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COURSE NAME: "Literature and Society in Ancient Rome"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Fall 2019

INSTRUCTOR: Massimo Betello
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: MW 1:30-2:45 PM
PREREQUISITES: Prerequisite: EN 110 with a grade of C or above *This class can substitute for one of the two EN LIT general distribution required courses. The other EN LIT course must have the EN prefix*

This course focuses on the literature of Ancient Rome and its role in shaping modern notions about the customs, social practices, and ideas of its citizens. Emphasis will be placed on using Roman literature as a means of studying Roman civilization, while simultaneously examining stylistics and literary techniques particular to the genres of comedy, rhetoric, epic and lyric poetry, satire and history. Texts, which vary, are chosen from Terence, Plautus, Cicero, Catullus, Virgil, Horace, Ovid, Tacitus, and Juvenal. All texts are studied in translation.
This reading-intensive course will present a general history of Latin Literature from its Republican beginning to its late imperial phase.
The course will analyze and discuss authors and topics in a chronological order: a selection of the most representatives Latin authors will be read in translation, and modern scholarly literature will be used to follow the evolution and to comment on the different literary genres.
In particular, students taking this course will study:
* the nature of the different types of literature (history, epic, elegy, satire, etc.)
* the most representative authors for each literary genre
* origins and evolution, establishment and expansion, innovations and contraction in Latin literature through time
* the Romans’ attitude towards Greek literature and their development of a self- conscious national literature
* the complex interaction between literature and politics
* the influence of Latin literature and its themes in the modern age
* how literature is the production of the society of its time
At the end of this course, students are expected to be able to:
* trace the evolution of the history of Latin literature (authors, works, genres, trends, developments).
* discuss the different literary genres
* describe the life and literary production of the most representative authors per genre
* evaluate differences, similarities and influences among the genres and authors studied
* relate each literary work with the historical, social, political and cultural context in which it  was produced
In addition the students will:
* have increased the ability to read and comprehend complicated texts
* have broadened the terminology necessary to discuss literature
* have improved writing skills
* have improved the ability to summarize complex concepts in a simple and meaningful way
* have the ability to discuss the relevance (or lack thereof) of Latin literature in the modern age, either as a source of inspiration or as an empty pursuit.

Readings and Classroom participationStudents are asked to complete the readings before coming to class. Questions, responses, presence and attentive attitude are expected on a consistent basis: without the readings these are hardly achievable.15
One PresentationEach students will present one topic that is already part of the course program (works/author/genre). The presentation is intended to foster retention, increase the ability to summarize complex topics, and develop literary analysis. Format: 15 minute presentation on dates TBA. More guidelines to follow. The late submission policy does not apply.15
Midterm examDate: see schedule. The topics tested will be those of the first half of the semester. Format: TBA The late submission policy does not apply.20
Final examDate: TBA The topics tested will be those of the second half of the semester only. The final exam is not cumulative. Format: TBA Please, do not make travel plans until the dates of the final exams will be released. The late submission policy does not apply.20
Final Analytical paperEach student will select a topic that is NOT part of the course program and will write an analytic paper on it. The topic needs to be pre-approved by the professor. The late submission policy applies. Guidelines: TBA30

AWork of this quality directly addresses the question or problem raised and provides a coherent argument displaying an extensive knowledge of relevant information or content. This type of work demonstrates the ability to critically evaluate concepts and theory and has an element of novelty and originality. There is clear evidence of a significant amount of reading beyond that required for the course.
BThis is highly competent level of performance and directly addresses the question or problem raised.There is a demonstration of some ability to critically evaluatetheory and concepts and relate them to practice. Discussions reflect the student’s own arguments and are not simply a repetition of standard lecture andreference material. The work does not suffer from any major errors or omissions and provides evidence of reading beyond the required assignments.
CThis is an acceptable level of performance and provides answers that are clear but limited, reflecting the information offered in the lectures and reference readings.
DThis level of performances demonstrates that the student lacks a coherent grasp of the material.Important information is omitted and irrelevant points included.In effect, the student has barely done enough to persuade the instructor that s/he should not fail.
FThis work fails to show any knowledge or understanding of the issues raised in the question. Most of the material in the answer is irrelevant.


You cannot make-up a major exam (midterm or final) without the permission of the Dean’s Office. The Dean’s Office will grant such permission only when the absence was caused by a serious impediment, such as a documented illness, hospitalization or death in the immediate family (in which you must attend the funeral) or other situations of similar gravity. Absences due to other meaningful conflicts, such as job interviews, family celebrations, travel difficulties, student misunderstandings or personal convenience, will not be excused. Students who will be absent from a major exam must notify the Dean’s Office prior to that exam. Absences from class due to the observance of a religious holiday will normally be excused. Individual students who will have to miss class to observe a religious holiday should notify the instructor by the end of the Add/Drop period to make prior arrangements for making up any work that will be missed. The final exam period runs until ____________
As stated in the university catalog, any student who commits an act of academic dishonesty will receive a failing grade on the work in which the dishonesty occurred. In addition, acts of academic dishonesty, irrespective of the weight of the assignment, may result in the student receiving a failing grade in the course. Instances of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean of Academic Affairs. A student who is reported twice for academic dishonesty is subject to summary dismissal from the University. In such a case, the Academic Council will then make a recommendation to the President, who will make the final decision.
John Cabot University does not discriminate on the basis of disability or handicap. Students with approved accommodations must inform their professors at the beginning of the term. Please see the website for the complete policy.





01 week


Review of syllabus

The beginning of Latin Literature and society

Chapters 1 and 2

02 week


Plautus and Terence


03 week


Lucretius and Catullus


04 week


Cicero and Sallust


05 week


Caesar and Cicero


06 week


Vergil (Georgic and Aeneid)


07 week



08 week


Ovid and Horace


09 week


Livy and Pliny the Elder


10 week


Seneca, Josephus


11 week


Martial and Juvenal


12 week


Pliny, Tacitus, Seutonius


13 week


Apuleius and Marcus Aurelius



14 week

Conclusions and Review.