Of Bugs and Gods

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A faculty tipster informed a Bwog staffer that the new book for the second semester of Lit Hum is going to be Ovid’s Metamorphoses. (Ovid is not going to be taking the place of anything else, it’s just an addition.) 

“They were also thinking about adding Kafka for irony’s sake but ended up not doing it,” explains the in-the-know Bwog staffer. Because nothing screams “irony for irony’s sake” like two books that have little to do with each other but happen to be homophonic.

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  1. Anonymous  

    Those two books are not as dissimilar in their subject matter as bwog seems to imagine. Either way, welcome home Publius Ovidius Naso.

    • again  

      They're pretty dissimilar.

      • Anonymous  

        Really? So I guess Ovid is all about fitting in with society and getting along with it.

        I hope I didn't violate your post-modern Ennui too badly with my gauche statement expressing the possibility that two great works of literature could be vaguely similar even if they don't immediately appear to be. Please continue making nearly complete sentences expressing your genius to the internets.

        • meh  

          Hey! Pluralizing the internets is MY THING! Also - can we add a BWOG's "Most Pompous Comments"? This post is full of em.

        • Classicist again  

          Post-modern ennui? What? I just pointed out the fact that Kafka's "The Metamorphosis" and Ovid's "Book of Metamorphoses" are actually not all that similar, in either form or content. While a shortened, sweetened version of Kafka's work might not feel too strange in Ovid's work, that isn't to say they are comparable in any useful way. No need to FREAK OUT, man. Also, "They are pretty dissimilar" is a perfectly complete English sentence.

  2. i've been  

    saying they should do this for years (ovid, not kafka). glad somebody listened.

    it is also a shame that we don't read any milton or joyce in the core. dostoevsky but not joyce? baccacio but not milton?

    • Anonymous  

      Ovid was on the reading list as recently as 2001, if I recall correctly.

      Seidel used to throw in Milton. Then all you need is Spenser and Beowulf and you'd have all the English epics you'd ever want. Oh, and Pope, can't forget the mock epic.

      Sorry, I guess you can't fit everything in. Independent study an epics class if that's what you want.

  3. mother-frakkin'  

    TWAIN! Why are there no Americans on the syllabus?

  4. glad

    you people don't design the syllabus, or lit hum would be english. it's western literature, not anglo-american. now bring back goethe.

    • okay  

      you're right; Goethe is awesome. I think they should combine sections from both Augustine readings (Confessions and City of God) into CC. then we'd have room for one more book in lit hum.

      Also, I feel like we all read the Odyssey in high school. Maybe your lit hum classes were better than mine, but I didn't get much more out of it in lit hum than I did in high school.

      Maybe I was wrong about Chaucer. But we should have Beowulf or Song of Roland or El Cid or some epic poem...

  5. EAL  

    Replace Woolf with Joyce! But we all know why they would never do that.

    • Classicist  

      We all know why? You mean because Joyce's literature couldn't possibly be handled/discussed in a single week, right? Or were you insinuating that Woolf is only on the syllabus because she's a woman?

      Also, the Metamorphoses are great...in Latin. In English I don't really see a reason to include it.

  6. Thanks EAL  

    I thought the comment thread had gone on for too long without some haughty snark.

    But, you came and you gave without takin'

  7. no i agree

    woolf needs to be replaced with something more enjoyable

  8. frosh  

    Epic of Gilgamesh was also added I beleive

  9. wait

    imagine a room of first year students discussing Joyce. that's asking for disaster.

  10. hmm

    take out pride and prejudice(I say this as someone who loves Jane Austen)....seriously, it's just pretty out of place.

    • agreed!  

      i love austen as well, but pride and prejudice doesn't make a significant thematic contribution to the course. after all, lit hum is usually taught with a thematic emphasis, since most people can't or don't want to discuss the particulars of literary style and aesthetics.

  11. Classicist #2  

    The Metamorphoses was the most popular work in medieval England. It's a travesty that the Aeneid was the only Latin included in the course, but I think that we could stand to include a Roman Latin text in CC, besides just the Marcus Aurelius- Stoicism is associated with Hellenistic Greece anyway. If we are reading something Stoic, why not Seneca?

    Cicero would be a good option, to add to CC.

  12. how about

    Ayn Rand, anybody? Reading Atlas Shrugged in CC would be amazing.

  13. atlas shrugged?

    why don't we just read the fucking da vinci code?

    i may just have to read Ovid this summer - i feel gypped.

  14. already read  

    Hmm, well at least I read it in Latin so I don't feel like I missed anything.

  15. Classicist #2  


    The Metamorphoses and the Metamorphosis are actually exactly the same. The characters in the former are transformed into trees/animals/etc (it is noteworthy that not all stories include a metamorphosis!). at the whim of the gods, sometimes for no particular reason- many transformations are totally arbitrary punishments. They are at the mercy of stronger forces and have no power to exercise agency over their fate.

    This lack of control over fate, and especially the random overturning of identities, is very pertinent to existentialism.

    • Anonymous  

      Thank you, non moron.

    • Actually

      the more accurate comparison of Kafka would be to Faust. Gregor Samsa makes a deal with the devil—he is not at the whim of the gods. He actively secures his own fate by shouting "Devil take it all!" in the first scene of the novella.

    • Classicist again  

      Not all stories include metamorphoses, as you point out, but neither are all the metamorphoses at the whim of the gods. My point was that the respective purposes of each work are dissimilar. While each work deals with the subject of metamorphosis, the treatments are so different that the books don't actually have that much in common. Scholarly comparisons can be and have been made but, as the writer of this post notes, the books really do have little to do with each other. The commenter "Anonymous" disagrees respectfully, of course, but s/he would do well to make arguments instead of thesaurus-driven and snark-laced comments. But I suppose it wouldn't be a true bwog comment without the latter.

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