Love and erotic poetry from the Greek, Roman and Sanskrit traditions
Time: 14:30 - 16:00
This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
Course Code: RT647
Duration: 4 sessions (over 4 weeks)
What is the course about?
The aim of this course is to offer an introduction to two masterpieces of Sanskrit erotic poetry, Amaru’s Hundred Verses (7th century) and Bhart¿hari's Hundred Verses on Love (probably 5th century), reading them in English translation and comparing them with love poems by Greek and Roman authors, whose poems will also be presented in English translation.
This is a live online course. You will need:
- Internet connection. The classes work best with Chrome.
- A computer with microphone and camera is best (e.g. a PC/laptop/iMac/MacBook), or a tablet/iPad/smart phone/iPhone if you don't have a computer.
We will contact you with joining instructions before your course starts.
What will we cover?
During the first two sessions of the course, the students will be introduced to a selection of stanzas from two masterpieces of Sanskrit erotic poetry, Amaru’s Hundred Verses (7th century CE) and Bhart¿hari's Hundred Verses on Love (probably 5th century CE); when appropriate, different English translations of the same stanzas will be read and compared, while attention will be given to the history of the reception of such texts in the West, and in particular to how they have been compared (favourably or unfavourably) to Greek and Latin erotic poetry.
The last two sessions of the course will focus on a selection of erotic poems by Greek and Roman authors, including the poetess Sappho (7th-6th century BCE), the lyric poets Archilochus and Alcman (7th century BCE), alongside the Latin poets Catullus, Tibullus, Propertius (1st century BCE) and Martial (1st century CE). In this case, too, different English versions of the same verses will be compared; what’s more, the students will be encouraged to compare and contrast the Sanskrit verses presented in the first half of the course with the erotic texts from the Graeco-Roman tradition to which the second half of the course is dedicated.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
– Show some familiarity with the themes and stylistic features of the traditions of erotic poetry in the Sanskritic and Graeco-Roman cultures.
—Show some familiarity with two masterpieces of Sanskrit erotic poetry, Amaru’s Hundred Verses and Bhart¿hari's Hundred Verses on Love.
– Show an awareness of how these Sanskrit erotic texts have been compared to (or read alongside) Greek and Latin erotic poetry.
– Show some familiarity with a selection of erotic poems by Greek and Roman authors, including Sappho, Archilochus, Alcman, Catullus, Tibullus, Propertius and Martial.
– Find similarities as well as divergences between the Sanskrit, Greek and Latin erotic poems presented in this course.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
This course has been designed for a general audience who has an interest for classical literatures and cultures; since all the materials presented during the course will be in English, it is not necessary to have any knowledge of Classical Greek, Latin or Sanskrit.
As this course is taught in English, you should be able to follow verbal and written instructions in English and take part in group discussions.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
This is an online course and will be taught using Zoom; please be aware that the tutors will use Google Classroom, and you are expected to regularly check the course page to find materials (handouts, PowerPoint presentations, etc.), updates, homework and self-assessment forms.
The students are expected to spend roughly 2 hours per week reading through a selection of texts in preparation for each session; such texts will be uploaded onto Google Classroom by the tutors.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
There is no extra cost, as all the course materials (PDFs, PowerPoint presentations and Word documents) will be prepared by the tutors and uploaded onto Google Classroom.
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
This course is the second ‘instalment’ of a tripartite project that aims at adopting a comparative angle in dealing with the Classical Greek, Latin and Sanskrit traditions. The third part – dedicated to sacred hymns from the Greek, Roman and Sanskrit traditions – will take place next year in Term 1 and will be designed and convened by the same tutors.
Maddalena’s love for dead languages began at the Egyptian Museum of Turin, where as a child she would pretend-translate hieroglyphic inscriptions for the amusement of her mother – and the annoyance of her younger brother. Although she studied Greek and Latin at school, it wasn’t until her university years in Milan that she succeeded in deciphering her first inscription in what she thought was the most exciting ancient language – Sanskrit. It was because of Sanskrit that in 2011 Maddalena moved to London, where she completed a Master’s degree and a PhD in South Asian studies (SOAS). As she delved into Neo-Latin commentaries and translations of Sanskrit verses for her thesis, she realised that she still missed reading the Classics. Thus, Maddalena started teaching Greek and Latin at City Lit, where she feels she is constantly reminded why she embarked on a Classics degree more than a decade ago. What’s more, in 2018 she started a pilot Sanskrit course at the British Museum (in partnership with City Lit), which allows her to teach the rudiments of the language while sharing her passion for South Asian manuscripts and miniature paintings.
Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.