What is the course about?
This eleven-week course examines some of the texts of Roman literature which are central to Western culture and thought. It explores their structure, key themes, and context; their wider influence; and their perennial fascination.
What will we cover?
Week 1 – Introduction: History of Roman literature in a nutshell
Weeks 2-3 – Cicero, In Defence of Caelius: ‘The best advocate of all’
Weeks 4-5 – Lucretius: Poetry and philosophy in The Nature of the Universe
Weeks 6-7 – Horace, Art of Poetry: Criticism and the purpose of literature
Weeks 8-9 – Ovid, Metamorphoses: Textbook for Western art
Weeks 10-11 – Tacitus, Annals: History ‘without passion or bias’?
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
• Have a grasp of the key themes in the texts studied.
- Have a grasp of the genres of ancient epic, forensic oratory, didactic poetry, and history.
- Understand the historical context in which the texts were composed.
- Appreciate the texts’ importance for later Western culture and thought.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
Introductory: no previous subject knowledge necessary. Fluency in English is necessary.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
You will be taught by weekly seminars. There will be regular reading assignments for homework.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
You will need to bring writing and note-taking materials. You will also need to buy, borrow or download copies of the five texts we will be reading (other resources will be provided on handouts and/or electronically). Recommended editions:
- Cicero, Defence Speeches, Oxford World’s Classics, transl. D. H. Berry
- Lucretius, On the Nature of the Universe, Penguin Classics, transl. R.E. Latham (1st published 1951)
- Horace, Satires and Epistles (with Persius, Satires), Penguin Classics, transl. Niall Rudd
- Ovid, Metamorphoses, Oxford World’s Classics, transl. A. D. Melville
- Tacitus, Annals, Penguin Classics, transl. Michael Grant.
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
Further courses in Latin and Greek literature; Latin language (beginners’).