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Seminar Latin: Latin Literature of Exile from Ovid to Joachim Du Bellay


Admission requirements

This course is open to MA and research MA students in Classics and Ancient Civilisations (specialisation Classics).

The course will be taught in Dutch or English, depending on the first language of participating students.


Ovid’s later elegiac collections, the Tristia and Epistulae ex Ponto, came into being during his exile from Rome to Tomi, a small town at the shore of the Black Sea, from ca. 8 to 17 AD. In these collections Ovid writes to his wife, friends, patrons and even emperor Augustus himself about his life in exile and longing for home, often pleading for help to speed up his return or relieve his punishment. These collections have stimulated a broadening of the elegiac genre as it was practiced thus far. Moreover, they have inspired many later (Neo-)Latin poets who travelled throughout Europe to express longing for their homeland and descriptions of their new whereabouts in elegies as well.

Already in late Antiquity the theme of Ovid’s exile poetry was taken up by Boethius, who started his De consolatione philosophiae in elegiac distichs when discussing his exile. He, in his turn, influenced the medieval poet Hildebert de Lavardin to write about his exile in elegiacs as well (De exilio). Among later humanist poets several treated the theme of exile in their elegies, whether or not they were actually exiled, or felt a kind of longing for their native country. Among them we find Michele Marullo, the Byzantine Greek who fled from Constantinople to Italy, as well as Joachim Du Bellay, who in his elegy Patriae desiderium compared his period in Rome to an exile.

In this course we will first make ourselves familiar with the literary form and themes of Ovid’s exile poetry, and then analyze how these were used and appropriated in later Latin literature about exile. We will ask ourselves which literary, historical or social parameters determine how Ovid’s exile poetry is (re-)used and what this teaches us about the way Ovid was read and interpreted in Late Antiquity, the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.

Course objectives

  • You will become familiar with (Neo-) Latin literature about exile from Antiquity to the Renaissance and with the relevant developments within this literature;

  • You will practise reading and analysing (Neo-)Latin literature from different critical angles;

  • You will become familiar with recent interdisciplinary scholarship (literary criticism; reception studies; sociology of literature) and will be trained to critically assess secondary literature in these fields;

  • You will be trained to formulate original research questions, and to answer these in an oral presentation and in a written essay.


See timetables Classics and Ancient Civilizations

Mode of instruction

Seminar (a combination of lectures, seminars and individual study of source materials)

Assessment method

  • Oral presentation, with full handout (20%)

  • Written paper (70%) Notice that ResMA students are required to present original research in this seminar.

  • Active participation in the discussion (10%)

When this class is taken for 5 EC, no final paper will be required. Instead, students write a very concise essay based on their oral presentation and the discussion afterwards. The final grade will then consist of:

  • Oral presentation, with full handout (40%)

  • Essay (40%)

  • Active participation in the discussion (20%)


In this course we make use of Blackboard.

Reading list

Most primary and secondary literature will be made available through the University Library, but each student should have a Latin text of Ovid’s Tristia & Epistulae ex Ponto.

Some secondary literature:

  • Gaertner, J.F., Writing Exile. The Discourse of Displacement in Greco-Roman Antiquity and Beyond (Leiden: Brill, 2007)

  • Tucker, G.H., Homo viator. Itineraries of Exile, Displacement and Writing in Renaissance Europe (Geneva: Droz, 2003)

  • Williams, G.D., Banished Voices. Readings in Ovid’s Exile Poetry (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1994)


Via uSis

Contact information

Mw. Dr. S.T.M. de Beer