At the conclusion of a seminar on Homer’s Odyssey hosted by UVA’s Center for the Liberal Arts on November 14, 2020, participants were invited to make suggestions for relevant projects to be shared with secondary teachers throughout the state. Provided here is the Latin text with vocabulary and notes on a summary of Ulysses’ return home from Troy entitled Odyssēa, attributed to a certain and otherwise unknown Hyginus who authored a collection of myths entitled Fābulae. With a rich lexical range, the text is highly readable and especially suitable for students who have progressed through Unit 3 of the Cambridge Latin Course, a school text which is in use in many Latin programs in Virginia and, indeed, throughout the country. With the exception of one proviso clause and a single perfect subjunctive, repeated structures provide practice on the subjunctive constructions, passive voice, and deponent verbs presented through CLC Stage 34. Repetitions enhance student practice on the essential pronouns and frequent encounters with apposition and ellipsis facilitate an introduction to literary devices. It is hoped that these materials will serve as outreach for the excellent professional development opportunities available to secondary teachers offered by UVA’s Center for the Liberal Arts. While the text itself is obviously of most use to Latin teachers, an English translation of the Fābulae1 is available online so this project may be of interest to other teachers of the Odyssey as well.
One of the biggest challenges for our students is the dearth of engaging comprehensible texts available for young readers to develop the skills needed to read the more advanced texts of classical and post-classical Latin. And of course there is no greater joy for young readers than to discover a familiar story as they apply recently learned skills to reading in a new language. A summary or epitome such as Hyginus’ Odyssēa offers students further opportunities to study the plot and to compare what they find here with the larger story as told by Homer in the Odyssey. Such comparison of texts nicely complements a significant focus of the seminar which emphasized visual representations of the same stories and themes from antiquity to the present day, an element that teachers may choose to include as well. What parts of Homer did Hyginus retain? What did he leave out? Where does he diverge? These are all topics which teachers and students can explore together as they do the more essential work of reading the Latin text.
The text used in this commentary comes from The Latin Library2 created by our Virginia colleague William Carey. Two versions of the text are provided, one continuous without notes, the other with notes and a facing vocabulary. Both versions are fully macronized to help students develop a consistent pronunciation. To this end a complete recording of the Latin passage is also provided. It is anticipated that these documents will be available both in word and pdf formats so users can adapt them as they see fit. If in your view the aids are too extensive or should you wish to make any modifications to suit the needs of your classroom, please feel free to do so. These aids were prepared with autodidacts in mind so students can use them fruitfully where a teacher may not have the time to include them in the curriculum. They might also be used in Latin club or other after school enrichment and to prepare students for competition in certamen or state convention. Most of all, it is hoped that these materials will be a source of enjoyment and learning for students as they excel to the next higher level of proficiency in their Latin journey.
I would like to thank the Center for the Liberal Arts for the opportunity to attend this seminar and for selecting me to produce this project. I would also like to thank Professor John Miller for his encouragement and for the suggestions he made to help me improve it. Kevin Jefferson, Caroline Stark, Alan Vollmann, and David White discussed various aspects of the project with me. I would like to acknowledge my appreciation to them for their generosity sharing their enthusiasm and knowledge of the subject. I take full responsibility for any and all errors in the final product. Finally, all participants in the seminar received a copy of Emily Wilson’s new translation of the Odyssey3 . Reading the story through her lens was most engaging and enjoyable. I also recommend the glossary of names which I consulted to create the vocabulary lists.
(1) TOPOS TEXT, Hyginus, Fabulae from The Myths of Hyginus, translated and edited by Mary Grant, University of Kansas Publications in Humanistic Studies, no. 34. https://topostext.org/work/206
(2) The Latin Library, https://www.thelatinlibrary.com/hyginus/hyginus5.shtml#odyssea
(3) Wilson, Emily, The Odyssey Homer, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., New York, 2018.
(We are experiencing some technical issues with the recording - will resolve soon...)