LOVE AND TRANSFORMANTION
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WELCOME to Doctor Illa Flora's Introduction to Ovid!
Welcome to the website for my tutorial, "LOVE AND TRANSFORMATION: An Introduction to Ovid"
SALVETE, VOS OMNES!! This is the site for my online tutorial on the Latin poet Publius Ovidius Naso, aka "Ovid." I am now offering this class, which I previously taught as a formal academic course for many years through a fruitful collaboration between the University of Georgia’s Department of Classics and Department of Independent and Distance Learning, as an independent self-paced tutorial for adult learners with a strong background in Latin (including at least completion of WHEELOCK'S LATIN or an equivalent introductory curriculum) who desire an introduction to Ovid's epic poem of mythological transformations, the METAMORPHOSES, and his spritely, tongue-in-cheek love poetry, the AMORES.
MILLE GRATIAS AC VALETE!!
R. A. (“Rick”) LaFleur, aka Doctor Illa Flora
This tutorial has opened up the realm of poetry to me--I was never much interested. For the first time this week, I actually looked at a poem in the New Yorker. I had always skipped over them. Can't say I have much feel for contemporary poetry, but I will say that I now have a nascent interest--though I will stick to Ovid for the moment.
The interest in words/sounds/poetry (and even my own written word) is truly new to me. I have printed out a primer on the emotional impact of consonantal sounds. I don't think yet that they really touch me--but I am trying to learn to hear what Dr. LaFleur hears....
We went to the Met yesterday and while we were waiting in line, we were in the Rodin Hall, and lo and behold--both Cupid and Psyche AND Pygmalion and Galatea. As I looked at the statues, I felt somehow like they were old friends, as if I had a connection to the marble. I suppose Ovid would have liked that: it was a revelatory moment.
This class has been such a pleasure for me; it is a privilege to have one-on-one communication about Latin with an elite scholar and extraordinary teacher. Here were the most rewarding aspects of the course, in no particular order:
1) Learning the structure of Latin poetry—Before this course, I had little to no understanding of dactylic hexameter or elegiac couplet. I now have a great deal of confidence in my knowledge of Latin poetry, and I have really enjoyed learning all the things that Latin poets could achieve with sound effects and word pictures that are much more difficult in English poetry!
2) Deeper understanding of literature in general and poetry specifically—I really enjoyed that this class was not just translation, but that it required thinking deeply about the messages that the author is communicating to the world and understanding the important relationship between form and content. This class has made me a better teacher and student of literature. I loved the Metamorphoses particularly, and I’m hoping to teach it to a group of high schoolers next year!
3) Feedback about my translation and answers to discussion questions—It was incredibly valuable to receive detailed corrections to my translations and explanations to any questions that I have asked. I always felt that my questions would not be frustrating or tedious, but that they were viewed as an important part of my learning process. In short, this class has reinforced that good communication in a healthy-student teacher relationship can shape a student’s engagement with the subject.
Generally speaking, I learned better to understand and appreciate Latin poetry. Before Dr. LaFleur's Ovid tutorial, Latin poetry was intimidating to me. I could not wrap my head around the word order, meter, and abundance of vocabulary. While I still have to consult the dictionary often when reading, I have learned to see the beauty in a poet’s choices regarding word order, meter, and vocabulary. In my opinion, Ovid is an excellent place to start when learning Latin poetry because his cleverly crafted verses contain so much meaning and provide so much opportunity for analysis and discussion.
To be more specific, I am thankful to now be able to read several long sections from Ovid’s Metamorphoses and Amores,and to be able to share these with my students. I plan to create tiered versions of these stories and poems in order to make them more accessible to my students. My deepened knowledge of these poems gives me the ability to do that, while I would not have been able to do so as efficiently a year ago. Furthermore, I have learned not only how to scan Latin poetry, but to read it expressively in the correct meter without thinking about the scansion. Because there is a rhythm to Latin poetry that one can assimilate after just a short time, I no longer think about the “rules” of scansion. This has been great fun for me, and I hope to share this as well with my students.
A valuable feature of the tutorial is the guided commentary throughout the book. I found it to be the perfect balance between explaining potentially confusing vocabulary and grammar, providing context for allusions and historical information, and pointing out interesting and delightful things I might otherwise have missed. It is truly like having a teacher right there with you while you read. I also found the discussion questions to be extremely fruitful for my learning. They are thought-provoking and relevant to the text, and provide an excellent model for the sorts of questions I can ask my own students about poetry. Another surprisingly valuable feature of the tutorial is the Sara Mack book on Ovid. I absolutely loved this book. Clearly, Mack adores Ovid, and this adoration is contagious. I finished her book excited to read more Ovid beyond this tutorial and more aware of how Ovid expresses his genius.
This tutorial has made Ovid my favorite Roman author. I will certainly teach Ovid to my students as I continue to read more of his work on my own time. I am thankful to Dr. LaFleur for writing such an excellent tutorial and helping me along the way.
Ovidius iam vivit!
John Hermesmann, teacher
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