It's Mr. Jefferson, and I'd love to give you a little taste of my Latin Academy class. We'll be talking about copying, stealing, reusing, repurposing - what is plagiarism, and what is originality? Is it possible to reuse someone else's work without just feeling derivative?
There's a famous line from Picasso, "good artists copy, great artists steal." (There's plenty of other versions of this quote from other people, like Igor Stravinsky and Steve Jobs. So make of that what you will...) The idea is that if you make a weak imitation of something, people will always think of how the original was better. But if you steal it, make it "your own" (while still reminding people about the original), you can create truly great art.
This is one of the inherent questions of "intertextuality" and "models." Through my class, I hope that you'll have a chance to explore the idea of intertextual allusions and literary analysis.
We'll start by reading an episode one of the earliest epic poems in existence - Homer's Iliad. Set towards the end of the Trojan War, it's a war story. Patroclus kills Sarpedon, Hector kills Patroclus, and Achilles kills Hector because of Patroclus' death. Then we'll read an episode from the quintessential Roman epic poem, Vergil's Aeneid. Set during Aeneas' attempt to settle a new city, it's another war story. Pallas kills Italians, Turnus kills Pallas, and Aeneas kills Turnus because of Pallas's death.
Vergil is using a well-known storyline from the Iliad (and Sarpedon's name even gets mentioned!), so is Vergil just copying Homer? Why would he want to use a Homeric storyline? What is Vergil trying to accomplish by making us think about Homer?
Like Mr. Gallagher, one of the things that originally drew me to Classics was reading mythology. But as I read more, I learned that mythology really is literature - authors would write stories, and put their own spin on the myth. So on Wednesday, we'll read some mythology together and talk about why Vergil wrote his story the way that he did.
Get ready to dive into some authors of mythology! I look forward to working with you all this week!
-- Mr. Jefferson
This blog will document the MMXX virtual session of the Virginia Governor's Latin Academy.