Course Code
CLAS 0080
Course Type
Subject Credit
Course Availability

This course examines Latin literature in the first century BCE, universally regarded as a high point in Roman culture, with authors such as Lucretius, Cicero, Catullus, Virgil, Horace, Propertius.  Major themes include the influence of preceding Greek literature, the place of women in society and texts, questions of politics, patronage and power, and the relation between Latin literature and philosophy and religion. The ‘book’ both as a technological and artistic fact is also an important area of interest in the period. These key authors also of course provoke study of more purely literary matters: questions of style, imagery, symbolism, allegory, convention, originality and so on.

Set texts:

Lucretius, De Rerum Natura 1

Cicero, Pro Archia

Catullus, 64 and 68

Virgil, Eclogues

Horace, Odes 3

Propertius 4


  1. The Eclogues and the politics of their time
  2. Lucretius: poetry and philosophy
  3. What Cicero’s Pro Archia tells us about the value of poetry in his society or about being a Greek in Rome
  4. The role of the poet in these texts
  5. The landscapes and people of Italy in literature of the 1st century BC
  6. The moral outlook of these texts
  7. Catullus’ use of myths
  8. Different approaches to love 

Note that there is no language requirement for this course: texts are studied in translation.  However, for students with the required language skills it is also possible to study these texts in the original.  Please contact the Senior Tutor to discuss this.