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Roman Literature and Thought

. The module aims to provide postgraduate training in the literary interpretation and philological analysis of classical Latin texts in a variety of forms and genres. It runs as 10 two-hours seminars spaced over the first and second terms of the course, and will involve developing, applying and putting into practice the techniques and methodologies studied in the first term’s core module, ‘Approaching Ancient Texts’. Students’ linguistic skills in reading literary Latin will be brought up to postgraduate level; they will be introduced to the fundamentals of textual criticism, and acquire the knowledge and skills required to respond critically to the most advanced classical scholarship. The module takes the form of a weekly seminar, in which we focus on the detailed reading, discussion and interpretation of two main texts or sections of classical Latin texts, one in verse and one in prose, alongside an anthology of further related texts, commentaries and reference works. Latin texts are chosen on a yearly basis in response to current critical debates and the most recent and original scholarship. Each session will be devoted to a section of text (students will be asked to prepare in advance by reading the text together with selected scholarship) and take the form of in-depth critical discussion following prepared oral presentations. Students will be able to significantly enhance the knowledge and skills acquired at undergraduate level, exchanging and developing ideas and reading strategies in a supportive and stimulating environment. Assessment consists of a final 5,000-word essay, topics for which we will discuss at the end of term 1. Students can expect to be doing 9-10 hours work for each seminar.

Please note: in 2020-21 we will meet in even-numbered weeks (i.e. 2, 4, 6, 8, 10) across both terms 1 and 2.

Time and place: Mondays, 12-2pm, H0.03 (ground floor of Humanities building)

By the end of this module students should expect to have:

  • acquired the ability to read classical literary Latin fluently and independently, in a range of genres and forms;
  • developed the ability to employ a variety of strategies and techniques of interpretation and philological analysis in their close reading of classical texts;
  • acquired the knowledge and skills required to respond critically to the most advanced classical scholarship;
  • developed into autonomous researchers with the skills and expertise required to produce professionally laid-out papers, develop extended scholarly arguments, and to give confident, well-organised and fluent presentations.

Assessment deadline for title approval: March 8th, 2021

Assessment submission deadline: May 3rd, 2021, 12 noon

Syllabus for 2020-21:

Text 1 (Term 1): Horace Satires book I

Commentary: Emily Gowers, Horace Satires Book I. Cambridge 2012.

[note that we will focus on specific satires in the seminars but the set text is the whole of Book 1]

Text 2 (Term 2): Seneca Letters 1, 7, 12, 18, 21, 33, 47.

Commentary: Catharine Edwards, Seneca Selected Letters. Cambridge 2019.

Texts to read in translation: Horace Satires II, Epodes, Odes, Epistles, Ars Poetica; Lucilius Satires (poems and fragments in Remains of Old Latin, trans. Warmington, in the Loeb Classical Library); Seneca Letters, Apocolocyntosis and Dialogues. The Loeb editions are recommended and are available online in Warwick Library databases for Classics.

 For each seminar: poems/letters to read in Latin in advance of each session are indicated below, as is recommended bibliography. Please read the texts alongside the commentaries (Gowers/Edwards). You are not obliged to read every single item of bibliography, but do as much as you can. If there is anything you cannot find, let us know and we will be able to help. For each week, we will ask you to prepare a 5-10-minute critical summary of the set poem/letter (c.1000 words if you are writing it out), which each student will present orally at the start of the seminar. In this critical summary, you should attempt to give a tight, detailed account of content and form and to highlight what you consider to be key points of interest or difficulties of interpretation; you may, in doing this, also want to show awareness of, or mention, relevant scholarship, but are not expected to give a review of the literature. In the seminar itself, we will address difficulties in grammar and syntax, points of interpretation, textual issues as they arise, and nuances in/differences between various scholarly approaches to Horace.


Introductory bibliography for Horace [please try to read some of these items over summer 2020, starting with the asterixed items if possible]:

Braund, S. and Gold. B. (eds.) (1998) Vile Bodies: Roman Satire and Corporeal Discourse. Arethusa 31 special issue.

Davis, G. (ed.) (2010) A Companion to Horace. Malden, MA.

Henderson, John. (1999) Writing down Rome: satire, comedy, and other offences in Latin poetry. Oxford.

*Freudenburg, K. (1993) The Walking Muse: Horace on the theory of satire. Princeton, NJ.

*Freudenburg, K. (2001) Satires of Rome: Threatening Poses from Lucilius to Juvenal. Cambridge.

*Freudenburg, K. (ed.) (2005) The Cambridge Companion to Roman Satire. Cambridge.

*Freudenburg, K. (ed.) (2009) Horace: Satires and Epistles. Oxford.

Gowers, E. (1993) The Loaded Table: Representations of Food in Roman Literature. Oxford. (*126-79 on Horace)

Gowers (2003) ‘Fragments of autobiography in Horace Satires 1’ Classical Antiquity 22.1: 55–91.

*Gowers, E. (2012), introduction to commentary (see above).

*Hooley, Daniel M. (2007) Roman Satire. Malden. MA.

Keane, Catherine (2006) Figuring Genre in Roman Satire. Oxford.

*Muecke, F. (2007) ‘The Satires’ in S. Harrison (ed.) The Cambridge Companion to Horace. Cambridge, 105-120.

Oliensis, E. (1998) Horace and the Rhetoric of Authority. Cambridge.

Richlin, A. (1992) The Garden of Priapus: Sexuality and Aggression in Roman Humor. New York and Oxford.

Ruffell, I. A. (2003) ‘Beyond satire: Horace popular invective and the segregation of literature.’ Journal of Roman Studies 93: 35–65.

*Schlegel, Catherine (2005) Satire and the Threat of Speech: Horace “Satires,” Book I. Madison WI.

*Tarrant, Richard (2016) ‘A new critical edition of Horace’. In Latin Literature and its Transmission: Papers in honour of Michael Reeve. R. Hunter and S. P. Oakley (eds.) Cambridge, 291–338.

Zetzel, James E. G (1980) ‘Horace’s Liber Sermonum: The structure of ambiguity.’ Arethusa 13:59–77.


Seminar 1: Satires 1.1 (Monday October 12th, 12-2pm, i.e. Monday of WEEK 2). Prof. Victoria Rimell

For this week, we will begin with an introductory discussion of Horace Satires I as a whole. Please do your best to prepare your first critical summary of Sat.1.1, addressing how Horace lays out a programme for the book. Be sure to bring Gowers’ commentary with you; if you need to bring a translation as a back-up, use the Loeb edition (Satires, Epistles, Ars Poetica).

Readings for this week:

Gowers commentary, +

Dufallo, B. (1999–2000) ‘Satis/satura: Reconsidering the “programmatic intent” of Horace’s Satires 1.1.’ Classical World 93.6: 579–590.

Feeney, D. (2009) ‘Becoming an authority: Horace on his own reception.’ In L. B. T. Houghton and M. Wyke (eds.) Perceptions of Horace: A Roman poet and his readers. Cambridge, 16–38.

Gowers, E. (2009) ‘The ends of the beginning: Horace Satires 1.’ In Houghton and Wyke (see above), 39-60.

Schlegel, Catherine (2010) ‘Horace and the satirist’s mask: Shadowboxing with Lucilius’. In G. Davis (ed.) A Companion to Horace. Malden, MA, 253–270.


Seminar 2: Satires 1.2 and 1.4 (Monday October 26th, i.e. Week 4). Prof. Victoria Rimell

Readings for this week:

Gowers commentary, +

Curran, Leo C. (1970) ‘Nature, convention, and obscenity in Horace Satires 1.2.’ Arion 9.2/3: 220–245.

Gibson, Roy K. (2007) Excess and restraint: Propertius, Horace and Ovid’s “Ars Amatoria.” BICS Supplement. London, 19-42.

Gowers, E. (2009) ‘Eupolitics: Horace Sermones I, 4.’ In F. Felgentreu, F. Mundt, and N. Rücker (eds.) Per attentam Caesaris aurem: Satire – die unpolitische Gattung? Eine internationale Tagung an der Freinen Universität Berlin vom 7. bis 8. März 2008. Tübingen, 85–98.

Hooley, D. (1999) ‘Horace’s Rud(e)-imentary Muse: Sat.1.2.Electronic Antiquity 5.2.

Leach, E. W. (1971) ‘Horace’s pater optimus and Terence’s Demea: Autobiographical fiction and comedy in Sermo I, 4.’ American Journal of Philology 92:616–632.

Schlegel, Catherine (2002) 'Horace’s Satires 1.2: Taste and translation.’ Classical and Modern Literature 22.2: 57–83.

Yona, Sergio (2015) ‘Some Epicurean aspects of Horace’s upbringing in Satires 1.4' Classical Philology 110.3: 227–251.


Seminar 3: Satires 1.5 and 1.8 (Monday November 9th, week 6). Dr Elena Giusti

Readings for this week:

Gowers commentary, +

Gowers, E. (1993) ‘Horace Satires 1.5: An Inconsequential Journey.’ Proceedings of the Cambridge Philological Society 39: 48–66.

Oliensis, E. (1998) Horace and the Rhetoric of Authority. Cambridge. Ch.1

Reckford, Kenneth J. (1999) ‘Only a wet dream? Hope and skepticism in Horace Satires 1.5’ American Journal of Philology 120.4: 525–554.

Uden, James (2007) ‘Impersonating Priapus’ American Journal of Philology 128.1: 1–26.


Seminar 4: Satires 1.9 and 1.10 (Monday November 23rd, week 8). Dr Elena Giusti

Readings for this week:

Gowers commentary, +

Courtney, E. (1994) 'Horace and the pest' Classical Journal 90: 1-8.

Henderson, J. (1999) Writing down Rome. Oxford, 202-27.

McNeill, Randall L. B (2001) Horace: Image, Identity and Audience. Baltimore (see esp. on Sat.1.10)

Scodel, Ruth (1987) ‘Horace, Lucilius, and Callimachean polemic.’ Harvard Studies in Classical Philology 91:199–215.

Welch, Tara Silvestri (2001) “Est locus uni cuique suus”: City and status in Horace Satires 1.8 and 1.9.’ Classical Antiquity 20.1: 165–192.

Zetzel, James E. G. (2002) ‘Dreaming about Quirinus: Horace’s Satires and the development of Augustan poetry’ In T. Woodman and D. Feeney (eds.) Traditions and contexts in the Poetry of Horace. Cambridge, 38–52.


Seminar 5: open seminar to discuss text as a whole and coursework (Monday December 7th, week 10)


Introductory bibliography for Seneca’s Letters

[Please read at least asterisked items during the break between terms]

Further texts and commentaries that might be useful (alongside Edwards 2019)

Fantham, Elaine (2010) Seneca: Selected Letters. Oxford.

Inwood, Brad (2007) Seneca: Selected Philosophical Letters: Translation with an Introduction and Commentary. Oxford (presents and explains more difficult letters from the later part of the collection that address philosophical issues more directly and technically. Contains Letters 58, 65, 66, 71, 76, 85, 87, 106, 113, and one complete book: 117–124),

Reynolds, Leighton D. (1965) L. Annaei Senecae Ad Lucilium epistulae morales. 2 vols. Oxford (OCT).

Richardson-Hay, C. (2006) First Lessons: Book 1 of Seneca’s Epistulae Morales. A Commentary. Bern.


On Neronian Rome

Bartsch, S. (1994) Actors in the Audience. Theatricality and Doublespeak from Nero to Hadrian. Cambridge, MA.

Bartsch, S., Freudenburg, K. and Littlewood, C. (eds.) (2017) The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Nero. Cambridge.

Elsner, J. and Masters, J. (eds.) (1994) Reflections of Nero. London.

Rudich, V. (1997) Dissidence and Literature under Nero. London.


More general or fundamental scholarship on Stoicism/ Seneca philosophus /ancient epistles/ epistolarity

*Altman, J. G. (1982) Epistolarity: Approaches to a Form. Columbus, Ohio.

Beagon, M. (2005) ‘Mors repetina and the Roman art of dying’ Syllecta Classica 16: 85-137.

Boys-Stones, G. R. (2001) Post-Hellenistic Philosophy: A Study of its Development from the Stoics to Origen. Oxford.

Davidson, Arnold I. (2005) ‘Ethics as Ascetics: Foucault, the History of Ethics, and Ancient Thought.’ In G. Gutting (ed.) The Cambridge Companion to Foucault. 2d ed., Cambridge, 123–148.

Dressler, A. (2012) ‘ “You must change your life”: theory and practice, metaphor and exemplum in Seneca’s prose’ Helios 39: 145-92.

*Ebbeler, J. (2010) ‘Letters’. In A. Barchiesi and W. Scheidel (eds.) Oxford Companion to Roman Studies, Oxford.

*Edwards, Catharine (2006) ‘Epistolography’. In S. Harrison (ed.) A Companion to Latin Literature. Malden, MA, 270–283.

Garani, M, Michalopoulos, A.N. and Papaioannou, S. (eds.) (2020) Intertextuality in Seneca’s Philosophical Writings. London and New York.

Gibson, Roy (2012) ‘On the Nature of Ancient Letter Collections.’ JRS 102: 56–78.

Griffin, Miriam T. (1992) Seneca:  A Philosopher in Politics. 2d ed. Oxford.

Gunderson, E. (2015) The Sublime Seneca: ethics, literature, metaphysics. Cambridge.

*Habinek, T. (1992) “An Aristocracy of Virtue: Seneca on the Beginnings of Wisdom,” Yale Classical Studies 29: 187–203.

_______ (2000) ‘Seneca’s renown: Gloria, claritudo and the replication of the Roman elite’ Classical Antiquity 19: 264-303.

Inwood, B. (ed.) (2003) The Cambridge Companion to the Stoics. Cambridge.

______ (2005) Reading Seneca: Stoic Philosophy at Rome. Oxford.

Morello, R., and Morrison, A.D. (eds.) (2007) Ancient Letters: Classical and Late Antique Epistolography. Oxford.

*Nussbaum, Martha C. (1994) The Therapy of Desire: Theory and Practice in Hellenistic Ethics. Princeton, NJ.

Reydams-Schils, Gretchen (2005) The Roman Stoics: Self, Responsibility, and Affection. Chicago.

Star, C. (2012) The Empire of the Self: self-command and political speech in Seneca and Petronius. Baltimore.

Stöckinger, M., Winter, K., and Zanker, A. (eds.) (2017) Horace and Seneca: interactions, intertexts, interpretations. Berlin.

Trapp, M. (2007) Philosophy in the Roman Empire: ethics, politics and society. Farnham.

Williams, G. and Volk, K. (eds.) (2016) Roman Reflections: studies in Latin philosophy. Oxford.


On the Letters

*Bartsch, Shadi, and David Wray (eds.) (2009) Seneca and the Self. Cambridge.

*Bartsch, S. and Schiesaro, A. (eds.) (2015) The Cambridge Companion to Seneca.Cambridge.

Coleman, R. (1974_ ‘The artful moralist: a study in Seneca’s epistolary style’ CQ 24: 276-89.

Colish, Marcia L., and Wildberger, J. (eds.) (2014) Seneca Philosophus. Berlin and NY.

Damschen, Gregor, and Heil, Andreas (eds.) (2014) Brill’s Companion to Seneca: Philosopher and Dramatist. Boston and Leiden.

Del Giovane, B. (2017) ‘Dressing philosophy with sal niger: Horace’s role in Seneca’s approach to the diatribic tradition.’ In Stöckinger, Winter and Zanker (eds.) 27-52.

Edwards, Catharine (1997) ‘Self-Scrutiny and Self-Transcendence in Seneca’s Letters’ Greece & Rome 44: 23–38.

Edwards, Catharine (1999) ‘The suffering body: philosophy and pain in Seneca’s Letters’. In J. Porter (ed.) Constructions of the Classical Body. Ann Arbor, 252-68.

______ (2018a) ‘Conversing with the absent, corresponding with the dead: friendship and philosophical community in Seneca’s Letters’. In Ceccarelli, Doering, Fogen and Fildenhard (eds.) Letters and Communities. Oxford, 325-51.

______ (2018b) ‘On not being in Rome: exile and displacement in Seneca’s prose’. In Fitzgerald and Spentzou (eds.) The Production of Space in Latin Literature. Oxford, 169-94.

Evenepoel, Willy (2006) ‘Seneca’s Letters on friendship: notes on the recent scholarlyliterature and observations on three quaestiones.’ L’Antiquité classique 75: 177–193.

Fitch, John G. (ed.) (2008) Seneca. Oxford.

Henderson, John (2004) Morals and Villas in Seneca’s Letters: places to dwell. Cambridge.

Inwood, Brad (2005) Reading Seneca: Stoic philosophy at Rome. Oxford.

Ker, James (2009) The Deaths of Seneca. Oxford.

Rimell. V. (2015) The Closure of Space in Roman Poetics. Empire’s inward turn. Cambridge.

Schafer, John (2011) ‘Seneca’s ‘Epistulae Morales’ as Dramatized Education.’ Classical Philology 106 (2011): 32–52.

Volk, K. and Williams, G. (eds.) (2006) Seeing Seneca Whole: perspectives on philosophy, poetry, and politics. Leiden.

Wilcox, Amanda (2012) The Gift of Correspondence in Classical Rome: friendship in Cicero’s Ad Familiares and Seneca’s Moral Epistles. Madison, WI.

Wilson, Marcus (1987) ‘Seneca’s Epistles to Lucilius: A Revaluation.’ Ramus 16: 102–121 (reprinted in Fitch 2008)

______ (1997) ‘The subjugation of grief in Seneca’s Epistles’ in S. Braund and C. Gill (eds.) The Passions in Roman Thought and Literature. Cambridge, 48-67.


Seminar 1: Seneca Letter 1 (Week 2)

Edwards commentary +

Henderson 2004: 6-27

Ker 2009: 155-61.

Long 2009 (in Bartsch and Wray 2009, 20-36).

Reydams-Schils (2005) 29-34 (on time)

Richardson-Hay ad loc.


Seminar 2: Letters 7 and 12 (Week 4)

Edwards commentary +

Coleman, K. (1990) ‘Fatal charades: Roman executions staged as mythological enactments’

JRS 80: 44-73.

Edwards, C. (2007) Death in Ancient Rome. London and New Haven. Ch.2

Gunderson, E. (1996) ‘The ideology of the arena’ Classical Antiquity 15: 113-51.

Habinek, T. (1982) ‘Seneca’s circles: Ep. 12.6-9’ Classical Antiquity 1: 66-9.

Henderson 2004: 1-17.

Ker 2009: 333-41

Parkin, T. (2003) Old Age in the Roman World: a cultural and social history. Baltimore.

Richardson-Hay ad loc.

Rimell 2015: 114-124.

Vogt-Spira, G. (2017) ‘Time in Horace and Seneca’ in Stöckinger, Winter and Zanker 2017: 185-209.


Seminar 3: Letters 18 and 21 (Dr Giovanna Laterza, week 6)

Edwards comm +

Edwards (2017) ‘Saturnalian exchanges: Seneca, Horace and satiric advice’ in Stöckinger,

Winter and Zanker 2017: 73-89.

Edwards (2017) ‘Seneca and the quest for glory in Nero’s golden age’ in Bartsch,

Freudenburg and Littlewood 2017: 164-76.

Habinek 2000

Wildberger, J. (2014) ‘The Epicurus trope and the construction of a “letter writer” in Seneca’s Epistulae Morales’ in Wildberger and Colish 2014: 431-65.


Seminar 4: Letters 33, 47 and final discussion (week 8)

Edwards comm +

Bradley, K. (1986) 'Seneca and slavery' C&M 37: 161-72 [= Fitch 2008: 335-47]

Edwards 2007 (see seminar 2): 75-7, 87-90, 100-110.

Edwards, C. (2009) 'Free yourself! Slavery, freedom and the self in Seneca's Letters' In Bartsch and Wray 2009: 139-59.

Fitzgerald, W. (2000) Slavery and the Roman Literary Imagination. Cambridge, esp. 88-92.

Ker 2009: 164-5.

Mayer, R. (1991) ‘Roman historical exempla in Seneca’ in P. Grimal (ed.) Sénèque et la prose latine. Geneva, 141-69.

Wilson, M. (2001) ‘Seneca’s Epistles reclassified’ in S. Harrison (ed.) Texts, Ideas and Classical Literature. Oxford, 164-88.

Seminar 5: open seminar to discuss text as a whole and coursework (week 10)

Module Convenors:

Professor Victoria Rimell

Dr Elena Giusti


This module is worth 30 CATS.