Table of Contents
Symbols and Terms
1. Ovid and His Times
2. Ovid’s Literary Progression: Elegy to Epic
3. The Metamorphoses: A Literary Monstrum
3a. Genre Matters
3b. A Collection of Metamorphic Tales
3c. A Universal History
3d. Anthropological Epic
3e. A Reader’s Digest of Greek and Latin Literature
4. Ovid’s Theban Narrative
5. The Set Text: Pentheus and Bacchus
5a. Sources and Intertexts
5b. The Personnel of the Set Text
6. The Bacchanalia and Roman Culture
511–26: Tiresias’ Warning to Pentheus
527–71: Pentheus’ Rejection of Bacchus
531–63: Pentheus’ Speech
572–691: The Captive Acoetes and his Tale
692–733: Pentheus’ Gruesome Demise
2. Glossary of Rhetorical and Syntactic Figures
About the Book
This extract from Ovid's 'Theban History' recounts the confrontation of Pentheus, king of Thebes, with his divine cousin, Bacchus, the god of wine. Notwithstanding the warnings of the seer Tiresias and the cautionary tale of a character Acoetes (perhaps Bacchus in disguise), who tells of how the god once transformed a group of blasphemous sailors into dolphins, Pentheus refuses to acknowledge the divinity of Bacchus or allow his worship at Thebes. Enraged, yet curious to witness the orgiastic rites of the nascent cult, Pentheus conceals himself in a grove on Mt. Cithaeron near the locus of the ceremonies. But in the course of the rites he is spotted by the female participants who rush upon him in a delusional frenzy, his mother and sisters in the vanguard, and tear him limb from limb.
The episode abounds in themes of abiding interest, not least the clash between the authoritarian personality of Pentheus, who embodies 'law and order', masculine prowess, and the martial ethos of his city, and Bacchus, a somewhat effeminate god of orgiastic excess, who revels in the delusional and the deceptive, the transgression of boundaries, and the blurring of gender distinctions.
This course book offers a wide-ranging introduction, the original Latin text, study aids with vocabulary, and an extensive commentary. Designed to stretch and stimulate readers, Gildenhard and Zissos's incisive commentary will be of particular interest to students of Latin at AS and undergraduate level. It extends beyond detailed linguistic analysis to encourage critical engagement with Ovid's poetry and discussion of the most recent scholarly thought.
About the Contributors
Ingo Gildenhard is Reader in Classics and the Classical Tradition at Cambridge University, and a Fellow of King’s College Cambridge. His previous publications include the monographs Paideia Romana: Cicero's Tusculan Disputations (Cambridge, 2007) and Creative Eloquence: The Construction of Reality in Cicero's Speeches (Oxford, 2011). He has also published four further textbooks with Open Book Publishers: Cicero, Against Verres, 2.1.53-86; Virgil, Aeneid, 4.1-299; (with Mathew Owen) Tacitus, Annals, 15.20-23, 33-45 and (with Louise Hodgson) Cicero, On Pompey’s Command (De Imperio), 27-49.
Andrew Zissos is Associate Professor of Classics at the University of California, Irvine. He is the author of numerous articles on imperial Roman literature and its reception, along with a commentary on Book 1 of Valerius Flaccus’ Argonautica (Oxford 2008); he is co-editor, with Ingo Gildenhard, of Transformative Change in Western Thought: a History of Metamorphosis from Homer to Hollywood (Oxford 2013), and solo editor of a forthcoming Blackwell Companion to the Flavian Age of Imperial Rome.