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Art & Death in Neronian Culture - Syllabus


  • Lucan, Civil War, Books 1-2, 7-9

  • Suetonius, The Twelve Caesars (Life of Nero only)
  • Petronius, Satyricon 
  • Tacitus, The Annals of Imperial Rome Books 13-16 (NB The Roman book divisions do NOT always correspond to the translation chapter divisions. Books 13-16 of the Latin are covered by Chapters 11-16 of the Penguin translation)
  • Seneca, Letters (5, 11, 28, 47, 53, 56, 63, 77, 82, 84, 88, 90, 108, and 114)

Recommended translations:

  • Lucan Civil War, translated with an introduction and notes by Susan H. Braund (Oxford World’s Classics 1992)
  • Suetonius The Twelve Caesars, translated by Robert Graves (Life of Nero only) (rev. edn., Penguin 2007)
  • Petronius Satyricon, translated with introductions and notes by J. P. Sullivan (rev. edn., Penguin 2011)
  • Tacitus The Annals of Imperial Rome (Books 13-16 only), translated with an introduction by Michael Grant (Penguin 1971)
  • Seneca, Selected Letters, ed. E. Fantham (Oxford World's Classics 2010)

If you wish to use translations other than those listed above, this may well be fine as there is often more than one good translation. Please check with the module tutor. Note, however, that all gobbets in the exams will be set from the editions above.

Ideally all students (i.e. Latinists and non-Latinists) should at least look at the Latin of the texts we are studying. You will find these in the Loeb Classical Library series.



  • Tacitus Annals 15.32-74: available in an edition, ed. by N. P. Miller (MacMillan 1973)

  • Seneca, Letters (5, 11, 28, 47, 53, 56, 63, 77, 82, 84, 88, 90, 108, and 114), in Select Letters of Seneca, ed. W.C. Summers (Bristol Classical Press 1910, repr. 1999)
  • Petronius Cena Trimalchionis (a continuous episode from the Satyricon) chaps 26-46: the Latin text is edited with a useful introduction by M. S. Smith (Oxford 1975)


Autumn Term 2012

Week 2 - Introduction

Lecture: Contextualising Neronian literature

Seminar: How to read silver Latin

Reading: Dio Cassius 61-3; works listed under General Bibliography [Phrases in italics under ‘Reading’ on this page denote sections of the module bibliography.]

Week 3 - Suetonius

Lecture: Introduction to Suetonius: Life, sources, works

Seminar: The Suetonian biography

Reading: General bibliography; Suetonius and Nero

Week 4 - Tacitus

Lecture: Introduction to Tacitus’ Annals

Seminar: Tacitus’ literary style

Reading: Tacitus

Week 5 - Tacitus

Lecture: Nero’s government and the Armenian campaign

Seminar: Tacitean narrative

Reading: Tacitus


Week 7 - Tacitus

Lecture: The fire of Rome and the conspiracy

Seminar: Characterisation in Tacitus

Reading: Tacitus

Week 8 - Review: Roman historiography

Lecture: Writing Greek and Roman history

Seminar: The differences between ancient and modern conceptions of history

Reading: General Bibliography; Suetonius and Nero; Tacitus

Week 9 - Petronius. ESSAYS DUE MONDAY (26th Nov.)

Lecture: Introduction to the Satyricon

Seminar: Petronian narrative

Reading: Petronius; Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby. Optional activity outside class-time (dependent on interest): viewing of Fellini’s film of the Satyricon

Week 10 - Petronius

Lecture: The purpose of the Satyricon

Seminar: Characters at Trimalchio’s Dinner

Reading: Petronius; The Great Gatsby

Spring Term 2013 

Week 1 - Roman Philosophy

Lecture: Background to ancient philosophy, from the Greeks to the first century A.D.

Seminar: Philosophy in Roman literature

Reading: Rist, J. (1969) Stoic Philosophy, Cambridge; Griffin, M. T., and Barnes, J. (1989) Philosophia Togata I: Essays on Philosophy and Roman Society, Oxford.

Week 2 - Seneca

Lecture: Stoic philosophy and Roman values

Seminar: Analysing Seneca’s conception of philosophy

Reading: Seneca

Week 3 - Seneca

Lecture: Seneca’s life and times

Seminar: Seneca: persona and reality

Reading: Seneca

Week 4 - Seneca

Lecture: Seneca and the epistolary form

Seminar: Seneca and Lucilius

Reading: Seneca

Week 5 - Tacitus, Petronius, Seneca

Lecture: Silver Latin prose

Seminar: Comparative analysis of Tacitus, Petronius and Seneca

Reading: Comparative Studies


Week 7 - Lucan. ESSAYS DUE TUESDAY (19th Feb.)

Lecture: Lucan’s Civil War in the context of Latin epic

Seminar: What kind of an epic poet was Lucan?

Reading: Lucan

Week 8 - Lucan

Lecture: Lucan and Roman rhetorical education

Seminar: Rhetorical speeches in the Civil War

Reading: Lucan

Week 9 - Lucan and Seneca

Lecture: The Stoic hero in Roman literature

Seminar: Stoicism in Lucan and Seneca

Reading: Lucan; Coffey, M. (1996) ‘Generic impropriety in the high style: satirical themes in Seneca and Lucan’ in Klodt, C. (1996) (ed.) Satura lanx: Festschrift für Werner A. Krenkel zum 70. Geburtstag: 81-93 (provided by lecturer).

Week 10 - Conclusion: Art and death

Lecture: The place of death in Neronian literature

Seminar: Attitudes to death and dying

Reading: Robert Graves’ writings under Reception; anything on bibliography not yet read.

Summer Term 2013

Weeks 1-2 - Gobbets

Weeks 3-4 - Revision classes: examination technique; areas of concern raised by students.