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Lectiones provectiorum

Online advanced reading seminars

Text-based seminars

In these once-a-week 90-minute seminars, our teachers choose Latin and ancient Greek texts that they find particularly interesting. Each seminar will consist of reading and discussion in the original language, led by the teacher but to a considerable extent shaped by the students’ response to the text. These highly participative sessions will appeal to those who wish to work on their reading and/or speaking fluency. The cost of each of the seminars is £270.

2024 Winter term
Jan 8-Mar 10


Enrolment deadline Dec 31


Cicero Series, Part II:
Cicero, political animal

with Krasimir Ivanov
Mondays 5-6:30 pm

Women-Only Seminar:
Letters from mythical women - Ovid’s Heroides

with Dr Melinda Letts
Tuesdays 5-6:30 pm

2024 Spring term
Apr 15-Jun 16


Enrolment deadline Apr 7


Cicero Series, Part III:
Cicero, defender of the Republic

with Krasimir Ivanov
Mondays 5-6:30 pm

Women-Only Seminar:
Speaking of myself - glimpsing Cicero and Pliny the Younger through their letters

with Dr Melinda Letts
Tuesdays 5-6:30 pm

Ancient Musical Theory
Thursdays 5-6:30 pm

Winter term
January 8-March 10, 2024

CICERO’S LIFE AND THE POLITICS OF LATE REPUBLICAN ROME, PART II:

CICERO, POLITICAL ANIMAL


with Krasimir Ivanov
Mondays 5-6:30pm UK time, January 8-March 4, 2024

The standard approach to historical events is to examine the decisions of a variety of different players from the perspective of posterity, sometimes at many centuries’ remove. Attention tends to focus on politics, major battles, and broad socio-economic trends.

Another way of looking at history is to narrow the focus by zooming in on one person’s life. Here, the interest lies in the depth of the individual’s thoughts, the critical moments of their life, their dedication to their duties, and so on.

This time, however, why not do something different and enjoy the fruits of both approaches? In this seminar we will take the life of Cicero as the basis of our discussions, but rather than talking only about him we will ask who he was close to, what his connections were, who his rivals and his enemies were, and why life brought them together. What happened? How did things turn out? What came to pass?

Above all in these classes we hope to get a sense of the upheavals of the times, their spirit, their hopes, battles, joys, and disappointments. Our aim will be to try and understand what it was to be born at that moment in history, to grow up, be educated, live, and die at that time. Let’s try and live, with Cicero, through the final act of the famous concordia ordinum.

Now Cicero is on his way. He has met many people, including both Scaevolae, Apollonius of Rhodes, Pomponius Atticus, Julius Caesar, and more. He spends time in Sicily, and starts to become famous at Rome for his rhetorical skill. This is the period when he makes his political choices, continues up the cursus honorum to the consulship, its highest point, and has dealings with a wide range of people. Should he defend Catiline or attack him? Will he ally himself with the most powerful men of the age, or should he leave the triumvirs as he flees the attacks of Clodius Pulcher, at a time when it seems everything is going wrong for him?

This seminar is suitable for students who have completed their Latin grammar studies and are ready to examine one of the most important original Latin authors we have.

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WOMEN-ONLY SEMINAR: LETTERS FROM MYTHICAL WOMEN – OVID’S HEROIDES

with Dr Melinda Letts
Tuesdays 5-6:30 pm UK time, January 9-March 5, 2024

There are comparatively few women in the Latin speaking field, a fact that has nothing to do with ability and everything to do with opportunity. This seminar, led by Melinda Letts, aims to help redress the balance by giving women the opportunity to practise speaking Latin with each other in a mutually supportive environment. Designed for women who are fairly confident readers of Latin and specifically want to begin or develop their speaking ability, the seminar will encourage discussion of students’ response to the texts rather than primarily teaching grammar, though grammatical guidance will be given whenever it is needed.

Ovid’s Heroides consist of 21 elegiac poems, most of which take the form of letters written by women of ancient myth and legend who have suffered in love to the men who have variously deserted, disappointed, deceived or otherwise mistreated them. Examples include Penelope writing to Ulysses, Briseis to Achilles, Phaedra to Hippolytus, Dido to Aeneas, Deianeira to Hercules, Ariadne to Theseus, Medea to Jason, and Hermione to Orestes. Each poem purports to present love from the woman’s point of view; among the things we will discuss in this seminar is the extent to which the male poet has, or could hope to have, understood the perspective of a woman on the receiving end of male desire in societies where women were relatively powerless. Taking one poem per week, we will also spend part of each seminar revisiting the myths themselves and noting other well known representations of the stories.

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Spring term
April 15-June 16, 2024

CICERO’S LIFE AND THE POLITICS OF LATE REPUBLICAN ROME, PART III:

CICERO, DEFENDER OF THE REPUBLIC


With Krasimir Ivanov
Mondays 5-6:30 pm UK time, April 15-June 10, 2024

The standard approach to historical events is to examine the decisions of a variety of different players from the perspective of posterity, at many centuries' remove. Attention tends to focus on politics, major battles, and broad socio-economic trends.

Another way of looking at history is to narrow the focus by zooming in on one person's life. Here, the interest lies in the depth of the individual’s thoughts, the critical moments of their life, their dedication to their duties, and so on.

This time, however, why not do something different and enjoy the fruits of both approaches? In this seminar we will take the life of Cicero as the basis of our discussions, but rather than talking only about him we will ask who he was close to, what his connections were, who his rivals and his enemies were, and why life brought them together What happened? How did things turn out? What came to pass?

Above all in these classes we hope to get a sense of the upheavals of the times, their spirit, their hopes, battles, joys, and disappointments. Our aim will be to try and understand what it was to be born at that moment in history, to grow up, be educated, live and die at that time. Let’s try and live, with Cicero, through the final act of the famous concordia ordinum!

This seminar is suitable for students who have completed their Latin grammar studies and are ready to examine one of the most important original Latin authors we have.

Returning from exile, Cicero hoped to find Rome the same city that he had left. But everything had changed …

We will marvel at how this ‘new man’ was recalled by the party of the elite in the hope that he could be the ultimate saviour of the Republic, and we will see how in the end his once commanding voice was silenced.

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WOMEN-ONLY SEMINAR: SPEAKING OF MYSELF – GLIMPSING CICERO AND PLINY THE YOUNGER THROUGH THEIR LETTERS

With Dr. Melinda Letts
Tuesdays 5-6:30 pm UK time, April 16-June 11, 2024

There are comparatively few women in the Latin speaking field, a fact that has nothing to do with ability and everything to do with opportunity. This seminar, led by Melinda Letts, aims to help redress the balance by giving women the opportunity to practise speaking Latin with each other in a mutually supportive environment. Designed for women who are fairly confident readers of Latin and specifically want to begin or develop their speaking ability, the seminar will encourage discussion of students’ response to the texts rather than primarily teaching grammar, though grammatical guidance will be given whenever it is needed.

Cicero and Pliny are both well known for their correspondence. The multiple volumes of Cicero’s letters represent just one of the genres for which he is famous, while in Pliny’s case his ten books of letters are virtually all that remain of his writings. Each author's correspondence was preserved for different reasons: Pliny carefully arranged his letters for publication, while Cicero seems on the whole to have had no such expectation, writing for his friends rather than for posterity. We will read a selection of letters from each author, touching as much as possible on similar themes, and look at what the two authors reveal about themselves, their lives, their interests and their ambitions.

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ANCIENT MUSICAL THEORY

Thursdays 5-6:30 pm UK time, April 18-June 13, 2024

Many learned Greeks wrote about music – Aristoxenus, Ptolemy, Aristides Quintilianus, to name but a few – but there are also Latin sources on which we can draw. What did the ancients consider music to be? What about musicians, harmony, consonance? How did music relate to poetry, oratory, theatre, and culture? What sort of songs were listened to? We will try and answer these questions in our seminars while reading excerpts from the Latin authors Censorius, Augustine, Marcianus Capella, and Boethius.

This course is intended for those who have a good grasp of Latin grammar and wish to work on their reading and speaking fluency.

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