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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 in the second term 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, 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 (e.g. Virgil’s Eclogues, Seneca’s de Clementia), alongside an anthology of further related texts, commentaries and reference works. Latin texts will be chosen on a yearly basis in response to current critical debates and the most recent and original scholarship. Each two hour 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. They will be assessed by a final 5,000-word essay.

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.

Module Convenor:

Professor Victoria Rimell.


This module is worth 30 CATS.