A Companion to Latin Literature (Blackwell Companions to the by Stephen Harrison

By Stephen Harrison

A better half to Latin Literature offers an authoritative account of Latin literature from its beginnings within the 3rd century BC via to the top of the second one century advert.

• offers specialist review of the most sessions of Latin literary historical past, significant genres, and key subject matters
• Covers the entire significant Latin works of prose and poetry, from Ennius to Augustine, together with Lucretius, Cicero, Catullus, Livy, Vergil, Seneca, and Apuleius
• contains priceless reference fabric – dictionary entries on authors, chronological chart of political and literary historical past, and an annotated bibliography
• Serves as either a discursive literary background and a normal reference book

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But such interpretations are hard to sustain against a close study of the texts, and the tendency in recent scholarship has been to move away from them, and instead to view the works in a less narrowly partisan way. This is not to suggest that they are apolitical: only that their politics are not best seen as the expressions of personal partisanship that Cicero’s writings might lead one to expect. 2004 4:05am page 35 The Late Republican/Triumviral Period: 90–40 BC 35 But this, once recognized, takes us to a further question: is the literature of the late Republic in fact distinctively political at all?

Sest. 123; cf. Div. 43–5). 2004 4:05am page 24 Sander M. Goldberg the lexical oddities they supplied for ancient grammarians. Their lack of Greek origin denied them the cultural authority of tragedy and comedy. They were also too closely tied to the politics of praise, as some famous testimony of Cato confirms. At the beginning of the Tusculan Disputations, Cicero supports his claim that Romans have equalled the achievements of Greek culture by pointing to the success of Latin poetry, which rivals the Greek despite its late start: Sero igitur a nostris poetae vel cogniti vel recepti.

Literature thus provided a tool for the educated class to define and maintain its social position. How this idea of literature took hold among the Romans and how individual works acquired positions of privilege in an emerging canon are especially important questions for the study of early texts because they became ‘literature’ only in retrospect as readers preserved them, established their value and made them part of an emerging civic identity. The Republican literature we traditionally call ‘early’ is not just a product of the mid-Republic, when poetic texts began to circulate, but also of the late Republic, when those texts were first systematically collected, studied, canonized and put to new social and artistic uses.

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