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Quis est Corinna?

By now, you have probably seen the name "Corinna" pop up in your sentences. Though there is a famous Greek poet that takes that name, the subject of Ovid's collection of poetry, the Amores is perhaps the most famous Corinna of Latin literature. This work is the fictitious account of the poet's affairs with a high-class married woman named Corinna. It is considered to be one of the most infamous examples of Latin Elegy, of genre of love poetry focused on adulterous affairs with married women. She is first named in lines 9-10 of poem I.5, when Ovid states:

ecce, Corinna venit, tunica velata recincta, candida dividua colla tegente coma,

Or in English,

Behold! Here comes Corinna, covered in an unbelted tunic, Her parted hair covering her fair neck,

Classicists are unsure of the true identity of Corinna, or if she even existed at all. All known poems of this genre use a pseudonym for the poems' subject. Despite the elicit subject of these poems, many of the acts described were actually illegal at the time of writing, with the act of adultery punishable by death. Ovid was later even exiled from Rome, though due to another collection of poetry he wrote, the Ars Amatoria, a manual on the seduction of women.

August 30, 2019



Thank you fot these excellent notes. Very interesting.


A friend of mine taught Latin in Garden City KS, Ovid was something he sometimes let 4th year students read, I doubt the school administrators knew much about the content. My Latin teacher had dropped out of a seminary and was pretty straight-laced, even for the early 60's.


Molto interessante, grazie per l'informazione!


Corinna is also the name of a female Greek poet, of whom only a few fragments survive.


Very cool. I’ve begun the Latin course, and enjoy the little nuggets that pop up in the discussions (fora?). Please keep them coming.


Is this course based on old archaic vocabulary, or are we going to learn some modern made vocabulary for latin? Is it possible to converse in latin in modern day circumstances?


The course per now teaches mostly Classical vocabulary. Some of this is archaic in meaning and not applicable today, since it has to do with Roman religion, social structure, etc.

It is perfectly possible to converse in Latin about modern topics. There have been invented Latin words for most modern appliances and terms, and many of the English words for those are from Latin anyway (computer, application, aeroplane, tractor, office, etc. etc.). Hopefully the course will at some time add lessons on modern vocab as well.


It seems to be a hybrid. Or at least: some of the words which are classical ("studeo", "familia"), are used in a sense they don't have in classical texts ("study", "family").


I believe there is a list of Latin words for modern objects somewhere on the Vatican website.


There is a discussion of the Vatican list on Reddit.

Here are some snippets:

overdose: immódica medicamenti stupefactīvi iniéctio

safari: Africana venatio

snack bar: thermopólium potórium et gustatórium

smog: fumus et nébula

best seller: liber máxime divénditus

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