Benjamin Nagy (University of Adelaide)

WOOOOSH! Analysing Latin Poetry with Computers

In 1989, Reeve wrote that “when one has read 5000 lines of Silius and goes on to read another 6000, the Ovidian fluency of [a certain passage] stands out”.[1] That’s cool, but what _exactly_ is ‘Ovidian fluency’? Can we measure it? In this presentation we’ll try to find out.  Using ‘computational stylometry’, it is possible to objectively measure many aspects of poetic ‘style’. We will explore a variety of approaches to quantifying authorial style in terms of metre, language (lexicon and grammar), literary allusion and phonology (euphony or rhyme). These emerging methods can help to decide authorship questions, examine how authors influence each other, or simply help us to better understand the poets’ techniques.

[1] M.D. Reeve, ‘A New Edition of Silius Italicus – Josef Delz: Silius Italicus, Punica. (Bibl. Teubneriana.) Pp. lxxviii + 528. Stuttgart: Teubner, 1987. DM 168.’, Class. Rev., 39 (October 1989), 215–218.

Zoom discussion (open from 1pm 2nd October):