Departmental Papers (Classical Studies)

For over two centuries Penn has offered a variety of undergraduate and graduate programs representing all aspects of the broad field of Classical Studies, from languages and literature to history, archaeology and cultural studies. The Department encourages interdisciplinary and comparative approaches to teaching and research and maintains productive ties with a variety of programs, including Religious Studies, English, Comparative Literature, Medieval Studies, Philosophy, Linguistics, Italian Studies, History of Art, and the Penn Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.



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Now showing 1 - 10 of 61
  • Publication
    Eduard Fraenkel on Horace and Servius, or, Texts, Contexts, and the Field of "Latin Studies"
    (2005-01-01) Farrell, Joseph; Farrell, Joseph
    This essay traces the recent trajectory of the field of "Latin Studies" using the example of interpretations of Horace's Carmen saeculare and showing, in particular, the increasingly comprehensive relevance attributed to historical context. It sketches a shift away from formalist interpretation and, to an even greater degree, away from practices, such as textual criticism, that once virtually defined the field
  • Publication
    Dialogue of Genres in Ovid's "Lovesong of Polyphemus" (Metamorphoses 13.719-897)
    (1992) Farrell, Joseph; Farrell, Joseph
    Among the central critical issues surrounding Ovid's Metamorphoses--indeed, underlying many of this challenging text's unsolved problems--is the question of genre. Is the poem epic or a species of epic (e.g., anti-epic, epic parody, elegized epic, or epicized elegy); a type of Kollektivgedicht, stringing together either a series of examples from some miniature form such as the epyllion, or else sampling now one genre, now another; or is it simply unique, resisting any effort at categorization? Despite the intelligent and detailed discussion that the question has received during the past seventy-five years, it is safe to say that no critical consensus has emerged.
  • Publication
    Roman Homer
    (2004-01-01) Farrell, Joseph; Farrell, Joseph
    Latinists are accustomed to measuring Homer’s presence in Rome by his impact on Roman poetry. Epic looms largest in this regard, but most poetic genres can be regarded to some extent as derivatives of Homer. And even outside of poetry, Homer’s impact on Latin letters is not small. But the reception of Homer by Roman culture is a very widespread phenomenon that is hardly confined to literature. Homerising literature in Latin needs to be understood as part of a much broader and more pervasive Homeric presence in material culture and social practice. Abundant evidence from the material and social spheres shows that elite Romans lived in a world pervaded by Homer, and would have done whether Roman poets had interested themselves in Homer or not. That the poets did so should be regarded as an outgrowth of material and social considerations rather than as their source. This is not to challenge traditional ideas about the importance of literary–historical engagements with Homer by Livius Andronicus, Ennius, Virgil and others. Such ideas have been voiced many times, and each of these important authors is in his own way justified to claim the title of ‘the Roman Homer’. But habitual celebration of poetic achievement without due attention to the broader cultural milieu in which the poets worked has produced a very partial picture of Homer’s presence throughout Roman culture. Accordingly, in part one of this essay I will survey the nonliterary presence of Homer in Rome and elsewhere in Italy as a context for understanding Homeric elements in the realm of Roman literature. In the second half of the essay, I will proceed to literary evidence, but will focus on those aspects that look to the circulation of Homer in Roman social life, again as a context for more belletristic performances of Homer. In following this procedure, I do not mean to give short shrift to such monuments of Homeric culture as Ennius’ Annales and Virgil’s Aeneid. Rather, I hope to redress an imbalance between the use of literary and nonliterary evidence in assessing Homer’s impact at Rome.
  • Publication
    Reading and Writing the Heroides
    (1998) Farrell, Joseph; Farrell, Joseph
    A more accurate title for this paper might have been "Reading, Writing, Editing, and Translating the Heroides" because it will treat not only of the polar relationship between reader and writer but also of the mediating roles represented by those sometimes troublesome interpreters who stand between them. Accordingly, I will be drawing attention to certain more or less traditional literary issues as well as to a set of philological problems that have tended to inhibit the appreciation of these poems as literature-namely, those problems that crop up in the debate over the authenticity of certain poems and parts of poems in the collection.
  • Publication
    Goethe's Elegiac Sabbatical
    (2010-01-01) Farrell, Joseph; Farrell, Joseph
    Any effort to interpret Goethe's career according to a single, pre-existing pattern would obviously be misconceived. Not only was his literary career a vast, sprawling thing in itself, but it was thoroughly intertwined with several others, including those of courrier, politician, diplomat, scientist and artist, Moreover, several of these callings interacted quite directly with his work as a writer. Even if we focus on Goethe's literary career in the narrowest possible sense, we cannot really speak in any simple way either of continuous Virgilian ascent through ever more elevated genres, or of Horatian retirement to an aesthetic angulus, or of any other model derived from the careers of Classical poets as the dominant lens through which to view Goethe's experience. And let us admit this at once: the evidence that Goethe himself modelled his own career upon any of these patterns is non-existent. In this respect he differs from Petrarch, Spenser, Marlowe, Milton and other poets who explicitly represent themselves as fashioning their careers after Virgilian, Horatian and Lucanian proto-types. All of this might seem to make Goethe an unpromising subject in the context of career studies.
  • Publication
    The Six Books of Lucretius’ De Rerum Natura: Antecedents and Influence
    (2010-01-01) Farrell, Joseph; Farrell, Joseph
    Lucretius’ De rerum natura is one of the relatively few corpora of Greek and Roman literature that is structured in six books. It is distinguished as well by features that encourage readers to understand it both as a sequence of two groups of three books (1+2+3, 4+5+6) and also as three successive pairs of books (1+2, 3+4, 5+6). This paper argues that the former organizations scheme derives from the structure of Ennius’ Annales and the latter from Callimachus’ book of Hynms. It further argues that this Lucretius’ union of these two six-element schemes influenced the structure employed by Ovid in the Fasti. An appendix endorses Zetzel’s idea that the six-book structure of Cicero’s De re publica marks that work as well as a response to Lucretius’ poem.
  • Publication
    Introduction to Augustan Poetry and the Roman Republic
    (2013-01-01) Farrell, Joseph; Farrell, Joseph; Nelis, Damien P
    A considerable body of recent scholarship has been devoted to investigating the ways in which societies remember, studying not only what they construct as memorable but also why and how they do so. Adopting a narrower focus, this volume examines the ways in which different aspects and images of the Roman Republic are created and exploited by the Augustan poets. Our subject immediately suggests two obvious strategies:- on the one hand, emphasis on a strictly historical project; on the other, concentration on versions of literary history. The latter has been more popular and influential in recent Latin scholarship, but the former has not been without its adherents, as the lively debate in recent historical research has fought over the value of ancient literary sources for reconstructing the early history of Rome and, crucially, for the origins of the Republic and the struggle of the orders. Simultaneously, recent work on Livy has provided strong support for a pre-Actian dating for the beginning of the composition of his history, and so has vastly improved our appreciation of the complexity and subtlety of this extraordinarily ambitious and influential historiographical project. In addition, more sophisticated readings of Roman historians in general that are themselves influenced by the application of New Critical techniques of dose reading developed by critics of poetic texts, have begun in turn to impinge on the ways in which the Latin poetry of the Augustan age is interpreted. Just as historical writers employ the materials of poetry and what we now call fiction-myth and metaphor, artful structuration, and the careful activation of intertextual possibilities involving models in both prose and verse-Augustan poets reveal their keen awareness of and interest in different historiographical modes, such as those of universal history, regal chronicles, and the tropes of annalistic writing. They are also interested in some of the characteristic themes and devices of historical writing, such as battle narrative, civil conflict, ethnography, speeches, and debates, even as they too engage intertextually with precise historiographical models in pointed and influential ways. The challenge for this volume, then, is not so much to ask whether the Augustan poets are concerned with Roman history, but to gain greater clarity with regard to the questions of how and to what end they may be seen as presenting their past as a specifically Republican history. In setting out to think about this vast topic, one which can only be treated in a highly selective manner in a book such as this, a series of obvious questions comes immediately to mind. Are there any particular aspects of the Republic that Augustan poets seem to remember with particular frequency and immediacy? Equally, are there any aspects they seem to prefer to forget? How do they shape the past in relation to the present: do they favour narratives of continuity, rupture, or repetition? What other forms of periodization do they adopt? And finally, how are we to define any given poet as 'Augustan'? Amidst such a bewildering array of questions, it seems advisable to attempt to seek some solid ground as a starting point.