13282 - Latin Literature (1)

Course Unit Page


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

Quality education Gender equality Reduced inequalities

Academic Year 2022/2023

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course students will have a good knowledge of the Latin language and the works and thoughts of Roman historians. They will possess the basic theory, methodology and languages to interpret literary phenomena. They will recognise the importance of certain complex themes and concepts in ancient culture. They will use the appropriate terminology of their discipline, be able to appreciate different cultures and spot the tie-ups between history and literature.

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. Bruna Pieri and will start on September the 19th; the second one, held by prof. Francesco Citti, will start as soon as the first one is over; the third one, held by prof. Daniele Pellacani will start as soon as the second is over.

Students from Degree Cycle in "Foreign Languages and Literatures" attending Latin Literature (9 ects) are supposed to join the whole course and to prepare a reduced programm (please, see below)

Students from Degree Cycle in History attending Latin Literature (6 ects) are supposed to join only the first part of the course and to prepare a reduced programm (please see below).


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

  • module I (B. Pieri): Epic and Elegy
    (readings from Virgil's Aeneid 1 and 2 and Ovid's Heroides 3)
  • module II (F. Citti): Theatre and Lyrics
    (readings from Plautus' Amphitruo; Horace's Odes; Seneca's Troades).
  • module III (D. Pellacani): Philosophical Prose and Didactic Poetry (readings from Lucretius' De rerum natura 3 and Seneca's Ad Marciam)

II. LATIN LITERATURE (classes; individual study):

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.

III. Latin Language (syntax); Textual Criticism, Metres (hexameter and elegiac couplet). Students are in charge of this part

IV. AUTHORS (in Latin) Students are in charge of this part

1. Cicero: Pro Archia.

2. Vergil: Aeneid, Book 4

Students from Degree Cycle in History attending Latin Literature (6 ects) are supposed to prepare only Cicero, Pro Archia

Students from Degree Cycle in Foreign Languages and Literatures attending Latin Literature (9 ects) are supposed to prepare only Virgil, Aeneid 4.

V. Translation of a short sentence from a not previously disclosed text


Slides or pdf containing the Latin texts will be uploaded to the course website at the link "Materiali didattici"; further bibliography will be suggested as well.

In addition to the notes from the lessons, it is compulsory to read the following essays:

  • G.B. Conte, Il genere tra empirismo e teoria, in Id., Generi e lettori, Milano 1991, 145-173 (in alternativa S. Harrison, Generic Groundwork, in Id., Generic Enrichment in Vergil & Horace, Oxford 2007, 1-33)
  • 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.

Students are also supposed to read one from the following essays:

Lucretius: A. Traina, Dira libido (Sul linguaggio lucreziano dell'eros), in Poeti latini (e neolatini), II, Bologna 1991 (II ed.), 11-34 or I. Dionigi, Modello grammaticale e modello fisico, in Id., Lucrezio, le parole e le cose, Bologna, Pàtron, 2005

Horace: 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.

Virgil: 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.

Ovid: 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.


G.B. Conte, Letteratura latina. Manuale storico dalle origini alla fine dell'impero romano, Firenze, Le Monnier, 2002 [also in Engl. transl.: 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. As for the syntax: A. Traina, Sintassi normativa della lingua latina, Bologna, Cappelli, 1993. As an alternative, Allen and Greenough's New Latin grammar, Ginn & Company, Boston-NY-Chicago, 1903 (both for syntax and morphology). See also A. Traina - G. Bernardi Perini, Propedeutica al latino universitario, Bologna, Pàtron, 2007, chapt. I-VI.

Textual criticsm and Latin prosody: A. Traina - G. Bernardi Perini, Propedeutica al latino universitario, Bologna, Pàtron, 2007, chapt. VII-VIII.


: Il poeta Archia, a c. di E. Narducci, traduzione di G. Bertonati, Milano, Rizzoli BUR, 2000.

Vergilius: Aeneis, Book 4, 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. Baldon, Venezia, Marsilio, 1998.

Teaching methods

Lectures in class on part 1 and on some issues of part 2 (History of Latin literature) and 3 (prosody, textual criticism); students are in charge of part 4 and 5.

On line Seminars (see course contents) devoted to the introduction to the bases of the Latin language (phonetics, morphology and syntax) through the reading of Cicero and Virgil

With the exception of supplementary activities, classes will be held in presence (changes are possible if the pandemic situation worsens).

Assessment methods

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 and through the oral translation from Latin into Italian of a short sentence from a text not previously disclosed (without vocabulary and with possible help from the professor for non-basic vocabulary);

they will also have to read metrically the hexameter and the elegiac couplet; answer questions on the history of literature (either on individual authors or on  genres); discuss the essays and topics of the monographic course.

please note that, as far as the viva voce examination is concerned, the course can be splitted between core course (parts 2, 3 and 4), to be completed first, and focus course (part 1 and 5): two exam sessions at most are allowed between these two parts

assessment guidelines:
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 mostly correct, but inaccurate and lacking autonomy
excellent grades: language proficiency at an upper-mid level; translation and interpretation of the texts not only correct, but performed with autonomy and precision. Knowledge of Latin prosody and metrics.

The assessment of the translation from a not previously disclosed text (point V of the syllabus) will influence the overall mark of the oral exam according to a range from a maximum penalty of 2 points (failure to understand the text), to a maximum reward of 2 points (autonomous recognition of vocabulary and constructs, full understanding of the text, production of a translation in correct Italian)

Erasmus or foreigner students are allowed to attend the exam - as far as translation from Latin is concerned - in English, French, German or Spanish.

Teaching tools

Pdf files and slides containing texts and / or further bibliography will be uploaded to the course website at the link "Virtuale

Office hours

See the website of Bruna Pieri