Joseph B. Solodow
Lecturer, Department of Classics
In 1980–81 he held a Rome Prize Fellowship at the American Academy in Rome. Since becoming associated with the Yale Department of Classics in 1985, he has given a number of courses, such as the history of Latin literature, Virgil, Ovid, elegiac poetry, images of early Rome in Latin literature, Roman dining, Roman friendship, Roman myth and pastoral, and Latin prose composition.
His research interests lie in Latin literature and philology and in ancient historiography — more particularly in Catullus, the Augustan poets and Livy, Latin prose style, and the history of the language, all the way to its Romance descendants. He considers his forte to be the use of philology as a tool of literary criticism. His teaching, which ranges more widely, includes western literature read in translation.
His major publications are The Latin Particle Quidem and The World of Ovid's Metamorphoses. Cato the Elder, Catullus, the Eclogues, the Ars Amatoria, Livy, and Castiglione have figured as the subjects of articles. The Modern Language Association awarded the Scaglione Translation Prize to his rendering of G. B. Conte's history of Latin literature into English. His latest book, Latin Alive: The Survival of Latin in English and the Romance Languages was published in 2010. At the moment he is preparing a literary commentary on Livy XXI.
Long considered a mere repository of classical mythology, an entertaining but unserious poem, undeserving of acute critical attention, the Metamorphoses has in recent years begun to be appreciated as a brilliant, extravagantly ingenious, and profoundly insightful work. Nonetheless, it has always come second to the Aeneid. But not only is Ovid's poem no less influential than Virgil's on subsequent Western literature and art (and perhaps, it might be argued, even more influential), but it also exists in unrelenting counterpoint with it (and indeed with Homer and much more ancient literature besides).
The Metamorphoses interrogates the world view embodied in the Aeneid, and is more universal in its outlook: though responding to contemporary Roman society, it privileges the experiences of the individual. We will read selections in Latin from many parts of the Metamorphoses and the remainder in English. Some of the outstanding critical scholarship on the poem will also be studied. Writing in the course will consist of a series of short papers. The class meets Mondays and Wednesdays, 9-10:15. This is an L5 course, which satisfies the language requirement.