Introduction to Roman Poetry

An introduction to Latin poetry, mainly Catullus and Ovid. The course assumes you have completed and introductory course in Latin, and have read some prose, though not necessarily very much (Prerequisite: Latin 111).

Meetings: MWF 10:30–11:20, East College 102

Office hours: Mon., Wed., Thurs. 1:30-2:45, or any time by appt. East College 110




·           read Latin poets of moderate difficulty in Latin with appropriate assistance

·           relate the Latin poetry to its historical and literary contexts

·           identify and appreciate literary and stylistic features of Latin poetry


Daniel H. Garrison The Student’s Catullus, 4th edition. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2012. ISBN: 978-0806142326

Maureen B. Ryan and Caroline A. Perkins, Ovid’s Amores, Book One: A Commentary. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 2011. ISBN: 978-0806141442

John Traupman, The Bantam New College Latin & English Dictionary. 3rd ed., 2007. ISBN: 978-0553590128


Websites (links also on Moodle):

Catullus vocabulary lists:

Ovid, Amores Book 1 (text, vocabulary lists, notes):

Core vocabulary:

Scansion videos:



·        Homework (25%)

·        4 tests (40%)

·        paper about translation; podcast (25%)

·        Final exam (10%)



Testable Grammar

The following are the grammatical items that I will ask you about on tests. This obviously is not a complete list of all the grammar one needs to read and translate. Rather, it is a list of special features that appear commonly in the poetry we will be reading, and that I want to make sure you are ready for. On tests I will ask you to identify and translate these things specifically, depending on what appears in a given poem. We will go over all of these, but you should make a point of reviewing on your own anything that looks unfamiliar. Please come see me at any time.

Ablative: abl. of comparison; abl. of degree of difference; ablative absolute; ablative of characteristic

Conditionals: future less vivid condition; future more vivid condition; present contrary to fact condition

Dative: dative of disadvantage; dative of possession; dative of purpose

Future imperative

Genitive: partitive genitive

Gerunds and gerundives: passive periphrastic; passive periphrastic (impersonal). (Review all participles)


Independent subjunctives: hortatory subjunctive; optative subjunctive; jussive subjunctive

Indirect statement: (review all infinitive forms)

Subjunctive clauses: cum-clause; indirect command; indirect question; purpose clause; result clause; relative clause of characteristic (review all forms of qui quae quod); relative clause of purpose

ut + indicative


Testable Vocabulary

For the purposes of the class we can divide vocabulary into three categories:

1.     Core, super-high frequency pronouns, interrogatives, conjunctions and adverbs, (aka “small words” like nam, hic, ille, qui, quis, enim etc.). See lists on handouts.

2.     Core, high frequency words (nouns, adjective, verbs). See the DCC core vocabulary.

3.     Non-core, somewhat rarer vocabulary. See lists that go with the poems.

Category 1 are crucial for any understanding of Latin, and I will expect you to know those very thoroughly. Category 2 are also important, and I will often ask you for their full dictionary form on tests, and in class. You will probably have to look some of these words up when doing the homework. Keep lists of them, make flash cards, memorize them, know them in full dictionary form. Be able to decline and conjugate them in full. Category 3 will be supplied to you when you do your homework, and on tests. The patterns learned in Categories 1 and 2 will apply here as well. So if you can decline, say, the common third-declension adjective omnis, omne, you will be able to recognize the forms of its many other, less common sisters that follow the same pattern.

On tests, all vocabulary not in the DCC core will be glossed, but core items will not be glossed. For sight passages, all non-core items will be glossed, and some core items may also be glossed if you have not encountered them in Latin 111 or 112. But the “small” words (common Latin pronouns and interrogatives, and conjunctions and adverbs) will never be glossed. Focus on those extremely common words, and on knowing full dictionary form of core nouns, adjectives, and verbs.


Preparing for Class

When the syllabus says, “read Catullus 13,” I mean I would like you to do the following:

·           Read the poem aloud in Latin at least twice, without translating.

·           Read it over carefully a few more times and try to get the gist without consulting a dictionary. What is the basic idea or situation? Form a guess at any unknown words. (Do not translate yet).

·           Find word groups and functions. Where are the clauses? What are the conjunctions that divide them? Any parallel structures? Where are the subjects, verbs, and objects of the clauses? Who is doing what to whom? Endings are key here. (You still have not translated anything.)

·           Look up unfamiliar vocabulary. Consult your commentaries to figure out more precisely what is going on.

·           In a notebook, make lists of core vocabulary that you did not know. Include full dictionary form on those lists, and several possible English definitions. Write down any idiomatic or tricky phrases that are glossed in the commentaries.

·           Make sure you know exactly what dictionary head word each word in the text derives from, and what part of speech it is. Make sure you know what case, number, tense, voice, mood etc., everything is in.

·           Double check any declensions or conjugations you are hazy about. On scrap paper, write out any declensions or conjugations you need to review. Say them aloud until they are well memorized.

·           Translate aloud. Make sure you have the grammar correct, in other words, that nominative are the subjects, participles are participles, finite verbs are finite, etc. Note any unusual constructions and try to identify them.

The main written thing you come out with is a list of vocabulary, a few notes, and maybe some declensions and conjugations. Notice that you have still not written out a translation. Writing out translations is unnecessary, and even harmful, since if you get something incorrect you are more likely to remember it incorrectly if you have written it out. Vocabulary items in full dictionary form and declensions are never incorrect. Write those down repeatedly.

In class I will call on you to translate or discuss the meaning of a specific phrase. If you have done the above well, you will have a pretty good idea of what the text means. Your translation does not have to be absolutely perfect. We will go over details in class.

When preparing for tests, brush up first on vocabulary in full dictionary form, using your lists, then go back a re-translate, noting grammatical constructions as you go.  

Assignment Schedule

M 1/19                Introduction. Meet with me briefly this week to go over pronunciation.

W 1/21                Read Catullus 13.

F   1/23                Read Catullus 12, do worksheet.


M 1/26                Read Catullus 5 and 7.

W 1/28                Catullus 1 and 2.

F   1/30                Do practice test worksheet. Audacity training. Meet in Bosler Microroom.


M  2/2                 Read Catullus 3.

W   2/4                Test 1 (on Catullus 1,2,3, 5,7, 12 and 13. Be able to translate, analyze grammar in these poems, and scan. There will also be a short sight passage with comprehension questions).

F         2/6                Read Catullus 42.


M   2/9                Read Catullus 32 and 16, do worksheet.

W 2/11                Read Catullus 45 and 46.

F   2/13                Read Catullus 49 and 43. Listen to podcast on Catullus 85 (Moodle).


M 2/16                Read Catullus 51, do worksheet.

W 2/18                Read Catullus 11.

F   2/20                Translation paper part I due (literal translation)


M   3/2                Read Catullus 34.

W   3/4                Test 2 on Catullus 11, 16, 32, 42, 43, 45, 46, 49, and 51. Be able to translate and analyze grammar in these poems, and scan. There will also be a short sight passage with comprehension questions.

F         3/6                Read Catullus 8.


Spring Break


M 3/16                Read Catullus 22.

W 3/18                Read Catullus 69, 70, and 72, do worksheet.

F   3/20                Translation paper due (verse translation, discussion).


M 3/23                Read Catullus 75, 83, and 84.

W 3/25                Read Catullus 85, 86, 87, 92.

F   3/27                no class


M 3/30                Read Catullus 93 and 101, do worksheet.

W 4/1                  Test 3 on Catullus 8, 69, 70, 72, 75, 83–87, 92, 93, 101. Be able to translate and analyze grammar in these poems, and scan. There will also be a short sight passage with comprehension questions.

F 4/3                    Read Ovid, Amores 1.9.1­–14.


M 4/6                  Read Ovid, Amores 1.9.15–30.

W 4/8                  Read Ovid, Amores 1.9.31–46.

F 4/10                  Podcast script due


M 4/13                            Read Ovid, Amores 1.4. 1–14.

W 4/15                Read Ovid, Amores 1.4. 15–30.

F 4/17                  Test 4 on Ovid, Amores 1.9, 1.4.1–30. Be able to translate and analyze grammar in these poems, and scan. There will also be a short sight passage with comprehension questions.


M 4/20                Read Ovid, Amores 1.4.31–46. meet with me this week to go over pronunciation of poem for the podcast.

W 4/22                Read Ovid, Amores 1.4.47–70.

F   4/24                Podcast due as .mp3 via Moodle.


M 4/28                Read Ovid, Amores 1.5.1–15.

W 4/30                Ovid, Amores 1.5.16–26.

F         5/2                review


Thurs. 5/7           9:00-12:00 Multiple choice Latin diagnostic test and Final exam on Amores 1.4 and 5. Be able to translate and analyze grammar in these poems, and scan. There will also be a short sight passage with comprehension questions.