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Classical Views of Literature & the Visual Arts - Bibliography

Primary texts

On literature: Excerpts from Homer and other pre-Platonic authors; Plato, Ion, Republic 2-3; Aristotle Poetics; Longinus, On the Sublime; Horace, Epistles 1.2,2.1, 2.3; Ovid, Tristia 2, 4.10; Quintilian, Institutio oratoria ('Education of an Orator') 10, Suetonius, Lives of the Poets.

On art: Plato Republic 10, Homer, Iliad 18; Virgil, Aeneid 1, 8; Propertius 2.12, 2.31; Ovid, Metamorphoses. Lessing Laocoon

  • Many of these texts are in the OUP anthologies Classical Literary Criticism and Ancient Literary Criticism ed. D.A. Russell and M. Winterbottom Oxford OUP 1972).
  • In making reference to these works provide the correct reference to a classical source (the book of the ancient author, followed by chapter or verse or the Stephanus page [e.g. Plato Rep. 395a], instead of or as well as the page number of an English translation

Prescription of texts for Latin syllabus

(roughly in the order in which they will be presented on the course)


Horace, Epistles 1.2, Epistles 2.1 [Letter to Augustus], 2.3 [Ars Poetica 474 verses]

Ovid Tristia 2.353-70, Tristia 4.10 [Poet’s autobiography]

Suetonius Lives of the Poets (Terence Virgil, Horace, Persius, Lucan)


Propertius, Elegies 2.12, 2.31

Virgil, Aeneid 8.608-731 [Shield of Aeneas], Aeneid 1.446-97 [Temple in Carthage]

Ovid, Metamorphoses 10.243-97 [Pygmalion]

General reference works

The Oxford Classical Dictionary is an indispensable resource. There are entries on authors, literary genres and categories ('epic', 'tragedy') and on topics in visual art.

Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics ed Alex Preminger 1965, revised 1974. There is also the 1993 New Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics  

Conte, G. B. Latin Literature A History (London 1994)

Dihle, A. A History of Greek Literature (London and New York 1994)

Introductory works

Beardsley, M. Aesthetics: Problems in the Philosophy of Criticism (Indianapolis 1981)

Berger, J. Ways of Seeing (Cambridge 1995)

Eagleton, T. Literary Theory (Oxford 1982)

Russell, D.A. Criticism in Antiquity (London 1981)

Sheppard A. Aesthetics (Oxford 1987)

Sontag S. On Photography (London 1977)

Useful anthologies

Elsner J. (ed) Art and Text in Roman Culture (Cambridge 1996)

Jefferson, A. and Robey, D. (ed) Modern Literary Theory: A Comparative Introduction (London 1986)

Kennedy G ed. Cambridge History of Literary Criticism: vol 1 Classical criticism (Cambridge 1989)

Laird A. ed. Ancient Literary Criticism (Oxford 2006)

Preziosi, D. ed. The Art of Art History: A Critical Anthology (Oxford 1998)


Barnes, J. (ed.) The Cambridge Companion to Aristotle (Cambridge 1995)
Beardsley, M. Aesthetics: Problems in the Philosophy of Criticism (Indianapolis 1981) BH 81.B3
Belfiore, E. Tragic Pleasures: Aristotle on Plot and Emotion (Princeton 1992) PN 1040.A7
Brink, C.O. (1963-82) Horace on Poetry, 3 vols. (Cambridge)
Costa, C.D.N. (ed.) (1973) Horace (London)
Curtius, E. R. European Literature and the Latin Middle Ages (Princeton 1990)
Dorter, K. (1973) ' The Ion: Plato's Characterisation of Art', Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 32 (1), 65-78.
Edwards, C. The Politics of Immorality in Ancient Rome (Cambridge 1993) PA 6029.M6
Fiske, G.C. & Grant, M.A. (1924) ‘Cicero’s Orator and the Ars poetica’ Harvard Studies in Classical Philology 35, 1-75
Ford, A. (2002) The Origins of Criticism (Princeton and Oxford)
Fortenbaugh, W.W. Aristotle on Emotion: A Contribution to Philosophical Psychology (New York 1975) B491.E5
Fraenkel, E. (1957) Horace (Oxford), 308-9, 314-21
Gleason, M. Making Men: Sophists and the Self-Presentation in Ancient Rome (Princeton 1995) PA 3083.G5
Gransden, Murray & Winnifrith (eds), Aspects of Epic
Graziosi, B. Inventing Homer: the Early Reception of Epic (Cambridge 2002) PA4037.G7
Grube, G.M.A. The Greek and Roman Critics (London 1968) PA 3013.G7
Harriott, R. (1969) Poetry and Criticism before Plato (London)
Janaway, C. (1995) Images of Excellence: Plato's Critique of the Arts (Oxford)
Kayser, W.J. The Grotesque in Art and Literature (New York 1981) N8217.G8
Kennedy, G. (1969) Quintilian (New York)
Kennedy, G. A. (ed.) The Cambridge History of Literary Criticism (Cambridge 1989), vol. 1. Classical Criticism PN 86.C2
Kennedy, G.A. Classical Rhetoric and Its Christian and Secular Tradition from Ancient to Modern Times (Chapel Hill, NC 1980) PA 3265.K3
Kristeller, P. O. Renaissance Thought and the Arts (Princeton 1992)
Ludwig, W. (ed.) (1982) Eloquence et rhétorique chez Cicéron (Geneva)
MacLeod, C.W. (1979) 'The Poetry of Ethics: Horace Epistles 1', Journal of Roman Studies, 69, 16-27.
MacLeod, C.W. (2001) ‘Homer on Poetry and the Poetry of Homer’, in Oxford Readings in Homer’s ‘Iliad’, ed. D. L. Cairns (Oxford), 294-310
Murray, P. (ed.) (1995), Plato on Poetry (Cambridge) (Introduction and commentary)
Pfeiffer, R. History of Classical Scholarship. From the Beginnings to the End of the Hellenistic Age (Oxford 1968) PA 51.P3
Reynolds, L.D. & Wilson, N.G. Scribes and Scholars (Oxford 1993) PA 51.R3
Russell, D. A. & Winterbottom, M. (eds) Ancient Literary Criticism. The Principal Texts in Translation (Oxford 1972) PN 173.R8
Russell, D.A. Criticism in Antiquity (London 1981) PA 3013.R8
Sheppard, A. (1993) Aesthetics (Oxford)
Smithson, I. (1983) 'The Moral View of Aristotle's Poetics', Journal of the History of Ideas 44, 3-17
Toohey, P. (1994) ‘Epic and Rhetoric’, in Worthington, I. (ed.) Persuasion. Greek Rhetoric in Action (London – New York)
Toohey, P. (1994) Reading Epic (London – New York), chapters 1, 2, 3, 7
Vickers, B. In Defence of Rhetoric (Oxford 1988) PN 175.V4
Walker, J. Rhetoric and Poetics in Antiquity (Princeton 2001) PA 3265.W2

On modern views of literature:

Eagleton, T. Literary Theory (Oxford 1982)
Preminger, O. (ed.) Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics (London 1975, repr. 1995)
Jefferson, A. and Robey, D. (ed) Modern Literary Theory: A Comparative Introduction (London 1986)

Viewing Textuality in Antiquity:
Annas, J. (1981) An Introduction to Plato's Republic (Oxford)
Baxandall, M. Giotto and the Orators (Oxford 1971) ND 615.B2
Baxandall, M. Patterns of Intention: on the historical explanation of pictures (Yale Univ Press 1985)
Beagon, M. Roman Nature: the thought of Pliny the Elder (Oxford 1992)
Belfiore, E. (1984) 'A Theory of Imitation in Plato's Republic', Transactions of the American Philological Association, 114, 121-46
Blair Macdougall, E. (ed.) (1987) Ancient Roman Villa Gardens (Washington DC)
Commentaries to Homer Iliad and Vergil Aeneid
Elsner, J. (ed.) Art and Text in Roman Culture (Cambridge 1996) N 5760.AZ
Garland, R. The Eye of the Beholder: Deformity and Disability in the Graeco-Roman World (London 1995) DE 61.D4
Gazda, E. (1991) Roman Art in the Private Sphere (Ann Arbor, MI)
Gerson, L.P. (1998) The Cambridge Companion to Plotinus (Cambridge)
Goldhill, S. & Osborne, R. (edd.) Art and Text in Greek Culture (Cambridge 1994) N 5633.A7
Gombrich, E.H. (1986) ‘Ideal and Type in Italian Renaissance Painting’, in New Light on Old Masters (London)
Harrison, S.J. (2001), ‘Picturing the Future: the Proleptic Ekphrasis from Homer to Virgil’, in Texts, Ideas, and the Classics (Oxford), 70-91
Haskell, F. & Penny, N. Taste and the Antique. The Lure of Classical Sculpture 1500-1900 (New Haven and London 1981) NB 85.H2
Heinze, R. (1993) ‘Descriptio’, in Virgil’s Epic Technique (Bristol), 311-14
Hyman, J. The Imitation of Nature (Oxford 1989)
Janaway, C. Images of Excellence: Plato's Critique of the Arts (Oxford 1995) B398.A4
Kristeller, P. O. Renaissance Thought and the Arts (Princeton 1990)
Mitchell, W. Iconology (Chicago 1992)
Moon, W.G. (ed.) (1995) Polykleitos, the Doryphoros, and Tradition (London)
Percival, J. (1981) The Roman Villa (London)
Raphael Letter to B. Castiglione (in E. H. Gombrich, ‘Ideal and Type in Italian Renaissance Painting’, in New Light on Old Masters, London 1986).
Seznec, J. The Survival of the Pagan Gods (New York 1953) BL 722.S3
Sontag, Susan On Photography (New York 1977)
Taplin, O. (2001) ‘The Shield of Achilles within the Iliad’, in Oxford Readings in Homer’s ‘Iliad’, ed. D. L. Cairns (Oxford)
Taràn, S.L. (1979) The Art of Variation in the Hellenistic Epigram (Leiden)
Wellbery, D.E. (1984) Lessing’s ‘Laocoon’ (Cambridge) chapter 3
Zanker, P. The Power of Images in the Age of Augustus (Ann Arbor 1990) N 5760.Z2

Visual Arts

Iliad 18 and the Shield of Achilles in context

Alden, M. (2000), Homer Beside Himself: Para-Narratives in the Iliad (Oxford), ch. 3
Fowler, D. P. (1991), 'Narrate and Describe: The Problem of Ekphrasis', Journal of Roman Studies 81: 25–35, reprinted in his Roman Constructions: Studies in Postmodern Latin (Oxford) (excellent and highly recommended theoretical article)
Goldhill, S. D. (1991), The Poet's Voice: Essays on Poetics and Greek Literature (Cambridge)
Hardie, P. R. (1985), 'Imago mundi: cosmological and ideological aspects of the shield of Achilles', Journal of Hellenic Studies 105: 11-32
Henderson, J. (1993), 'Hendanceson Tuplin's Shield (and on)', Liverpool Classical Monthly 18.4: 58-62 - deconstruction of Taplin (below) [Photocopy in Box in Office]
de Jong, I. J. F. (1987), Narrators and Focalizers: The Presentation of the Story in the Iliad (Amsterdam)
Moulton, C. (1977), Similes in the Homeric Poems (Gottingen)
Taplin, O. P. (1980), 'The Shield of Achilles within the Iliad', Greece & Rome 27: 1-21, reprinted in D. L. Cairns, Oxford Readings in Homer’s Iliad


Art and Rhetoric in Vitruvius and Pliny the Elder

M. Beagon, Roman Nature: the thought of Pliny the Elder. Oxford, 1992.
S. Carey, Pliny’s Catalogue of Culture: art and empire in the Natural History. Oxford, 2003 [on order for library].
C. Edwards, The Politics of Immorality in Ancient Rome. Cambridge, 1993. Ch 4
Elsner, J. (1995) Art and the Roman Viewer, Cambridge. ch. 2.
J. Isager, Pliny on Art and Society, London and New York, 1991.
R. Ling, Roman Painting. Cambridge, 1991.



Ekphrasis and the Second Sophistic:

Bartsch, S. (1989) Decoding the Ancient Novel. The Reader and the Role of Description in Heliodorus and Achilles Tatius, Princeton.
Bowersock, G. (1969) Greek Sophists in the Roman Empire, Oxford.
Elsner, J. ed. 1996. Art and Text in Roman Culture, Cambridge. 103-130.
Elsner, J. (2007) Roman Eyes. Visuality and Subjectivity in Art and Text. Cambridge.
Webb, R. (1999) ‘Ekphrasis ancient and modern: the invention of a genre’, Word and Image: a journal of verbal/visual enquiry 15.1: 7-18.


S. E. Alcock, J. F. Cherry & J. Elsner eds., Pausanias. Travel and Memory in Roman Greece (New York, 2001)
Arafat, K. W. (1995) ‘Pausanias and the Temple of Hera’, Annual of the British School at Athens 90: 461-473.
K. W. Arafat, Pausanias’ Greece. Ancient Artists and Roman Rulers (Cambridge, 1996)
C. Habicht, Pausanias’ Guide to Ancient Greece (2nd edition; Berkeley, Los Angeles & London, 1988),



Goldhill, S. ‘The erotic eye: visual stimulation and cultural conflict’ in S. Goldhill ed. Being Greek under Rome. Cultural Identity, the Second Sophistic and the Development of Empire. Cambridge, 2001: 154-94.
Newby, Z. (2002) ‘Reading Programmes in Graeco-Roman Art: Reflections on the Spada Reliefs’ in Fredrick, D. (ed.) The Roman Gaze. Vision, Power and the Body. Baltimore: 110–48.
Newby, Z. (2002) ‘Testing the boundaries of Ekphrasis: Lucian On the Hall’ in J. Elsner ed., The Verbal and the Visual. Cultures of Ekphrasis in Antiquity. Ramus 31.1-2 (2002) 126-35. Not in library – offprint in box in office.


Philostratus the Elder:

Bann, S. (1989) The True Vine. On Visual Representation and the Western Tradition, Cambridge. esp. 118-144.
Bryson, N. (1994) ‘Philostratus and the imaginary museum’, in Goldhill, S. and Osborne. R. (eds.) Art and Text in Greek Culture, Cambridge. 255-283.
Elsner, J. (1996) ‘Naturalism and the Erotics of the Gaze. Intimations of Narcissus’ in Kampen, N. B. (ed.) Sexuality in Ancient Art, Cambridge. 247-261.
Lehmann-Hartleben, K. (1941) ‘The Imagines of the Elder Philostratus’, Art Bulletin 23: 16-44. (via JSTOR)
Newby, Z. (2009) ‘Absorption and Erudition in Philostratus’ Imagines’ in E. Bowie and J. Elsner eds., Philostratus Cambridge , 2009: 322-42. [On order for library; photocopy in box in office].



Bergmann, B. (1995) "Visualizing Pliny's villas" Journal of Roman Archaeology 8, 406-20
Henderson, John (2002) Pliny's Statue: The Letters, Self-Portraiture and Classical Art (Exeter)
Leach, E. (1990) "The politics of self-representation: Pliny's Letters and Roman portrait sculpture", Classical Antiquity 9, 14-39
Riggsby, A. (1995) "Pliny on Cicero and oratory: self-fashioning in the public eye", American Journal of Philology 116, 123-35
Riggsby, A. (1998) "Sellf and community in the Younger Pliny", Arethusa 31, 75-97.