The classical community reflects
It has been a whirlwind few days at Antigone, ever since we were first contacted about the discovery of an apparently ancient text, a copy of which has been put up for sale on a public site. Although we approached the claim with weary scepticism, the more we scrutinised the evidence, the more excited we became. We believe that we are now able to report on the first discovery of a poem by Ovid (43 BC – AD 18) for more than six hundred years.
In order to keep our readers up to speed with the fast-evolving story, we have brought together on the site several experts on Latin poetry, Roman antiquity, and its survival into the modern world. While it is still too early for anyone, however fancy their titles, to answer the most pressing questions posed by this fragment authoritatively, we hope that the material gathered here will help orientate readers who come to the so-called “New Naso” with wide-eyed curiosity.
Although we are not the first to report on this week’s remarkable news, we at Antigone are the first to give scholars a platform to formulate their initial responses to this provocative text. Throughout our eight essays we will use the term “New Naso” as a convenient shorthand for the poem in question, whose attribution to Ovid seems certain, at least at the time of writing. That said, we do not wish to close the conversation to those who believe that the fragment’s discovery is either not so new, or not, in fact, so Ovidian. Please do get in touch if you think you can contribute on these points: we will publish any argument that can advance the conversation.
While much of our discussion here is naturally focused on the consequences that this discovery brings for the academic community, we nevertheless hope that some of the excitement of this event will be felt by all our readers. If you are entirely new to the world of Ovid, please read this explainer about why this discovery matters so much.
To read the New Naso in the Latin text, alongside a precisely parallel verse translation by the “Skylark of Oxford”, Armand D’Angour, please click below:
A makeshift critical apparatus has been rapidly knocked together to help us take our first steps across this brave new literary threshold:
To contextualise the unusual origins of the fragment, you will be advised to consult the brief critical introduction, now available in Latin and English. The manuscript itself, the so-called Apographon Randolphi, can be inspected at leisure here (by kind permission of the present owner).
Once you have got a good sense of this remarkable new fragment, why not explore what its discovery means for some experts in the field? To learn more about how the “New Naso” has already changed the lives of professional classicists irrevocably, please work your way strenuously through the smorgasbord of scholarship below:
Covering our backs
If you are still hungry for more information, you may wish (as we did) to investigate the back of the Apographon Randolphi. It appears to convey a curious hybrid of entry-level physics and rowdy folksong. We commissioned the leader of our ad-hoc Cultural Rhythms Recovery Team, Eleanor Medcalf (Classicist and Musicomane), to see whether revivifying the verse on this overlooked verso could help somehow resurrect the spirit of Ovid. Although it is far too early to draw firm conclusions, the song does seem somehow to stir the hearts of Latinists who hail from the Elland Road and Old Trafford quarters:
The artwork at the top of all of our New Naso articles is by the wonderful Lara Cosmetatos, Classicist and all things beside.