edu.

Join us as we make history!

 

Toward a Multimedia Latin Grammar

What sort of Latin and Greek grammars do we need online? How can existing public domain resources be re-worked, modernized, and leveraged to best serve the community of Latin and Greek learners and scholars going forward?

The current state of things is best represented by The Perseus Project, which early on digitized important English language grammars by Smyth (Greek) and Allen & Greenough (Latin), among others.

Allen & Greenough at Perseus: hyperlinked and searchable

Allen & Greenough at Perseus: hyperlinked and searchable

This version of  A&G has hyperlinks, and navigation by chapter number, and is searchable.

At DCC we have been working online grammars for a few years, and the results so far have been a newly digitized Greek Grammar by Thomas Dwight Goodell, and a revised digital version of Allen & Greenough’s Latin Grammar, based on XML files kindly provided by the Perseus Project. As we prepare to revise Allen & Greenough again in the process of moving it to Drupal (the CMS for our main site), it seemed like a good time to ask for ideas and suggestions on what would be most useful. First, some background.

In the fall of 2013 Kaylin Bednarz (Dickinson ’15) scanned a copy of the 1903 printing of Allen & Greenough so that we had good quality page images. Then she cleaned the existing XML files from the Perseus Project, linking the XML files to the photo scans on Dickinson servers.

The main changes to the XML involved correcting errors and simplifying and altering some XML tags. Here is an example of the source XML from Perseus of ch. 26

Perseus XML for Allen & Greenough ch. 26

Perseus XML for Allen & Greenough ch. 26

The DCC version looks like this:

DCC Allen & Greenough ch. 26 XML

DCC Allen & Greenough ch. 26 XML

Using the new scans Kaylin also created new XML files for the index of the book, which had not been included in the Perseus version. The purpose there was to make the book browseable via the index, which is important for user utility, and absent in all other online versions. For example, a search in the Perseus version for the term indirect discourse yields six results, rather confusingly displayed, and you could sort through and find what you need. But the index itself is analytical and gets you right where you want to go.

Index page added to Perseus digitization of Allen & Greenough

Index page added to Perseus digitization of Allen & Greenough

 

Kaylin then created html files based on the XML. She was assisted and trained in the use of Oxygen software (which converts the XML into web-ready html) by Matthew Kochis, Postdoctoral Fellow in Digital Humanities at Dickinson.

In late March, Dickinson web developer Ryan Burke uploaded the page images, html, and XML files to Dickinson servers, and created the web interface for our version of A&G. This revealed issues of formatting: indentations were often not preserved, resulting in lack of clarity. Some character formatting was not right, especially in charts, and footnotes from the original print resource were not clearly displayed. Forward and back buttons had to be put in for each of the 638 sections.

Meagan Ayer (PhD in classics and ancient history, University of Buffalo, 2012) began work hand-editing Allen & Greenough html files, removing errors and fixing formatting, adding navigational infrastructure using Adobe Dreamweaver. A few missing XML files had to be added and converted to html.

All this work is now complete, and the results I would characterize as somewhat underwhelming. The interface is not attractive, and navigation and searching, always a weak point in the Perseus version, has only been marginally improved (though I do use that index fairly regularly). More importantly, there is no easy way to add things, like audio, video, test question banks, anything. In the fall of 2015 Meagan and I designed a content type in Drupal so that we could transfer the existing html pages into a more flexible and media-friendly box. Ryan Burke built the content type, and Meagan is now in the process of transferring content and making colored versions of the charts as .jpg files that could be consulted as a group. The Drupal version will allow for linked translations, as with our core vocabulary. For example, we hope to have a Chinese version in the next five years. Drupal’s translation module allows us to keep all versions tied together and easily edited. Drupal also has tagging features for enhanced searchability, and allows for embedded and tagged images, audio, and video.

For the design we went with a three column format (as in Perseus) to aid in readability. Navigation is on the left, and we reserved the right sidebar for media. For this version we combined several chapters on a single page (node) when that seemed logical. For example, sections 53-55 all discuss and summarize the types of 3rd declension nouns, so it seemed perverse to make three separate nodes in Drupal for that. In effect we have created a new table of contents (with two levels, and expandable), while preserving the standard reference system by numbered chapters. This in itself should aid in finding. Here is a page with sample audio and video players, and the page image at the right. The new TOC (still in development as the pages are created) is at the left: DCC_AG_with_media

And here is a sample with one of Meagan’s colored charts. You can also see the chart as a downloadable .pdf, and download the XML if you wish.

DCC_AG_with_chartsNow that we have a designated zone (at the right) for media, what exactly should go there? Pedagogical advice? Video a la Khan Academy? Banks of multiple choice quizzes? Commentary that modernizes the discussion of the grammar? Examples for the corpus of Latin (a la Logeion)? What do you think?