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CLA 52 — Latin Lovers: A Survey of the Great Roman Love Poems

Quarter: Spring
Day(s): Mondays
Course Format: On-campus
Duration: 8 weeks
Date(s): Apr 1—May 20
Time: 7:00—8:50 pm
Drop Deadline: Apr 14
Unit: 1
Tuition: $405
Instructor(s): Christopher Krebs
7:00—8:50 pm
Apr 1—May 20
8 weeks
Drop By
Apr 14
1 Unit
Christopher Krebs
The first-century Roman poet Catullus, a naughty darling of the muses, put the thrall and throes of love to papyrus: odi et amo … “I hate, I love,” and vivamus, mea Lesbia…“we shall live, Lesbia mine.” True. Two thousand years after he tried, in Yeats’s words, “to flatter beauty’s ignorant ear,” Catullus still speaks to us. An iconoclastic and rebellious young man at the center of an aesthetical (and ethical) revolution, he favored the perfectly polished poetry of the small scale and made love its theme, thus spearheading the quartet of elegists: Cornelius Gallus, the inventor of the elegiac genre, followed by the learned Sextus Propertius and the bucolic Albius Tibullus—both of whom addressed serious questions in their frivolous writing— and the playfully parodic Ovid, possibly better known for his Metamorphoses. They were, in all likelihood, joined by the mysterious Sulpicia, one of the very few female voices to reach us from the shores of antiquity.

In this course, we will read a selection of their poetry, explore “love” as a provocative alternative lifestyle to Roman militarism, reflect on the elusive “poetic I,” replay the detective work of scholarship that went into profiling Cornelius Gallus, and, more generally, appreciate the “good things in small packages,” which have exerted a considerable influence on later poets of all times, some of whom we’ll look at in the final session.

Christopher Krebs, Associate Professor of Classics, Stanford

Christopher Krebs studied Classics and philosophy in Berlin and Kiel and at Oxford and taught at Harvard before coming to Stanford. He is the author of A Most Dangerous Book: Tacitus’s Germania from the Roman Empire to the Third Reich, which received the 2012 Christian Gauss Award. Krebs has also written for The Wall Street Journal and The Times Literary Supplement.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Peter Green (translator) OR Guy Lee (Translator), The Poems of Catullus, Bilingual Edition OR Oxford World's Classics edition (ISBN 0520253868, 0199537577)
(Required) Guy Lee (translator), Propertius: The Poems (ISBN 0199555923)
(Required) Rodney G. Dennis (translator), The Complete Poems of Tibullus (ISBN 0520272544)
(Required) A.D. Melville (translator), Ovid: The Love Poems (ISBN 0199540330)