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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: 2019-20

Module summary

This module has two main objectives. The first is to allow you to learn some of the basics of the Latin language (taught from scratch), so that youcan begin to translate and analyse texts in Latin. The second is to enable you 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.

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 onwards, while the great Roman writers exerted an unparalleled influence on English literature and culture of all periods.

This course however will also introduce you to some of the most influential writers in the history of mankind. We will look at a number of major writers, of both prose and verse, and a number of different genres.  Cicero and Caesar established the 'classic' style for Latin prose that constituted a norm for future centuries, sometimes to be imitated, sometimes reacted against, and Sallust and Livy wrote important histories. 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.  Texts studied may include selected passages from among the following (in the original): Cicero, Caesar, Catullus, Virgil, Horace, Ovid; and texts to be read in English include selected writings of Cicero, Catullus, Complete Poems, Virgil Aeneid, Ovid Metamorphoses.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Spring Term 2019-20 to Summer Term 2019-20

Module aims

The aims of this module are to enable you to explore the history and character of ‘Golden Age’ Latin literature, and to learn some of the basics of the Latin language. 

Module learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module you should be able to:

  1. Demonstrate an informed understanding of and engagement with a range of Golden Age Latin writers, read in translation.
  2. Demonstrate an informed understanding of and engagement with relevant cultural and historical contexts.
  3. Examine key debates and critical contexts.
  4. Develop arguments and ideas which demonstrate a proficiency in critical thinking, research, and writing skills.
  5. Demonstrate a basic knowledge of  Latin, and an understanding of some of the key issues at stake in the act of translation


Task Length % of module mark
Essay 2500 words
N/A 70
Online Exam
The Golden Age of Latin Literature
N/A 30

Special assessment rules


Additional assessment information

You will be given the opportunity to hand in a 1000 word formative essay in week 1 of the summer term, as preparation for the week 7 summative essay. Material from this essay may be re-visited in your summative essay and it is therefore an early chance to work through material that might be used in assessed work.

This essay will be submitted in hard copy and your tutor will annotate it and return it two weeks later (usually in your week 3 seminar). Summary feedback will be uploaded to your eVision account.


Task Length % of module mark
Essay 2500 words
N/A 70
Online Exam
The Golden Age of Latin Literature
N/A 30

Module feedback

  • You will receive feedback on all assessed work within the University deadline, and will often receive it more quickly. The purpose of feedback is to inform your future work; it is designed to help you to improve your work, and the Department also offers you help in learning from your feedback. If you do not understand your feedback or want to talk about your ideas further you can discuss it with your tutor or your supervisor, during their Open Office Hours  Or for MA modules put MA convener, module tutor or your supervisor
  • For more information about the feedback you will receive for your work, see the department's Guide to Assessment

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.