The phrase “o pietas animi” comes from the Latin epic, the Annals, composed by Quintus Ennius in the 2nd c. BCE. This monumental poem, originally 15 books but later expanded to 18, covered the history of Rome from the fall of Troy to the early 2nd c. BCE. In the first book of this epic, the spirit of Homer appears to Ennius in a dream and speaks the words “o pietas animi” (o piety of mind) to the poet. Today, Ennius’ Annals exists in a fragmentary condition. We have only around 400 secure verses of the poem, snippets which have been preserved because later writers decided to quote from Ennius in their own works. We owe our ability to read the three words “o pietas animi” to Cicero, who quoted them in his Academica. As it happens, we owe a lot to Cicero – orator, statesman, and intellectual of 1st c. BCE Rome. Aside from the works of the comic playwrights Plautus and Terence, Latin literature from the 2nd c. BCE is known to us only because writers like Cicero decided to describe, paraphrase, and quote from these works. Of the ancient Roman authors who quote from earlier texts, Cicero is by far the most prolific, and he uses these citations in diverse and interesting ways.
In my research, I study Cicero’s quotations of Latin verse. My broader interests are Roman intellectual life, book culture, fragments, citationality. In this blog, I chat casually about incidental aspects of my scholarly work, as well as trends in the field of Classics. I’m a big believer that academics should be a part of the project that is the internet – to get a sense of my vision of how this might work, read my blog posts: Twitter for Classicists, my account of the annual meeting of the Society for Classical Studies for 2017 and 2016, and my review of sociologist Mark Carrigan’s Social Media for Academics (2016). Hamish Cameron and I have a how-to guide for live-tweeting academic conferences on the SCS blog. I also run the Classics and Social Justice blog and twitter. Originally from Glasgow, Scotland, I received my BA in Literae Humaniores from Oxford University (2011), and my PhD from the University of Southern California (2017). In Fall 2017, I joined the Classics department at Boston University.