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Set texts in translation

Terence The Eunuch

Cicero, On the Orator 2.216-90

Virgil, Eclogue 4

Ovid, The Art of Love, selected passages

Seneca Apocolocyntosis

Petronius, Satyricon 48-65

Seneca Letters, 56, 57

Martial Epigrams Book 1, and further selected epigrams

Juvenal, Satires 1 and 4

Quintilian, Handbook on Oratory 6.3

Pliny the Elder, Natural History, selected passages

Suetonius, Lives of the Caesars, selected passages

Set texts in Latin

• Terence, The Eunuch (with Barsby’s 1999 Green and Yellow)

• Virgil Eclogue 4 (with Mynors’ 1994 Oxford commentary)

• Seneca Apocolocyntosis (with Eden’s 1984 Green and Yellow)

• Seneca Letters 56 (with Costa’s 1988 17 Letters, Liverpool Classical Press).

Assessment for this module:

You are required to produce two pieces of coursework for the course, which will be assessed. Coursework will jointly contribute 50% of assessment; the remaining 50% of your work will be assessed by the two-hour examination in May/June 2021

Examination (50%)

Students reading set texts in Latin will be required to answer two questions from Section A of the paper and one question from Section C. Section A requires you to translate and comment on two passages of Latin from a selection of prepared texts. From Section C you choose one essay title from the range available. All other students will be required to comment on two passages in translation from Section B of the paper, and should answer two essay questions from Section C

Coursework (50%)

Term 1: 2250-2500 word essay (25%)

Term 2: 1800-2000 word essay (15%) plus 800-1000 word blog post (10%), submitted together, as one piece of coursework, for the same deadline. Students will be given a one-hour training session in blog post writing.

In each year, students taking the module with texts in Latin must write a practical criticism in place of the term 2 essay. See practical criticisms info below.

The assessed essays and blog posts must be word-processed and submitted electronically on Tabula. have proper bibliographic references, and be clearly and accurately expressed (correct spelling, good grammar, and well-structured sentences). The number of words used, as close as possible to the upper word limit specified above (for including footnotes, not including bibliography), should be given on the cover sheet. Note that anonymity of marking is an adopted principle of the University for both assessed coursework and examinations.

Practical criticisms (for those studying the module with texts in Latin)

Students studying this module with texts in Latin are required to offer a practical criticism, or close commentary on a passage, in lieu of the shorter term 2 essay (nb. you will still do the blog post in addition to the commentary). The questions and passages for term 2 are as follows (also see Coursework tab, and Moodle)

Make sure you read the guidelines below. Further, detailed advice will be given in the weekly text classes. Selected passages to choose from for the term 2 coursework practical criticism follow at the end of this page, and will also be included in your module booklet.

Some guidlelines:

A literary commentary (‘practical criticism’ or ‘prac crit’ or 'gobbet') should not be the same as writing a short essay. A commentary is largely concerned with the explication of a single passage of text; an essay is directed towards a different goal - making a more general argument or arguments on a set topic, using a wide range of primary and secondary evidence (although of course essays include the kind of close reading pursued in a commentary). Here is a short guide to what to focus on:

Getting started:

  • Identify the context (briefly but precisely), paying some attention to what follows as well as what precedes; if the passage is part of direct speech, identify the speaker;
  • briefly outline your coverage of major themes.Then, in the next two or three further paragraphs of detailed comment, you should:say what you feel should be said about the passage as a whole, broken down into two or three main themes. NB with any of what follows, it will be very useful to attempt to contextualize (or even politicize) more broadly one's observations. Try to work at least some broader cultural observations in to your close reading, as this will often distinguish excellent first-class work from good second-class material. Also, remember to analyse and evaluate, not simply describe.
  • Elements to mention in the introduction (and develop in the paragraphs that follow): explain how the passage fits into the overall themes of the work from which it comes. Do make reference to other relevant passages, but do this fairly briefly (remember, commentary, not essay!). Think about values, characterization, genre and literary form, ideology. If the text is a play, you might comment on general elements of stagecraft and scene-setting; in narrative works you might make reference to the passage's place in the plot and narrative development (is this a crucial or a pivotal point? does it look forward or back to other points?); in speeches and rhetorical works, you might analyse logical and rhetorical structure (argument, coherence); in historiography, you might comment on historical / mythological events and persons, elements of historiographical style including sentence structure, diction, imagery, and relation to / development of previous historiographical tropes if relevant.think about intertextuality / allusion - is there significant remodelling of earlier literature (e.g. Archilochus in Horace, Propertius in Ovid)? consider any relevant literary conventions which determine the overall character of a passage - e.g. hymn-style, catalogue, invective, supplication-scene, messenger-speech, priamel, panegyric, ekphrasis, locus amoenus , paraklausithyron, propemptikon, stichomythia (if any of these terms or others are unknown to you, look them up in (e.g.) the indices of Nisbet and Hubbard's commentaries on Horace's Odes or of Russell and Winterbottom's Ancient Literary Criticism, the Oxford Latin Dictionary, or the Oxford Classical Dicitionary, and/or seek guidance from your module conveners). In the main paragraphs:
  • say what you feel should be said about the details of the passage, going through it in order and indicating points of interest. You may find it useful to quote a few words of the original and then comment on them, or use line numbers to refer to the text.
  • draw out detailed examples of the elements you identified in the introduction outlined above, specifically keyed to the wording of the passage; plus (where relevant):metaphor and related figures (simile, personification, etymological play, metonymy); verbal style (general linguistic register, unusual/colourful vocabulary), word order (e.g. artistic rearrangement of natural order, esp. in poetry); metrical and phonic effects. Once again, remember to analyse and evaluate, not simply describe. For further guidance, please feel free to approach the module convener
Deadlines for coursework

Submission deadlines must be heeded: the University has regulated that essays will attract a penalty of 5% for each day they are late. If you foresee difficulties in meeting the deadline, it is imperative that you contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies (also see below).

The deadlines for coursework submission for this course are as follows:

Coursework term 1: submit by 12pm on date tbc

Coursework term 2: submit by 12pm on date tbc (see Moodle)

Please refer to the departmental handbook and the document ‘Advice on writing essays’ for further information about assessment criteria and marking. This is available online. It is advisable to proof-read your coursework from a printed version and not on screen.

Extensions to Essay Deadlines

Applications for an extension to the coursework deadlines are only allowed in exceptional circumstances – well-documented medical reasons etc. Any such application should be made to the Director of Undergraduate Studies well before the deadline. Problems with e.g. printers, getting hold of books, bunching-up of coursework deadlines etc. are rarely considered acceptable excuses. Only in exceptional circumstances will an extension be allowed beyond two weeks.


Plagiarism, defined as ‘the attempt to pass off someone else’s work as one’s own’ is a variety of cheating or fraud. It is taken very seriously by the University and students who are caught can suffer penalties which are extremely detrimental to their career. Fortunately plagiarism has not been a problem in our Department and we fully anticipate that this situation will continue.To avoid any confusion however you should take special care with two things: cite the sources you are using, and use quotation marks for the quotations you are including. If any of the above is unclear, contact the Module tutor. There is more information in the Departmental Handbook.