Latin Stories Videos Series: Pygmaliōn

Pygmaliōn is the second video in the series after Mīnōtaurus. I wasn’t familiar with this myth until reading* Ovid with last year’s students. They voted to read it before Daedelus & Icarus, Pyramus & Thisbe, or Orpheus & Eurydice. My personal contribution here is calling Pygmalion “creepy” (i.e. infestus), which was inspired by student comments. I begin retelling the myth after the point when Ovid gives us Pygmalion’s reason for living alone, which downright bothered my students. Misogyny is completely unacceptable, and at an age when image is a sensitive topic, students weren’t comfortable with what the Pygmalion (i.e. Ovid) had to say about the nature of women, as well as how he sculpted a figure “more beautiful than a woman possibly could be.” Go ahead and add that part if you welcome the discussion, which could easily be connected to contemporary advertising industry and its use of Photoshop, as well as the negative social affects, but I kept the story more focused. Here’s Ovid’s Pygmalion myth retold using 31 unique words. The story is 221 words total in length.

1) Class
2) Story (link to Google Doc text found in YouTube video description, but also here)
3) Questions

*I say “reading,” but I definitely wasn’t reading Ovid with ease. I was certainly interacting with the text, reading the notes to establish meaning, consulting the L & S when necessary, and analyzing it closely for themes. After doing all of that in order to create simplified tiered versions for students, I will say that I had a better understanding, yet, as I “read” the poem now, I’m not sure I’m even reading still! Instead, I’m remembering what I translated during the interaction. I think this is what most Classicists do—recall what they’ve already translated, or discussion (in English) in the past.

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4 thoughts on “Latin Stories Videos Series: Pygmaliōn

  1. Venus Pygmaliōn audīvit, sed statua iam erat statua—nōn fēmina.
    Mihi videtur melius esse ‘Pigmalionem’, nonne?
    Gratias propter videocapsellas et textus!

  2. I look forward to working through your version of Pygmalion with my students (and my students at both the high school and college levels enjoyed _Rufus et Arma Atra_), but I have to ask this question about one line: “students weren’t comfortable with what the Pygmalion (i.e. Ovid) had to say about the nature of women.”

    Is it fair to say that Pygmalion’s attitude toward women is Ovid’s own attitude?
    Is it fair to say that the narrator’s attitude is Ovid’s own attitude?

    Whatever the answer may be, you’ve brought up an important topic for discussion regarding the portrayal of women today. It’s a powerful way to connect the ancient myths to modern concerns.

    • Those are questions that makes a good thesis.

      This was all my students. They knew that at some point, Ovid wrote down the words. The rest is up to us to interpret, and I find all interpretations interesting. Possible heavy stuff for some of those teens, though, triggers and such.

      Glad to hear others recognize that Rūfus isn’t a children’s book. Breath of fresh air from some other content, no matter the age, right? I’m working on Teacher Materials right now. A major feature adds additional Expanded Readings (ExR) per chapter, increasing the input and adding complexity. Early estimates are that this resource will provide 3x-4x the total words of additional input!

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