In a couple of weeks time a friend of mine (who's now doing a PhD in classics at Columbia University in New York) will be giving a talk at Sydney Uni, entitled "Horace the Satirist and Sarmentus the 'Scurra': Literary and Political Competition in Satires 1.5". That doesn't mean a lot to me, but James is a very clever guy and a very engaging speaker, and I am sure his talk will be well worth going to. For more info, visit this page.
As a bit of a taster, here's a brief excerpt of a talk he gave a couple of years ago now on Roman love elegy:
Last Thursday, at 4am in the morning, on a dirty grey pavement in Paddington, as I stood there outside her door amongst the significantly abandoned McDonalds wrappers and discarded casks of Lambrusco (ours), I was, ceremoniously, dumped by my long-term partner (of two weeks). It had been a whirlwind two weeks – or, at least, it had been for me: two weeks of over-excited displays of public affection, incessant dropping of the words ‘my girlfriend’ in conversation, long hours staring at a mobile phone screen awaiting SMS’s. And most of all, it was two weeks of that exhilarating insecurity which we romantics call ‘love’...
Back on that pavement, though, as I was wandering away from her cruelly closed door, it was a line from Ovid’s Amores, from poem 19 of book 2, which immediately came to mind: Nil ego, quod nullo tempore laedat, amo – ‘I don’t love anything which never hurts me’. It struck me at that moment how well this line worked as, simultaneously, both a witty comment on the overplayed nature of a tired literary convention and a sympathetic motto for the perpetually screwed around. As I will argue throughout this lecture, the most sympathetic reader of Ovid’s love poetry, the lover, may find emotional resonance even in the most parodic of Ovid’s literary manoeuvres, and he or she might relate exactly to feeling love of an entirely disproportionate nature, or even argue that the disproportionate nature of emotions when in love is, well, entirely the point.
[James Uden, The Development of Roman Love Elegy and What it Means for You, lecture delivered 17/6/05]