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P. Ovidius Naso


Over the course of the semester you have read many epics and, so doing, you have become skilled readers of the genre itself.

     Now it is time to put those skills to work with regard to Ovid's Metamorphoses, which is widely regarded as the quintessential epic poem.

     Seven episodes (or groups of episodes) from the Metamorphoses have been selected.  Two students will be assigned to report on one of the episodes.  The reports will offer ways of reading the episodes as representative of the genre of epic.  Students may present their ideas individually or in tandem;  nevertheless, some effort should be made to coordinate the report so that it offers a maximum amount of information in a minimum of time.  Each report should last no longer than 15 minutes.

     Your report is worh 20% of your grade in CC 224.  Please treat it like the capstone experience it is inended to be.


Each report should describe the ways in which the episode conforms to the genre of epic.  That is, what would you say if someone were to ask what is so "epic" about your portion of the Metamorphoses?

     Here are some approaches to help you answer that question.

  • Themes.  How does the episode repeat themes or larger issues from other epics?  (Anger, for instance.)
  • Scenes.  Have scenes or details from your episode been done before?
  • Programs.  Does your episode respond to the cultural or literary issues underlying other epics?  (For example, Callimachus' polemical stance on epic.)
  • Techniques.  Does your scene feature internal narration or ekphrasis or similes — any of the "tools" of epic storytelling?

The ultimate question for your episode is:  Does it say the things that epic says, do what epic does, mean what epic means?  Be prepared to cite (and read aloud) passages from other authors, where appropriate.

     That said, you should be prepared to note where Ovid departs from the rules of epic, where he seems to be innovating within the genre or changing the traditions handed down by earlier poets.

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© 2001 Skidmore College Classics Department