Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Philip Thibodeau

Subject Categories

Classical Literature and Philology | Classics | Indo-European Linguistics and Philology


Bacchus, Commentary, Dionysus, Metamorphoses, Ovid, Pentheus


Born out of my years of using traditional commentaries for Latin and Greek texts, both for myself as a student learning the language anew and then as a teacher sharing my experience with others &mdash and still learning the language years later &mdash this in&ndashdepth guide to Ovid's version of the story of Pentheus I have conceived as a reimagining of the genre, at once a vehicle designed to allow students to navigate their own ways through the literature and also a tool for building their analytical skills to apply liberally, earnestly, and enthusiastically to other Latin and Greek texts, and really to any piece of writing, art, or other form of expression.

Here in Vol. 1, my own exploration of the text brought me to notice a striking parallel between Pentheus' speech to the Thebans that dominates the first seventy&ndashodd lines of Ovid's telling of the myth and the guidelines to oration in general put forth by the Rhetorica ad Herrenium, a text that predates the Metamorphoses by enough time for Ovid to have read it and to have been influenced by its handy approach. I share the details of that observation later in the book, so as to allow other readers to engage with the text on their own first.

Additionally, years of reading, rereading, writing about and discussing with others Ovid's beleaguered main character have allowed me to form a relationship with the mythical Pentheus, and so in this volume and in the two to come, I invite my readers to empathize with him, to understand his anger, and to allow him the space to be upset at the arrival of Bacchus at Thebes. In this way, when we can join him in his experience, his lamentable fate truly can become a tragedy.