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CLAS210 Ancient Literature: Love Poetry

Some Study Questions
Greek and Roman Lyric Poets


1. What is a convivial poem and discuss some of its typical themes?

2. Briefly discuss a love poem which uses a myth as its central feature.

3. List at least two different ways in which Greek lyric poets reacted to the rule of tyrants. Give examples.

4. What are hymeneia? Give an example.

1. Discuss Archilochos' use of Homeric language, vocabulary, and thought.

2. List two biographical details concerning Archilochos which can be derived from his poetry. Which poems provide this evidence? Discuss the reliability of this evidence.

3. The Cologne Epode can be considered an imitation of the seduction scene in the Iliad 14. In what ways does Archilochos expand the Homeric association of the female with the fertility of Nature? Be specific.

4. Discuss Archilochos' use of proverbs and Aesop's fables. Give at least two (2) examples and discuss these examples in their poetic contexts.

5. Discuss the possible roles of invective (iambus) in Archilochos' poetry. Be sure to refer to at least two (2) of Archilochos' poems.

6. Discuss the metaphors in the following poem:

Passionate love relentlessly twists a cord under my heart and spreads deep mist on my eyes, stealing the unguarded brains from my head.

7. What is an epode? Give an example.

1. Who is Wilamowitz and how has he influenced modern interpretations of Sappho and her poetry?

2. What elements of formal prayer (cult song) can be seen in Sappho's "Prayer to Aphrodite" (B147)? Explain.

3. List two biographical details concerning Sappho which can be derived from her poetry. Which poems provide this evidence? Discuss the reliability of this evidence.

4. Discuss two (2) features of Greek Hymeneia which are illustrated in Sappho's poetry.

5. Discuss Sappho's comparison of her friend Anaktoria to things which some say are "the supreme sight on the black earth," What does this poem have in common with Archilochos' poem in which he abandons his shield?

6. Discuss the simile in the following poem :

In gold sandals
dawn like a thief
fell upon me.

7. How has Sappho's reputation been rehabilitated in modern times. By whom?

1. Discuss Alkaios' use of "ship of state" imagery.

2. Using Alkaios' poetry for examples, discuss several characteristics of Greek convivial or sympotic poetry.

3. Explain Alkaios' use of mythic references in his "Helen and Thetis" poem. What poetic purposes do these references serve?

1. What is a partheneia? Give several characteristics of this type based on Alkman's poetry.

2. Discuss several images in Alkman's "Song for a Choir of Virgins". What poetic effects do these images create?

3. Analyze the following poem by Alkman:

It is not Aphrodite but riotious Eros who is playing like a child,
scuttling down across the tips of meadow ferns.
Please, do not crush them.

4. In what sense is nature unsympathetic in the following poem by Ibykos?

In spring the quince trees
ripen in the girls' holy orchard
with river waters;
and grapes turn violet
under the shade of luxuriant leafage
and newborn shoots.

But for me, Eros
knows no winter sleep, and as north winds |burn down from Thrace
with searing lightning
Kypris mutilates my heart with black
and baleful love.

1. Discuss the imagery in the following poem by Ibykos.

Even now Eros looks at me with tenderness
from under dark eyelids, and casts me spellbound
into Aphrodite's nets where I lie caught
for I swear his mere approach makes me tremble
like an old champion chariot horse, as he draws a swift cart unwillingly to the race.

2. Compare Ibykos' Eros poems (see question 7 and 8 ) to Eros poems by other Greek poets already read in this course. How are they similar? How are they different?

1. Compare Anakreon's "Prayer to Dionysus" with Sappho's "Prayer to Aphrodite".

2. Briefly outline the life of Anakreon. Refer to his poetry for evidence wherever possible.

3. Analyze the following poem by Anakreon:

Lord, I clamber up the white cliff
and dive into the steaming wave,
O dead drunk love.

1. Discuss some of the common features of the Laments to Daphnis, Adonis and Bion.

2. Why does Theokritos title his poems idylls? What is the connection between an idyll and the word "idyllic" as it is used today

3. Compare Theokritos' Idyll XVIII "Helen's Bridal Hymn" with Sappho's hymeneia. How are they similar? How are they different?

4. Compare and contrast Theokritos' Idyll XXVII ("The Seduction") with Archilichos' "Cologne Epode".

5. Define a pattern poem; discuss its chief characteristics; give and example from your readings.

6. Discuss the goals of Hellenistic poetry. What poetic features serve to accomplish these goals?

7. What does the "idyll" mean? What does the "idyllic" mean? Explain why the meanings of these terms are different.

8. Identify the author of this poem and analyze the poem:

Didyme plunders me with her beauty.
When I look at her I am wax over fire.
If she's black, what of it? So are coals.
When kindled, they glowed like blooming roses.

9. Identify the author of this poem and analyze the poem:

O morning star, bright enemy of love,
how slowly you turn around the world
while Demos lies warm with another under her cloak.
But when my slender love lay on my chest,
how swiftly you came to stand above us,
drenching us with light that seemed to laugh at our loss.

10. What is an "exclusus amator" poem? Discuss several of its chief characteristics.

11. What is the "Greek Anthology"? Outline its history.

12. Discuss the relationship of the poems of Anakreon to the Anakreonteia.

13. Moschus' poem "Europa" contains a story-within-a-story. What is this story and how does it relate to the story of Europa?

14. Discuss the lamp theme in several of Meleager's love poems.

15. Analyze Theokritos' Idyll II ("The Witch").

1. Compare and contrast Lesbia, Delia, and Cynthia as they are portrayed in Roman poetry.

2. Define the Latin love Elegy and outline its basic characteristics as they appear in the poetry of Tibullus and Propertius.

3. In what ways can all of Latin poets you have read be considered to be Hellenistic in style? What, if anything, is the Roman contribution to love poetry?

4. Discuss the relations of both Vergil's Eclogues and Tibullus' Elegies to pastoral poetry.

5. How does the theme of confiscation affect Vergil's Eclogues?

6. Why does Catullus dedicate his poems to Cornelius Nepos?

7. What poetic standards does Catullus exhibit in this dedication poem?

8. In his first poem about Lesbia's sparrow, does Catullus wish he were Lesbia or the sparrow? Why?

9. What happens to the sparrow in the second sparrow poem? What types of poems is this modeled on?

10. What reason does Catullus give Lesbia why they should go on living and loving despite all gossip?

11. Why should the lose count of the number of their kisses?

12. Where does Catullus ask his good friends Furius and Aurelius to go for him?

13. With what message?

14. On what condition does Catullus pray that the people of Colonia get a new bridge?

15. What weapons does Catullus use to get his belongings back from Lesbia?

16. What two Latin poets wrote poems about their women's pet birds? Briefly compare and contrast these poems.

17. What is Catullus' "Attis" poem about? How may this story relate to Catullus' relationship with Lesbia?

18. What elements make up the Golden Age for Tibullus? Why?

19. What Greek poet does Propertius choose as his model? How?

20. List three lament poems by Latin poets and briefly describe them.

21. What is the exact relationship between the poetry of Tibullus and Sulpicia?

22. In poem 42 Catullus tries to get his poems back from Lesbia. What two techniques does he use? With what effect.

23. Discuss at least two ways in which Ovid's poetry reveals his legal background.

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