October 9, 2010

Exploring the classical world

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Available on iTunes or OU Podcasts

Supporting the Open University course of the same name, and despite the title, this series of podcasts is focused entirely upon classical poetry. There are 11 podcasts along with transcripts. The shortest is 10 minutes and the longest 24 minutes. All the podcasts are audio only and have a high level of production quality. Various classical poems are recited in both the original Ancient Greek or Latin, as well as translated English.

The series starts with a couple of lectures on Homer’s Odyssey. This is followed by a further two lectures on the issues in translating Homer and why the translations can never be an exact match for the original. The series then moves to Rome and Catullus, before finishing with Horace and the satires of Juvenal. Most of the lectures focus on the literary aspects of the works and not the historical context. For instance, the meter of classical poetry is quite different to modern English poetry. The rhythmic pattern of classical poetry is based on the length of syllables rather than the stress on syllables. Little time is given to the historical context of the works. One exception is the lecture on Catullus (which may need a little background knowledge on the late Roman Republic). Some of Catullus’ work insulted important people of the age (in particular Clodius), and this may not have been the wisest course of action – although he was forgiven by Caesar after an apology.

Skippable, unless you have a particular interest in classical poetry.

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