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CL 310 : Opera
Introduction Scansion Discussions Reports

This page contains information and links on additional assignments, or opera, throughout the semester.

The opera are of three kinds: scansion drills, reports on Roman historical / cultural topics germane to Catullus and his world, and discussions of secondary sources.



Every week students will be assigned passages from our readings to scan -- that is, to break down into the metrical units of the meter in question. The meters upon which we will focus this term are hendecasyllabics, Sapphic strophe, limping iambics, dactylic hexameter, and elegiac couplet.

Although we will cover the basics of scansion in class, additional information can and should be extrapolated from the Hexametrica website, which will prove particularly helpful for dactylic meters like the hexameter and elegiac couplet.

Links to each assignment are given below: download, print out, and fill in (MS Word required).

Date Purpose Selection
01.24.17 practice Cat. 1.1–4 (hendecasyllabics)
01.31.17 drill 1 Cat. 1.5–10 (hendecasyllabics)
02.07.17 drill 2 Cat. 42.1–6 (hendecasyllabics)
02.14.17 drill 3 Cat. 13.1–8 (hendecasyllabics)
02.14.17 practice Cat. 51.1–8 (Sapphic strophe)
02.19.17 quiz 1 Cat 14.1–5 (hendecasyllabics)
02.21.17 drill 4 Cat. 51.9–16 (Sapphic strophe)
02.23.17 practice Cat. 70 (elegiac couplet)
02.28.17 drill 5 Cat. 72 (elegiac couplet)
03.02.17 practice Cat. 60 (limping iambics)
03.07.17 drill 6 Cat. 8.1–8 (limping iambics)
03.21.17 drill 7 Cat 11.13–20 (Sapphic strophe)
03.26.17 quiz 2 Cat 8.12–19 (limping iambics)
03.28.17 drill 8 Cat. 101 (elegiac couplet)
04.04.17 drill 9 Cat. 84.1–8 (elegiac couplet)
04.11.17 drill 10 Cat. 88 (elegiac couplet)
04.13.17 practice Cat. 64.50–5 (dactylic hexameter)
04.16.17 quiz 3 Cat. 69.5–10 (elegiac couplet)
04.18.17 drill 11 Cat. 64.1–7 (dactylic hexameter)a
04.25.17 drill 12 Cat. 64.132-8 (dactylic hexameter)
05.02.17 drill 13 Cat. 64.381-9 (dactylic hexameter)a

Each member of the seminar will deliver a brief report on a historical / cultural topic pertinent to our readings:

Date Topic Reporter
01.31.17 Licinius Calvus and Io Le
02.09.17 Cinna and Zmyrna Rueda
02.16.17 Sappho Strileckis
02.28.17 Roman adultery Brady
03.28.17 Roman funerary rites Griffin
04.11.17 Roman marriage Cail

Each reporter should adhere to the following guidelines:

Length and format

Aim for a report that lasts no more than 15 minutes, and that provides a solid introduction to the topic. Highlight the most important aspects, but also give the audience direction for further information. The goal is to offer useful background for the Catullan reader.


Prepare a handout with the most salient points — not the entire presentation — and with any other pertinent information (such as quotations from your readings). List your sources on the handout with a bibliography.


The sources, at the risk of sounding standoffish, must be scholarly in tone and in methodology, and must be listed in a standard bibliographic format. Encyclopedias such as the Oxford Classical Dictionary and Brill's New Pauly are excellent starting points, but they are not necessarily the endpoints.

Be sure to consult the CL 310 Reserve List at the Scribner Library website, as well as the Resources Page, and feel free to ask any Classics faculty member for help once you have done your initial research.

Reporters will probably do much more research than can be squeezed into 15 minutes: that's the truth of it. Please do adhere to the time limit: practice your report beforehand and trim where necessary. Knowing what to include is a mark of critical thinking, which skill you must develop for the semester project.


Each member of the seminar will lead a discussion on scholarly articles relevant to our Catullan readings:

Date Article Leader(s)
03.07.17 Schmiel, R. "The Structure of C. 8"
03.09.17 Forsyth, P. Y. "Thematic Unity of C. 11"
03.23.17 Marsilio et al. "Poverty & Poetic Rivalry"
04.04.17 Vandiver, E. "Sound Patterns in C. 84."
04.06.17 Scott, W. C. "Catullus & Caesar (c. 29)"
04.20.17 Sklenar, R. "Fabrics of Catullus 64"

The purpose of these discussions is for students to become better readers of Latin poetry with the help of scholarship, and to understand how that scholarship has evolved from the efforts of other scholars.

On the day of a discussion, everyone will come to class having read the piece in question. One student will be responsible for leading and facilitating discussion with the following guidelines in mind.

Length and format

Aim for a discussion that lasts about 15–20 minutes.

The discussion leader should NOT simply summarize what the author(s) has to say, as if giving a book report. Rather, they must attempt to generate an active discussion among peers by asking questions that elicit genuine interpretation of the scholarship at hand.


Interpretive questions focus on "why" or "how," rather than "what" or "who." Some examples:

NO: What does [Author(s)] say on p. 27?

YES: On p. 27 [Author] says such-and-such. How does this statement help us understand other Catullan poems we have read?

NO: What is a paraclausithyron?

YES: How does understanding the paraclausithyron enhance our understanding of this poem?

NO: What is [Author]'s conclusion?

YES: How does [Author]'s conclusion help us understand Catullus at large?

The "yes" questions take content for granted and prompt peers to comment on the author's content and (if absolutely necessary) methodology.

Another kind of interpretive question asks about something the discussion leader genuinely does not understand. Such a question circumvents the feeling that the leader is fishing for an answer, though it should be deployed judiciously.


The discussion leader should read the article well in advance, then prepare a series of judicious discussion questions.

The leader should not expect to generate questions from a single, cursory reading of their assigned piece. Rather, they must know their piece inside and out — not only findings and conclusions, but also methodologies and interpretive frameworks.

That said, the leader must allow the discussion to venture beyond the confines of the script — that is, to ask helpful questions on the fly. In fact, one should accept the fact that several questions might go unasked during the discussion.


Every discussion should begin with the leader stating, out loud, all of the piece's pertinent bibliographic information: the author, title, and other publication information.

If the piece is a journal article, the name of the journal should be given, as well as the volume and page numbers. If it is an essay in an edited volume, the name of the volume, the publisher, the names of the editors, the year, and the page numbers should all be given.


The leader should ask prepared questions in an orderly fashion, being ready (as noted above) for the conversation to take its own course. Avoid the temptation to answer your own questions, keep the discussion moving.

The leader should use the author's (or authors') last names whenever possible; phrases like, "they say" or "it says" (which are disrespectful to the scholar) should be avoided.

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