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Level 6

6AACLT09 Latin Texts IX (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 2-hour seminars (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.)
Prerequisites: A pass in 4AACLA03 Latin Language 3 or a level 5 Latin text module, 5AACLT01-L04.

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 6 Latin text module, focusing on poetry. 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 knowledge of the context, content and themes of the set text(s), as well as translation ability.

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


2019/20, Tacitus, Agricola

Module tutor: Dr Martin Dinter

The first work of any great historian has always commanded attention, and Tacitus was ancient Rome's very greatest historian. His biography of his father-in-law, governor of Britain in the years AD 77-84, is a literary masterpiece: it combines penetrating political history with gripping military narrative and throughout poses the question (still very much alive today) of how one should live one's life under a tyranny. Tacitus' Agricola remains a key text for anyone with an interest in Roman Britain as well as ancient biography.

Set Text (purchase required)

The edition of Tacitus’ Agricola which we will be reading is part of the Cambridge Green and Latin Classics series (‘Green and Yellows’): Woodman, A. J. (ed.) (2014). Tacitus: Agricola. Cambridge. ISBN 9780521700290. Students should order a copy of this edition as early as possible, to ensure that they have it by the beginning of classes.

Further Readings

All secondary readings will be uploaded onto KEATS, wherel quizzes will be provided on that material. For a general guide to the Agricola, please see:

  • Ogilvie, R. M. (1991). ‘An Interim Report on Tacitus’ Agricola’, Aufstieg und Niedergang der Römischen Welt II 33.3: 1714-39. 


For an archaeological overview of Roman Britain during Agricola’s governorship, see:

  • Hanson, W. S. (1991). ‘Tacitus’ Agricola: An Archaeological and Historical Study’, Aufstieg und Niedergang der Römischen Welt II 33.3: 1741-84.   


2017-18, Apuleius, Cupid and Psyche (= Apuleius, Metamorphoses 4.28-6.24)

Module convenor/tutor: Dr Danielle Frisby & Giacomo Fedeli

The Metamorphoses but not THAT one. In this inset narrative at the centre of his groundbreaking Latin novel the Metamorphoses, Apuleius takes our minds, along with that of his internal audience Charitate, away from alarming predicaments with a tale of love, revenge and the perils of youthful curiosity. This is a text in the Alexandrian tradition, where sophisticated narrative games are played, and literary self-referentiality is high on the agenda. Alongside a detailed study of the text, we will consider: the use of myth and folk-tale; the significance of this text for the development of the romance novel; and the role of religious allegory and metaphor. The module will tackle the text in 10 two-hour sessions, and will be assessed by a 2hr exam comprising passages for translation and comment. 

Text and commentary: As there is no single edition with commentary ideal for student purposes, a text and commentary will be provided separately on KEATS. 

 Suggested reading:

  • Anderson, G. 1984. The novel in the Graeco-Roman world, Beckenham
  • Dowden, K. 1982. ‘Psyche on the rock’, Latomus 41: 336–52
  • *Graverini, L. 2006. ‘An old wife’s tale’, in W. Keulen (et al.), eds. Lectiones scrupulosae: essays on the text and interpretation of Apuleius’ Metamorphoses in Honour of M. Zimmerman (Groningen) 86–110
  • Harrison, S. J., ed. 1999. Oxford readings in the Roman novel, Oxford
  • *–– 2000. Apuleius: a Latin sophist, Oxford (esp. ch. 6)
  • James, P. 2001. ‘Kicking the habit: the significance of consuetudo in interpreting the fable of Cupid and Psyche’, Ramos 30: 152–68
  • Katz, P. B. 1976. ‘The myth of Psyche: a definition of the nature of the feminine?’, Arethusa 9: 111–18
  • *Kenney, E. J. 1990. ‘Psyche and her mysterious husband’, in D. A. Russell, ed. Antonine literature (Oxford), 175–98
  • Panayotakis, C. 2001. ‘Vision and light in Apuleius’ tale of Psyche and her mysterious husband’, CQ 51: 576–83
  • *Papaïoannou, S. 1998. ‘Charite’s rape, Psyche on the rock and the parallel function of marriage in Apuleius’ Metamorphoses’, Mnemosyne 51: 302–24
  • Parker, S. and P. Murgatroyd. 2002. ‘Love poetry and Apuleius’ Cupid and Psyche’, CQ 52: 400–4
  • *Penwill, J. L. 1975. ‘Slavish pleasures and profitless curiosity. Fall and redemption in Apuleius’ Metamorphoses’, Ramus 4: 49–82
  • –– 1998. ‘Reflections on a ‘happy ending’: the case of Cupid and Psyche’, Ramus 27: 160–82
  • Schlam, C. G. 1976. Cupid and Psyche: Apuleius and the monuments, Pennsylvania
  • –– 1978. ‘Sex and sanctity: the relationship of male and female in the Metamorphoses’, in B. L. Hijmans Jr and R. T. van der Paardt, eds. Aspects of Apuleius’ Golden Ass [Volume I] (Groningen) 95–105
  • Stabryla, S. 1973. ‘The functions of the tale of Cupid and Psyche in the structure of the Metamorphoses of Apuleius’, Eos 61: 261–72
  • Swahn, J. Ö. 1955. The tale of Cupid and Psyche, Lund.
  • *Walsh, P. G. 1970. The Roman novel, Cambridge.
  • Winkler, J. J. 1985. Auctor and actor: a narratological reading of Apuleius’ Golden Ass, Berkeley 
  • Wright, J. R. G. 1971. ‘Folk-tale and literary technique in Cupid and Psyche’, CQ 21: 273–84
  • Zimmerman, M. (et al.), eds. 1998. Aspects of Apuleius’ Golden Ass: Volume II: Cupid and Pscyhe (esp. chapters of O’Brien, Smith and Mattiacci)

2015-16, Suetonius, Life of Claudius

Module convenor/tutor: Dr Martin Dinter

Claudius, who ruled from AD 41 to 54, is presented in the literary sources as dominated by his wives and freedmen, but he was also a scholar and a shrewd administrator.  By studying Claudius and his reign we gain insight into what it meant to be an emperor and into Romans' expectations of their emperors. 

Texts studied include Suetonius' life of Claudius (in Latin), Tacitus, Annals Books 11-12 (Penguin Classics Tacitus, The Annals of Imperial Rome pp. 231-283, in trl.); Tacitus' account of the first part of Claudius' reign (AD41-46) is lost, and for this period our principal historical account is that of Cassius Dio; moreover we have a great satirical source with Seneca’s Apocolocyntosis. Translations of Tacitus, Dio and Seneca will be provided in class.

Set Text

  • All students will need to purchase a copy of  Donna Hurley (ed.), Suetonius: Divus Claudius. Text and commentary. Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press, 2001.
  • 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. 

Suggested Introductory Readings

This is suggested reading and purchase of these books is not mandatory.

  • For general introductions to Claudius and the early Principate see especially Wells, The Roman Empire ch. 5 (2nd ed. Harvard 1995), and Alston, Aspects of Roman History AD 14-117, ch. 4.  (2nd. Revised edition, Routledge 2014). 
  • J. Osgood, Claudius Caesar (Cambridge 2011) and  B. Levick, Claudius (London, 1990), are the best and most up-to-date accounts of the life of Claudius. 
  • See also Levick's article 'Claudius: antiquarian or revolutionary', in American Journal of Philology 99 (1978), 79-105. 
  • For earlier accounts of the emperor see A. Momigliano, Claudius: The Emperor and his Achievement (Oxford, 1934; repr. Cambridge, 1961); V. Scramuzza, The Emperor Claudius (Cambridge, Mass., 1940).
  • On Tacitus' account of Claudius see especially, R. Martin, Tacitus (London, 1981), ch. 6. For other studies of Tacitus see Mellor, The Roman Historians (Routledge 1999) ch. 4; Kraus and Woodman, Latin Historians (Oxford 1997) ch. 5.

2013-14, Tacitus, Annals, Book IV

Module convenor/tutor: Dr Emily Pillinger

As a historian Tacitus combines devastating critique of the past with stylistic fireworks. In this module we will read book IV of his Annals. In this book Tacitus allows himself full rein to describe the five years in the 20s CE in which an increasingly malevolent Tiberius tightens his grip on Roman society, with the encouragement of his malicious sidekick Sejanus.

In the classes for this module we will combine close analysis of Tacitus’ Latin with some broader discussion of his historiographical technique. Can we establish how trustworthy this account of Tiberius’ reign really is?

Set Text

  • Tacitus: Annals IV, ed. R. H. Martin and A. J. Woodman (Cambridge 1990)


It will be useful for you to have a translation of the rest of the Annals so that you can contextualise what we are reading in this module. For its effort to replicate Tacitus’ style and its useful historical notes I highly recommend Tacitus, The Annals, translated, with introduction and notes by A. J. Woodman (Hackett 2004).

2011-12, Tacitus, Annals, Book IV

Module convenor/tutorDr Victoria Moul

Set Text

  • The set text for this year is Tacitus, Annals, Book IV.
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