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CL 310 : Opera
Introduction Scansion Scholarship

This page contains information and links on additional assignments, or opera (sing. opus) due throughout the semester.

The opera are of two kinds: scansion drills 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 dactylic hexameter.

Although we will cover the basics of scansion in class, additional information can and should be gleaned from the Hexametrica website.

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

Date Purpose Selection
01.30.18 practice Met. 1.1–4: Proem
02.06.18 drill 1 Met. 1.94–100: The Creation
02.13.18 drill 2 Met. 1.175–181: Mt. Olympus
02.17.18 quiz 1 Met. 1.125–129: Ages of Mankind
02.27.18 drill 3 Met. 6.53–60: Arachne vs. Minerva
03.06.18 drill 4 Met. 8.773–781: Erysichthon
03.20.18 drill 5 Met. 1.504–511: Apollo & Daphne
03.24.18 quiz 2 Met. 8.830–834: Erysichthon again
04.03.18 drill 6 Met. 4.128–136: Pyramus & Thisbe
04.10.18 drill 7 Met. 6.571–580: Tereus, Procne, & Philomela
04.17.18 drill 8 Met. 10.368–376: Myrrha
04.21.18 quiz 3 Met. 6.61–69: Arachne vs. Minerva

Each member of the seminar will lead a discussion on a chapter from Elaine Fantham's book on the Metamorphoses (2004, Oxford University Press).

Date Leader Article
02.08.18 Cail Chapter 10: "After Ovid"
02.22.18  Heath Chapter 2: "Creation, Flood, and Fire"
03.08.18 Taylor Chapter 4: "Human Artistry & Divine Jealousy"
03.22.18 Smith Chapter 6: "Aspects of Love"
04.05.18 Miller Chapter 5: "The Lives of Women"
04.19.18 Gross Chapter 9: "Genre and Narrative"

The purpose of these discussions is for students to become better readers of Ovidian epic 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 chapter in question.  One student will be responsible for leading and facilitating in-class discussion with these guidelines in mind.


Aim for a discussion that lasts about 15 minutes.

Discussion leaders should NOT simply summarize what Fantham has to say, as if giving a book report. Rather, they must attempt to generate an active discussion among their 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 Fantham say on p. 27?

YES: On p. 27 Fantham says such-and-such. How does this statement reflect her argument overall?

NO:  What is a paraclausithyron?

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

NO: What is Fantham's conclusion?

YES: Does Fantham's conclusion seem justified on the basis of her evidence?

The "yes" questions take content for granted and prompt peers to comment on Fantham's 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.


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

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

© 2018 Skidmore College Classics Department