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Latin Literature   By: (1859-1945)

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J. W. MACKAIL, Sometime Fellow of Balliol College, Oxford

A history of Latin Literature was to have been written for this series of Manuals by the late Professor William Sellar. After his death I was asked, as one of his old pupils, to carry out the work which he had undertaken; and this book is now offered as a last tribute to the memory of my dear friend and master. J. W. M.



I. ORIGINS OF LATIN LITERATURE: EARLY EPIC AND TRAGEDY. Andronicus Naevius Ennius Pacuvius Accius II. COMEDY: PLAUTUS AND TERENCE. III. EARLY PROSE: THE SATURA, OR MIXED MODE. The Early Jurists, Annalists, and Orators Cato The Scipionic Circle Lucilius IV. LUCRETIUS. V. LYRIC POETRY: CATULLUS. Cinna and Calvus Catullus VI. CICERO. VII. PROSE OF THE CICERONIAN AGE. Julius Caesar The Continuators of the Commentaries Sallust Nepos Varro Publilius Syrus


I. VIRGIL. II. HORACE. III. PROPERTIUS AND THE ELEGISTS. Augustan Tragedy Gallus Propertius Tibullus IV. OVID. Sulpicia Ovid V. LIVY. VI. THE LESSER AUGUSTANS. Manilius Phaedrus Velleius Paterculus Celsus Vitruvius The Elder Seneca


I. THE ROME OF NERO. The Younger Seneca Lucan Persius Quintus Curtius Columella Calpurnius Petronius II. THE SILVER AGE. Statius Valerius Flaccus Silius Italicus Martial The Elder Pliny Quintilian III. TACITUS. IV. JUVENAL, THE YOUNGER PLINY, SUETONIUS: DECAY OF CLASSICAL LATIN. V. THE ELOCUTIO NOVELLA. Fronto Apuleius The Pervigilium Veneris VI. EARLY LATIN CHRISTIANITY. Minucius Felix Tertullian Cyprian Arnobius Lactantius Commodianus VII. THE FOURTH CENTURY. Papinian and Ulpian Sammonicus Nemesianus Tiberianus The Augustan History Ausonius Claudian Prudentius Ammianus Marcellinus VIII. THE BEGINNINGS OF THE MIDDLE AGES. The End of the Ancient World The Four Periods of Latin Literature The Empire and the Church






To the Romans themselves, as they looked back two hundred years later, the beginnings of a real literature seemed definitely fixed in the generation which passed between the first and second Punic Wars. The peace of B.C. 241 closed an epoch throughout which the Roman Republic had been fighting for an assured place in the group of powers which controlled the Mediterranean world. This was now gained; and the pressure of Carthage once removed, Rome was left free to follow the natural expansion of her colonies and her commerce. Wealth and peace are comparative terms; it was in such wealth and peace as the cessation of the long and exhausting war with Carthage brought, that a leisured class began to form itself at Rome, which not only could take a certain interest in Greek literature, but felt in an indistinct way that it was their duty, as representing one of the great civilised powers, to have a substantial national culture of their own.

That this new Latin literature must be based on that of Greece, went without saying; it was almost equally inevitable that its earliest forms should be in the shape of translations from that body of Greek poetry, epic and dramatic, which had for long established itself through all the Greek speaking world as a common basis of culture. Latin literature, though artificial in a fuller sense than that of some other nations, did not escape the general law of all literatures, that they must begin by verse before they can go on to prose.

Up to this date, native Latin poetry had been confined, so far as we can judge, to hymns and ballads, both of a rude nature. Alongside of these were the popular festival performances, containing the germs of a drama. If the words of these performances were ever written down (which is rather more than doubtful), they would help to make the notion of translating a regular Greek play come more easily... Continue reading book >>

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