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Latin Literature   By: (1859-1945)

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Latin Literature by J. W. Mackail offers a comprehensive and engaging introduction to the vast world of Latin literary works. As an esteemed classicist and scholar, Mackail delivers an insightful examination of prominent Latin authors and their significant contributions to Western literature.

From the outset, Mackail showcases his expertise through a clear and well-structured framework that allows readers to navigate the extensive chronological range of Latin literature seamlessly. Covering a vast timeline from the beginnings of Roman literature to the early Christian era, he successfully manages to condense centuries of literary development into a concise and compelling narrative.

One of the book's strengths lies in Mackail's ability to not only discuss individual authors and their works but also provide historical and cultural context. By elucidating the social, political, and intellectual milieu in which these authors wrote, Mackail allows readers to understand the broader influences that shaped Latin literature. This approach adds depth to the exploration of individual works, offering a more holistic understanding of their significance.

Mackail's writing style is both erudite and accessible, making Latin Literature suitable for both scholars and general readers with an interest in the subject. Through clear explanations and engaging analyses, he manages to make even the most complex aspects of Latin literature understandable and enjoyable.

Furthermore, the book includes ample quotations from various Latin texts, showcasing the authors' literary prowess and exemplifying the discussed themes and techniques. These excerpts not only serve as evidence of Mackail's assertions but also provide readers with a taste of the beauty and richness of Latin literature.

However, one slight drawback of the book is its limited coverage of lesser-known authors and works. While Mackail devotes considerable attention to celebrated figures such as Virgil, Ovid, and Cicero, some readers may find themselves craving more extensive insights into the often-overlooked corners of Latin literature. Nonetheless, this omission is understandable considering the ambitious scope of the book.

Overall, Latin Literature by J. W. Mackail is an exceptional resource for anyone seeking an introduction or a refresher on the vast world of Latin literary works. Mackail's expert knowledge, engaging writing style, and ability to situate the texts within their historical context make this book a valuable addition to any library. Whether you are a seasoned classicist or an interested reader, this book will undoubtedly deepen your understanding and appreciation of Latin literature's enduring legacy.

First Page:



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

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