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Level 5

5AACLT01 Introductory Latin Texts I (Prose): Various Texts

Module convenor and assigned text change from year-to-year, please see below for annual information

Credit value: 15
Module convenor/tutor: Various, changes from year-to-year, see below
Teaching pattern: 10 x weekly 2-hour classes (weekly)
Availability: Please see module list for relevant year
Assessment: 1 x 2-hour examination (100%) (For Study Abroad students attending for Semester 1 only, 1 x 2-hour test paper in December.)

Students are reassessed in the failed elements of assessment and by the same methods as the first attempt.
Prerequisites: Normally 5AACLA3ANB Students who have taken a Level 5 text in one year should normally not take another in a following year. (Available to study abroad students with equivalent experience)

The modules offered in each academic year are subject to change in line with staff availability and student demand: there is no guarantee every module will run. Module descriptions and information may vary between years.

This is a Level 5 Latin text module, focusing on prose.  The text prescription will vary from time to time, and will be announced before module choices have to be made for the next academic session.  Specimen prescriptions, from previous years, can be found below.  The examination will test grammatical knowledge as well as translation ability.

For the specific text assigned for a particular year, please see below:


2016-17, Augustus to Nero

Module convenor/tutor: Dr Martin Dinter

The reigns of the Julio-Claudian emperors were characterized by murder and debauchery. This course presents a narrative of these reigns, ranging from Augustus to Nero, with passages in original Latin from Tacitus, Suetonius and Seneca. The texts accordingly exposes Augustus' adulterous affairs; the depraved Tiberius; the extravagance and madness of Caligula; the ineffective Claudius; and Nero's artistic pretensions. 

Our main aim will be to get to know The Latin of Taciuts, Suetonius and Seneca by translating and analysing their Latin.  We will revise specific grammar and syntax as it occurs in the text.

Core reading

You will be expected to purchase the text below:

From Augustus to Nero: An Intermediate Latin Reader, Ed. By Garrett G. Fagan, Murgatroyd, Cambridge University Press (2006) ISBN (pb) 9780521528047

2014-15, Pliny, Epistles Book II

Module convenor/tutor: Professor William Fitzgerald

The Romans invented the personal letter as we know it and we will be reading the whole of the second book of one of the most influential of Latin letter-writers, Pliny the Younger. These provide us with a fascinating glimpse of the concerns of an elite Roman in the age of the emperors Nerva and Trajan. Friendship, the proper relation between public and private, the nature of the good life and of heroism under the emperors—these are just some of the questions with which Pliny wrestles. The letter contain vivid anecdotes and character sketches and are a model of elegant Latin prose.

Our main aim will be to get to know Pliny's text by translating and analysing his Latin.  We will revise specific grammar and syntax as it occurs in the text.

Primary/introductory readings

Pliny the Younger, Epistles Book II, edited by Christopher Whitton, Cambridge University Press 2013.

You will need a Latin dictionary and a guide to Latin grammar and syntax, such as Kennedy’s Revised Latin Primer, Allen and Greenough’s New Latin Grammar. or the Oxford Latin Grammar. 

2013-14, Cicero, Latin Letters, selections

Module convenor/tutor: Dr Victoria Moul

Introduction to Latin Texts is a language course based on reading pieces of continuous Latin prose and verse. Unlike a textbook-based language course, LT01 (prose) and LT02 (verse) aim to develop your sense of Latin tone and style as well as to expand your vocabulary and fill any remaining gaps in your knowledge of Latin syntax. For the most part, the course will assume that you already have a good grasp of Latin grammar, and of most of the syntactical constructions (such as purpose clauses with ‘ut’, reported speech with the accusative and infinitive, and so on). Where we meet more difficult or unusual constructions, we will stop to go over them, and you will be asked to complete written exercises to consolidate your understanding.

Primary/introductory readings

Set readings

We will be reading a series of Latin letters by Cicero, Pliny and Seneca, the major letter writers of classical Latin; with a few shorter pieces of particular historical or stylistic interest (e.g. from Antony to Cicero and Virgil to Augustus). Those of you who take the companion module, LT02 next term, will be reading verse by Ovid (from the Amores) and Virgil (the Georgics). I have given below a list of our planned readings for this term, though note that we may read slightly more or less than this, depending on the speed of the group.

Readings from R. G. C. Levens, A Book of Latin Letters:

11: Cicero to Trebatius, Nov. 54

24: Balbus to Cicero, Mar 49

25: Antony to Cicero, April 49

26: Cicero to Terentia, Oct 47

48: Virgil to Augustus, 26 BC

49: Augustus to Horace, 13 BC

51: Seneca to Lucilius (28), 63 AD

52: Pliny to Tacitus, 97 AD

53: Pliny to Fundanus

54: Pliny to Severus

[possibly 63: Pliny to the Emperor Trajan – early Christians, 112 AD]

NB that we will not read them in this order (we will read the shortest letters, 26, 48 and 49, first)

You will be asked to prepare a letter or a portion of a letter in advance of each meeting. It is important that you do so thoroughly.

Books and resources

R. G. C. Levens, A Book of Latin Letters – this is out of print, so I shall provide photocopies of the relevant texts and the commentary. The book is however often available very cheaply second-hand on Amazon, and you may prefer to buy your own copy. Let me know if you have done so, so that I am not photocopying unnecessarily.

P. Ruth Taylor-Briggs, Via Plana: Graduate Readings in Advanced Latin (BCP, 2000) – Waterstone’s on Gower Street should have ordered plenty of copies of this; otherwise, it is readily available on Amazon. You should buy or order a copy as soon as possible.

You will also need to own, or have access to a good Latin dictionary (such as Lewis and Short, or the Oxford Latin Dictionary), as well as a grammar (such as Kennedy’s Revised Latin Primer) and a reference text on Latin syntax (whichever textbook you are most familiar with from school or university is probably fine).

2012-13, Sallust, Bellum Catilinae

Module convenor/tutor: Dr Emily Pillinger

The text for this course will be Sallust’s Bellum Catilinae (for the prescribed edition see Primary Reading below). The Bellum Catilinae is a historical work about the conspiracy of Catiline that occurred during Cicero’s consulship in 63 BCE. Famous for its vivid speeches and for its pessimistic portrayal of what the author sees as Rome’s general moral decline, Sallust’s perspective on the people and the political upheavals of late Republican Rome offers an interesting counterpart to Cicero’s writings on the same events.

Our main focus in this course will be on getting to know Sallust’s text by translating and analysing his Latin. We will revise and practise specific grammar constructions as they occur in the text. There will also be some opportunity to assess the work’s literary qualities and to discuss it in its historical context: we will consider why Sallust wrote about this particular event, how the Bellum Catilinae compares with other historical writings, and what the work tells us about the period it addresses.

Students are expected to attend all classes, and to participate fully in them. In addition to the classes, students should expect to spend several hours each week preparing the text, revising grammar, and doing a small amount of background reading.

Primary/introductory reading

  • Set text: Sallust’s Bellum Catilinae, edited, with introduction and commentary, by J. T. Ramsey, OUP 2007 (second edition).
  • Grammar revision: Via Plana: Graduated Readings in Advanced Latin, P. Ruth Taylor-Briggs, BCP 2000.
  • Be sure to have found a copy of both these books in good time for the beginning of term. 

Study aids:  It is important to own or have access to a good Latin dictionary. If you’re in the library use the Oxford Latin Dictionary or Lewis and Short (the latter can also be found online at the Perseus website). For everyday use you may like to buy a smaller dictionary such as the Pocket Oxford Latin Dictionary.                 

You will also need a guide to Latin grammar and syntax. Most Latin textbooks will have good sections on grammar and syntax, but you may find it useful to own a more systematic reference work. For grammar look out for Kennedy’s Revised Latin Primer, Allen and Greenough’s New Latin Grammar, or the Oxford Latin Grammar. For more on syntax specifically try Colebourn’s Latin Sentence and Idiom, or Woodcock’s New Latin Syntax.

Further reading: It would be helpful to have read Cicero’s speeches against Catiline in English before the beginning of term. 

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