00567 - Latin Literature

Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Quality education

Academic Year 2020/2021

Learning outcomes

The aim of the course is to present authors and genres of the literature of Rome in their historical development and the basic tools for interpreting Latin texts and documents. The following knowledge and skills will be requested: 1. knowledge of the literary history, which includes the ability to outline profiles of the main genres, authors (listed in the programme) and their works and set them in their historical and literary environment; 2. the ability to translate the texts in Latin listed in the programme; 3. knowledge of phonetics, morphology and basic syntax, as appearing in the mentioned texts; 4. the ablity of carrying out a literary analysis of the studied texts (both in Latin and in Italian).

Course contents

In order to make the study of the handbook of Latin Literature more effective, classes will provide an overview of different literary genres. The course will be divided up into three parts: the first one will be held by prof. Ivano Dionigi and will start on September the 21st; the second one, held by prof. Francesco Citti will start as soon as the first one is over; the third one, held by prof. Bruna Pieri will start as soon as the second is over.

If there are no relevant changes related to the Covid-19 emergency, the first week of class will be online for everyone; from the second week on, a blended teaching mode will be adopted, with students attending online and in class at the same time. Shifts of attendance will be organized in case the request to attend is higher than the capacity of the classroom.

I. SPECIAL FOCUS COURSE (lessons in class)
The literary genres in Roman literature

  • module I (I. Dionigi): Philosophical Prose and Didactic Poetry (readings from Lucretius' De rerum natura and Seneca's Epistulae).
  • module II (F. Citti): Theatre and Lyrics
    (readings from Terence's Adelphoe; Horace's Odes; Seneca's Troades)
  • module III (B. Pieri): Epic and Elegy
    (readings from Virgil's Aeneid and Ovid's Heroides)

The insights on genres and authors, presented during the lessons in class, should be integrated by a general historical framework. In particular, knowledge of the following authors of Latin literature is required: Augustine, Apuleius, Catullus, Caesar, Cicero, Ennius, Juvenal, Hieronymus, Livy, Livius Andronicus, Lucanus, Lucilius, Lucretius, Martial, Naevius, Horace, Ovid, Petronius, Plautus, Plinius the Elder, Propertius, Quintilian, Sallustius, Seneca, Statius, Suetonius, Tacite, Terentius, Tibullus, Virgil.

NB the knowledge of literary history will be verified in the first part of the exam

III. LATIN LINGUAGE (syntax); elements of TEXTUAL CRITICISM, METRICS (hexameter and elegiac couplet).
Students are in charge of this part.

1. Cicero: Pro Archia.
2. Virgil: Aeneid, Book 4

The written test (a translation from Latin into Italian) is compulsory (except for Students from Degree Cycle in History attending Latin Literature [6 ects]) and must be overcome before the oral exam of Latin Literature. The written test can be done only twice; a negative mark does not prevent from accessing to the viva voce examination.

In the event that the Covid-19 emergency continues beyond the end of the course, the written test will be integrated in the oral exam (see teacher's notices).

LECTURES: Monday, 11-13 aula Tibiletti, v. Zamboni 38; Thursday 11-13 aula Tibiletti, v. Zamboni 38; Friday 11-13 aula V, via Zamboni 38. The course will start on Monday 21st September.

SEMINARS: online teachings, via Teams:
1. Cicero, Pro Archia (D. Pellacani):thursday, 13-15 (from October 1st).
2. Vergil, Aeneid IV (E. Dal Chiele): thursday 15-17 (from October 8).
3. Preparation for written test  (C. Valenzano): wednesdy, 13-15 (from October 2nd).


Texts: The Latin texts will be uploaded online, in the ‘Teaching materials’.

Critical Readings: • 2 essays as an introduction to ancient genres: 1) G.B. Conte, Il genere tra empirismo e teoria, in Id., Generi e lettori, Milano 1991, 145-173 (or S. Harrison, Generic Groundwork, in Id., Generic Enrichment in Vergil & Horace, Oxford 2007, 1-33); 2) G. B. Conte-A. Barchiesi, Imitazione e arte allusiva, in Lo spazio letterario di Roma antica, I, La produzione del testo, Roma, Salerno Editrice, 1989, 81-114.
at least 1 essay from this list: Lucrezio: I. Dionigi, Modello grammaticale e modello fisico, in Id., Lucrezio, le parole e le cose, Bologna, Pàtron, 2005. Orazio: A. Traina, Introduzione a Orazio lirico: la poesia della saggezza, rist. in Id., Poeti latini (e neolatini). V, Bologna, Pàtron, 1998, 133-168. Seneca: A. Traina, Lo stile “drammatico” del filosofo Seneca, Bologna, Pàtron 19954 (e successive ristampe), 9-41. Virgilio: A. Barchiesi, Virgilian Narrative: ecphrasis, in C. Martindale (Ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Virgil, Cambridge 1997, 271-281; R. Heinze, La tecnica epica di Virgilio, Bologna 1996, 33-67. Ovidio: A. Barchiesi, Narratività e convenzione, in Id., P. Ovidii Nasonis Epistulae Heroidum 1-3, Firenze 1992, 15-41.

NB: Please notice that the essays are compulsory for not attending students as well.

Literature: G.B. Conte, Letteratura latina. Manuale storico dalle origini alla fine dell'impero romano, Firenze: Le Monnier, 2002 [in English: G.B. Conte, Latin Literature: A History, Baltimore, The John Hopkins UP, 1994].

Language: I. Dionigi - E. Riganti - L. Morisi, Il latino, Bari, Laterza 2011 is recommended. For Latin syntax: A. Traina, Sintassi normativa della lingua latina, Bologna: Pàtron, 2015. As an alternative, Allen and Greenough's New Latin grammar, Ginn & Company, Boston-NY-Chicago, 1903 (both for syntax and morphology). For specific problems of phonetics, morphology and syntax: A. Traina - G. Bernardi Perini, Propedeutica al latino universitario, Bologna, Pàtron, 2007, chapt. II-VI.
Textual criticsm and Latin metrics: A. Traina - G. Bernardi Perini, Propedeutica al latino universitario, Bologna, Pàtron, 2007, chapt. VII-VIII.

Cicero: Il poeta Archia, a cura di E. Narducci, traduzione di G. Bertonati, Milano: Rizzoli BUR, 2000.
Virgil: Eneide, IV, from Eneide, introduzione di A. La Penna, traduzione e note di R. Scarcia, Milano: Rizzoli BUR 2002; or Virgilio, Eneide, traduzione di M. Ramous, introduzione di G.B. Conte, commento di G. Baldo, Venezia: Marsilio, 1998.

Teaching methods

Lectures in class, complemented by seminars (where students will interact with the teachers; individual research will be discussed and essays and tests corrected).

Assessment methods

Students must take a written Latin Examination (a translation from Latin into Italian of a short passage with the help of bilingual vocabulary); the written examination must be taken before the oral one. The written test can be done only twice; a negative mark does not prevent from accessing to the viva voce examination.

In the viva voce examination the students will be tested Latin phonetics, morphology, syntax and literature through the reading and translation of the Latin texts dealt with in class and listed in the programme.

Please note that, as far as the viva voce examination is concerned, the course can be splitted between core course (parts II, III and IV), to be completed first and focus course (part I): two exam sessions at most are allowed between these two parts

The assessment criteria is thus explained:
failing grades: lack of basic linguistic knowledge and inability to produce a correct translation and interpretation of the text. Lack of knowledge of Latin literature
passing grades: language proficiency at an intermediate level; translation and literary interpretation of the texts are mostly correct, but inaccurate and lacking in autonomy
excellent grades: language proficiency at an upper-mid level; translation and interpretation of the texts are not only correct, but carried out with autonomy and precision. Good knowledge of Latin prosody and metrics.

Teaching tools

Lectures are complemented by seminars on different aspects of Latin Literature (please see the course programme). Teaching materials will be distributed in class and uploaded online as well.

Office hours

See the website of Francesco Citti

See the website of Ivano Dionigi

See the website of Bruna Pieri