The Golden Age of Latin Literature - ENG00096I

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  • Department: English and Related Literature
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Christine Williamson
  • Credit value: 30 credits
  • Credit level: I
  • Academic year of delivery: 2017-18

Module summary

To learn some Latin is a very great asset indeed for anyone studying English Literature. English owes much of its vocabulary to Latin, while research shows that learning Latin improves understanding of English and the quality of one's own writing. Study of Latin was the basis of school education from the Middle Ages until 1918, while the great Roman writers exerted an unparalleled influence on English literature and culture of all periods.

This module has two main objectives. The first is to allow students to improve further their ability to translate and analyse texts in Latin. The second is to enable them to explore something of the history and character of the Latin literature of the late Republic and the principate of Augustus, a period subsequently often called 'The Golden Age' because of the quality of the writings produced in it.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Spring Term 2017-18 to Summer Term 2017-18

Module aims

This is a 2nd year Language/Literature module with two main objectives. The first is to allow students to improve further their ability to translate and analyse texts in Latin. This is in general a useful skill, but it is particularly so for students of English Literature, given the massive influence Latin had on English writing of all periods. The second is to enable them to explore something of the history and character of the Latin Literature of the late Republic and early Empire, the so-called Golden Age in which many especially influential works were produced. Connections, where appropriate, will be made with some of the English writings they have influenced. We look at a number of major writers, of both prose and verse, and a number of different genres. Time will be divided between reading passages in Latin and revising, and extending knowledge of, grammar and syntax, and discussing wider issues about Latin literature and its reception in English. As well as preparing manageable passages for translation and comment (with the help of commentaries) students will be expected to read in English works by the writers studied.

Module learning outcomes

Subject content

Students will be familiar with some of the Latin texts of the Late Republic and Early Empire (in English) and will have read selected passages in Latin (prose and verse); they will have explored aspects of the reception and translation of these works. Having completed the module they will have

  • An ability to read a selection of classical Latin works at a beginners level
  • A beginners knowledge of Latin grammar
  • An ability to respond critically to Latin texts
  • A knowledge of a representative range of Golden Age Latin writers, read in translation
  • An understanding of some of the issues involved in the interpretation of Latin literature
  • An appreciation of some of the connections between Latin and English literature

Academic and graduate skills

They will have developed language skills, skills in close reading, and analytic skills in marshalling and presenting arguments

Module content

Cicero and Caesar established the 'classic' style for Latin prose that constituted a norm for future centuries, sometimes to be imitated, sometimes reacted against. Great poets included Catullus, Lucretius, and Horace, while the two most influential of all Latin poems, Virgil's Aeneid (surely the most profound poem about empire ever written) and Ovid's Metamorphoses, sometimes called the Bible of poets and artists, belong to this period. Sallust (Milton's favourite historian) and Livy wrote important histories. Connections, where appropriate, will be made with some of the English writings these works have influenced.

Time will be divided between reading passages in Latin while revising, and extending knowledge of, grammar and syntax, and discussing wider issues about Latin literature and its reception in English. As well as preparing manageable passages for translation and comment (with the help of commentaries) students will be expected to read in English works by the writers studied. Classical literature, as stated above, not only provides a fascinating insight into the ancient world, but also heavily influenced authors from medieval times to the twenty-first century. Consequently, this module also helps to provide a useful platform for further undergraduate and postgraduate study across all periods.

Assessment

Task Length % of module mark
Essay/coursework
2,500 word essay
N/A 50
University - closed examination
The Golden Age of Latin Literature
3 hours 50

Special assessment rules

None

Additional assessment information

  • Students will receive feedback from both the closed exam and 2500 word essay within four weeks

Reassessment

Task Length % of module mark
Essay/coursework
Reassessment essay
N/A 100

Module feedback

  • Students are encouraged to use staff Open Office Hours to discuss essay feedback. Details of this term's Open Office Hours are on the Student Home Page.
  • For more information about the feedback you will receive for your work, see the department’s Guide to Assessment, available on the Student Home Page.

Indicative reading

Selected passages from among the following: Cicero, Caesar, Catullus, Virgil, Horace, Ovid

Texts to be read in English may include selected writings of Cicero, Catullus, Complete Poems, Virgil Aeneid, Ovid Metamorphoses

J. Morwood, A Latin Grammar



The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.