Latin Literature Survey Course: Introduction    Week 1


Part 1: How does Augustan (or any classical Latin) literature get to us?


Useful works

M.L.West, Textual Criticism and Editorial Technique (1973) [how-to manual]

L. D. Reynolds and N. G. Wilson, Scribes and Scholars: A Guide to the Transmission of Greek and Latin Literature [4th ed] (2013) [cultural history of transmission plus practical examples]

L.D.Reynolds, M.D.Reeve  et al., Texts and Transmission: A Survey of the Latin Classics (1983)

[standard reference for the textual transmission of all major Latin authors]

M.D.Reeve, Manuscripts and Method: Essays on Editing and Transmission (2011)

[collected papers of a modern master, sceptical about overriding theories, printed editions]


Tasks of an editor (West)

Collect the material (transcription of manuscripts)

Work out its nature (stemma if possible; open/closed tradition; elimination? Lachmann model?)

Setting up an apparatus criticus (positive or negative?)

Diagnosis and correction of problems (emendation)


Apparatus criticus: Horace Odes 2.1.19-24

Positive [vulgate and variants]

    iam fulgor armorum fugacis

       terret equos equitumque uultus.    20

audire magnos iam uideor duces

non indecoro puluere sordidos

     et cuncta terrarum subacta

        praeter atrocem animum Catonis.

20 uultus MSS; pectus Harrison

21 audire MSS; uidere Beroaldus

Negative [only variants]

    iam fulgor armorum fugacis

       terret equos equitumque uultus.    20

audire magnos iam uideor duces

non indecoro puluere sordidos

     et cuncta terrarum subacta

        praeter atrocem animum Catonis.

20 pectus Harrison

21 uidere Beroaldus

Issues of clarity?


Considerations when deciding between readings


E. J. Kenney, The Classical Text (1974) 142 n. 2: ‘the fallibility of hard-and-fast rules [has been neatly demonstrated] by reducing the principles guiding choice between variants to the single tautology lectio melior potior.’ He then asks ‘Is textual criticism an art, τέχνη, or a mere knack, μπειρία?’ (143).


 R. Bentley (1711) ad Hor. c. 3.27.15: ‘Nobis et ratio et res ipsa centum codicibus potiores sunt, praesertim accedente Vaticani veteris suffragio.’


‘If the sense requires it, I am prepared to write Constantinopolitanus where the manuscripts have the monosyllabic interjection o.’ [Haupt apud Housman, cited approvingly by West]


A reading which is to be accepted must meet the following requirements (cf. West (1973) 48):


i)       it must correspond in sense to what the context demands;


ii)     it must correspond to the language, style, and other technical requirements (e.g. metre) of the text involved;


iii) there must be a reasonable explanation of how it became corrupted.

Some errors in MSS from Catullus (OGR = all the medieval MSS)


(i)  Dittography


Catullus 14.13-14   quem tu scilicet ad tuum Catullum    Which you clearly sent to your Catullus

                                  misti, continuo ut die periret                          That he might perish at once that day


misti anon., 1460; misisti OGR (MSS wrongly add unmetrical, normalising syllable)


(ii)  Haplography


Catullus 17.3          crura ponticuli axulis stantis in redivivis

                               The legs of a small bridge standing on reused timbers


stantis   Hand;   tantis OGR (MSS wrongly lose the second 's' after axulis)


(iii)  Lacunae


Catullus 30.7 (one word), 34.3 (one line), 39.9 (one word), 39.17 (one word), 51.8 (one line), 61.78 (one stanza), 62.32 (a number of lines)


(iv)  Assimilation


Catullus 23.1         Furi, cui neque servus est neque arca   Furius, who has neither slave nor chest…


servus X ; servo O  (O wrongly changes servus to dative, agreeing with cui)


Some Critical Principles


(i) utrum in alterum abiturum erat (i.e. which of the two readings is more likely to be corrupted into the other)

 (ii)  lectio difficilior potius (preference for the harder reading)

(iii) lectio facilior potius (preference for the easier reading)


Examples in practice


(i) Catullus 3.11


qui nunc it per iter tenebricosum              who now passes through the journey of shadows


tenebrosum OGR; tenebricosum Parthenius. MSS transmit the normal Latin form, unmetrical; the conjecture restores metre and a select Ciceronian form  (4x in Cicero).


(ii)   Catullus 32.5


ne quis liminis obseret tabellam                in case anyone opens up the panel of your doorway


luminis O ; liminis GR. Latin but weird. Sense should prevail.


(iii)  Catullus  22.8


derecta plumbo et punice omnia aequata           ruled off with lead and all flattened with pumice


derecta Statius; detecta OGR

For the exchange of 'r' and 't' cf. e.g. Catullus 36.19 pleni ruris (turis OGR). Sense again.


(iv)   Catullus 13.9


Sed contra accipies meros amores                      but in return you will receive 100% love


meros GR; meos O


For the error meus/merus cf. Catullus 17.21 meus stupor OGR; merus Passerat, recte (better)


(v)  Catullus 64.324

O reads:                             Emathiae tu tum opus, carissime nato

                                          (tum clearly a misread abbreviation for tamen)

                                         ‘you then, work of Thessaly, most dear to your son’

GR read:                            Emathiae tu tamen opis, carissime nato

                                           (scribe does not know word tutamen)

                                         ‘you however, part of the Thessalian might, most dear to your son’


Editors read until 1915:   Emathiae tutamen opis, clarissime nato

‘protection of the Thessalian might, most famed for your son’

(but Achilles still unborn)


Housman reads:                 Emathiae tutamen, Opis carissime nato

   (CQ 9 (1915) 229-30 = Collected Papers III.913-4)

‘protection of Thessaly, most dear to the son of Ops’ [Jupiter]


Recent experience of editing Vergil and Ovid:

G.B.Conte, Ope Ingenii: Experiences of Textual Criticism (2013) [chapters on punctuation, interpolation, and conjecture]

G.B.Conte, Critical Notes on Virgil (2016) [from his Teubner Georgics and Aeneid]

R.J.Tarrant, Texts, editors, and readers: Methods and problems in Latin textual criticism (2016)

[from his 2004 OCT of Ovid’s Metamorphoses; ‘heroic’ and modest editing, interpolation, conjecture]

R.J.Tarrant in Hunter (R.), Oakley (S.P.) (edd.) Latin Literature and its Transmission (2016)

[manifesto for new OCT of Horace]


Examples from Vergil – why was the variant chosen?


Aeneid 10.270-1 (Aeneas’ helmet blazes):

ardet apex capiti tristisque a uertice flamma     270

funditur et uastos umbo uomit aureus ignis:


270 tristisque Faernus, Conte  ; cristisque MSS


Aeneid 10.362-8 (Pallas urges on his men):

At parte ex alia, qua saxa rotantia late

intulerat torrens arbustaque diruta ripis,

Arcadas insuetos acies inferre pedestris

ut vidit Pallas Latio dare terga sequaci,               365

aspera quis natura loci dimittere quando

suasit equos, unum quod rebus restat egenis,

nunc prece, nunc dictis virtutem accendit amaris


366 aspera quis MR; aspera quos P; aspera aquis Madvig     

366 quando MSS; tandem Harrison        



Aeneid 10.803-10

ac uelut effusa si quando grandine nimbi           

praecipitant, omnis campis diffugit arator        

omnis et agricola, et tuta latet arce uiator         805

aut amnis ripis aut alti fornice saxi,        

dum pluit in terris, ut possint sole reducto         

exercere diem: sic obrutus undique telis

Aeneas nubem belli, dum detonet omnis,           



805 arce e; arte other MSS, ancient commentators


Aeneid 2.445-6

Dardanidae contra turris ac tota domorum               445

culmina convellunt;


Tota defended by Horsfall as hyperbole: try atque alta (cf. 2.290 ruit alto a culmine Troia) ?


Aeneid 6.185-91

atque haec ipse suo tristi cum corde volutat                185

aspectans silvam immensam, et sic forte precatur:

'si nunc se nobis ille aureus arbore ramus

ostendat nemore in tanto! quando omnia vere

heu nimium de te vates, Misene, locuta est.'

vix ea fatus erat, geminae cum forte columbae               190

ipsa sub ora viri caelo venere volantes…


 Conte defends forte (MP) at 6.186 (but note its repetition at 190 in the same metrical position) as indicating that Aeneas is ‘subita ac fortuita cogitatione occupatus’ seems strained – try R’s uoce (cf. 9.403 sic uoce precatur) or sponte  (an instant reaction to the situation)?


Examples from Horace – are the suggestions better than the transmitted text?


Odes 1.31.1-8 (non-offerings to Apollo):

Quid dedicatum poscit Apollinem

   vates ? quid orat de patera novum

      fundens liquorem ? non opimae

        Sardiniae segetes feraces,

non aestuosae grata Calabriae

    armenta, non aurum aut ebur Indicum,

       non rura quae Liris quieta

          mordet aqua taciturnus amnis.


5 grata MSS; Graia Peerlkamp, laeta Harrison


Odes 3.30.10-14 (Horace the bringer of Greek lyric to Italy):

dicar, qua uiolens obstrepit Aufidus

et qua pauper aquae Daunus agrestium

regnauit populorum, ex humili potens

princeps Aeolium carmen ad Italos

deduxisse modos.


4-5  Aeolios carmen ad Italum | deduxisse modos Fuss, Aeolium carmen ad Italas | deduxisse domos  Harrison


Epistles 1.2.9-22 (the moral lessons of Homer):

rursus Antenor censet belli praecidere causam;

quid Paris? Ut saluus regnet uiuatque beatus                10

cogi posse negat. Nestor componere litis

inter Pelidem festinat et inter Atriden;

hunc amor, ira quidem communiter urit utrumque.

quidquid delirant reges, plectuntur Achiui.

seditione, dolis, scelere atque libidine et ira                    15

Iliacos intra muros peccatur et extra.

rursus, quid uirtus et quid sapientia possit,

utile proposuit nobis exemplar Ulixen,

qui domitor Troiae multorum prouidus urbes,

et mores hominum inspexit, latumque per aequor,       20

dum sibi, dum sociis reditum parat, aspera multa

pertulit, aduersis rerum inmersabilis undis.


18 Ulixes Harrison [subject of proposuit ?]


Odes 2.8.18-24

adde quod pubes tibi crescit omnis,

seruitus crescit noua nec priores

impiae tectum dominae relinquunt

     saepe minati.                                           20

te suis matres metuunt iuuencis,

te senes parci miseraeque nuper

uirgines nuptae, tua ne retardet

     aura maritos.


18 crescit MSS; ut sit Lehrs

[cf. 1.19.5-7 urit me Glycera nitor |…|urit grata proteruitas]


Odes 2.1.19-24 [above!]

    iam fulgor armorum fugacis

       terret equos equitumque uultus.    20

audire magnos iam uideor duces

non indecoro puluere sordidos

     et cuncta terrarum subacta

        praeter atrocem animum Catonis.


20 uultus MSS; pectus Harrison

21 audire MSS; uidere Beroaldus


20 terret equos equitumque uultus: is uultus (a) nominative singular and a further subject of terret parallel with fulgor (for the sense-construction see e.g. 1.13.6) or (b) accusative plural and a further object of terret, parallel with equos (supported by Enn. Ann.256 Sk. equorum equitumque magister)? Like N-H I find it hard to separate equos equitumque as referring to two different sides in battle as (a) requires, even if (a) is partly supported by the terror-inspiring capacity of charging cavalry (cf. e.g. Livy 6.12.10, 8.39.8); this would indeed be a ‘startling zeugma’ (West), and it is hard to see how the features of horses (as opposed to those of warriors: cf. 1.2.39-40 acer … | uultus in hostem) can arouse fear. This leaves (b): the features of soldiers can express terror in battle, indeed (cf. Silius 8.333 in uultus micat undique terror), but uultus makes a somewhat odd object of terret; we might expect something which is the seat not the vehicle of fear. It is worth considering whether uultus is a corruption of a similarly shaped noun. pectus would give precisely the right sense; for the pectus as the seat of fear see Ep. 2.1.211-12 poeta meum qui pectus inaniter angit, | inritat, mulcet, falsis terroribus implet, TLL X.1.914.18-29, and for terreo with a psychological object in a similar context cf. Livy 8.39.4 clamorSamnitium terruit animos. The reference here seems to be general rather than to any particular context of battle.

            21 audire … iam uideor: N-H adopt the conjecture uidere (Beroaldus, Bentley independently) for audire, on the grounds that uidereuideor is a much more natural phrase with magnos duces as object, but cf. Plaut. Aul. 811 uocem hic loquentis modo mi audire uisus sum.   Further, if Pollio’s historical work is to be imagined as analogous to the performance of his tragedies (17-19), the difficulty of audire vanishes; the synaesthesia of sound and vision is of course natural for staged drama.


Part 2: preliminaries to studying  Augustan literature


KEY LITERARY EVENTS                                          KEY HISTORICAL EVENTS

?38 BCE    Virgil’s Eclogues published

35   BCE    Horace Satires 1 published

30   BCE    Horace, Satires 2 and Epodes                 published

30’s – 9  BCE Livy’s history published

29 BCE      Virgil, Georgics published

20’s BC     Earliest elegies of Propertius,

                  Tibullus and (later) Ovid  


?23 BCE     Horace Odes 1-3 published

?19BCE      Deaths of Virgil and Tibullus

?16 BCE     Propertius Book 4 published

13 BCE       Horace Odes 4 published

8 BCE         Death of Horace

8 CE         Ovid banished to Romania


38-36     Renewed civil war against S.Pompey

32-30    Caesar fights and defeats Antony and Cleopatra at Actium and Alexandria

29        Triple triumph of Caesar

27        ‘Restoration of republic’ : Caesar

             assumes title of ‘Augustus’

18-17    Moral legislation of Augustus

17             Augustus celebrates Saecular      Games

12       Augustus becomes pontifex 

           maximus (head of state religion)

4 CE  Tiberius becomes final heir

            of  Augustus

14 CE Death of Augustus, succession

             of Tiberius


Key issues emerging from historical context


  1. dealing with current/recent civil wars and the emergent victor Caesar/Augustus
  2. rhetoric of moral, religious and cultural renewal (cf. Res Gestae)
  3. can poetry be apolitical even in ‘apolitical’ genres?
  4. interaction with the Greek world (Alexandria); literature and monarchy
  5. dynasty and succession to Augustus


R.A.Gurval, Actium and Augustus: The Politics and Emotions of Civil War (1995)

J.F.Miller, Apollo, Augustus and the Poets (2009)


The role of Maecenas


How far was he a mediator between princeps and poets?

How far do poets’ work addressed to M reflect his unusual character?

Is he eventually replaced by Augustus’ own presence (NB largely absent in 20s BCE).

White, P. 1991. ‘Maecenas’ Retirement’, CPh 86: 130–8.

Williams, G. 1990. ‘Did Maecenas “Fall from Favor”? Augustan Literary

Patronage’, in K. Raaflaub and M. Toher (eds.), Between Republic and

Empire. Interpretations of Augustus and His Principate. Berkeley, CA/London,

University of California Press: 258–75.


The iceberg effect of patchy transmission


1.      Clearly we have only a small fraction of Augustan literature

[for poetic losses see e.g. E.Courtney, Fragmentary Latin Poets, 1993]

2.      particular losses: most prose except a section of Livy (~35 books of 142), Vitruvius, drama [for history see The Fragments of the Roman Historians, 2015, for drama see e.g. J.Griffin, Latin Poets and Roman Life, 1985]. Latin intermediaries for Greek tragedy?

3.      Amongst the poets at least we seem to have most of the leading figures

[cf. Horace Sat.1.10.40-45; Propertius 2.34.61-94; Ovid Amores 1.15.19-30]

Some important lost texts: Varius, epic (Panegyricus Augusti? Horace Odes 1.6.1, Sat.1.10.43-44), tragedy Thyestes (Odes 1.6.8); Varro Atacinus, Argonautica (Propertius 2.34.85-6, Ovid Amores 1.15.21-2; fragments cited by Macrobius). Important fragments of lost authors can turn up in papyri (Gallus in 1978, see later).

20C Scholarship on Augustan literature: a partial survey

A prophetic work

W.Kroll, Studien zum Verständnis der romischen Literatur (1924)

1. Romans and Greeks                                                         Williams         1968

2. Poetic creation (including Callimachus)                        Williams         1968

3. The material of poetry

4. The moralising conception of poetry                             Williams         1968

5. Grammatical/rhetorical theories

6. Poets and critics

7. Imitation                                                                            everyone

8. Didactic poetry                                                                

9. The crossing of genres                                                     Conte, Harrison       

10. The poetic book

11. Poetic language                                                               Williams         1968

12. Incapacity in observation [realism]                            Williams         1968

13. Scholarship and pseudo-scholarship                          

14. Historiography


Allusion and intertextuality – the rehabilitation of ‘unoriginality’

G.Pasquali, ‘Arte Allusiva’, L’Italia che scrive, XXV (1942), pp. 11-20

[republished 1951 in his Stravaganze quarte e supreme].  Mario Citroni, ‘Arte Allusiva: Pasquali and Onward’ in Brill’s Companion to Callimachus (2011), 566-86:

‘Pasquali’s “Arte allusiva” presupposes the contemporary philological debate, especially in Germany, about the originality of Latin poetry. The theoretical aspect of the question, i.e. that works admittedly modelled on other works may possess their own artistic quality, had been widely discussed by the Italian school of aesthetics [Benedetto Croce]. Pasquali’s article combines these debates in an original approach. He grants to allusion the full dignity of an artistic process with its own specific prerogatives: allusion evokes a different, more ancient world in a modern text, and thus confronts tradition, recovering and reforming it for a contemporary setting. Allusion appears as peculiar to a production that confronts its own present with a past of artistic traditions possessing a marked significance for authors and public, typically the case for Hellenistic poetry and all Latin literature. Recent theories of intertextuality, and the intertextual analysis conducted today on ancient texts often make reference to Pasquali, reinterpreting the positions that he elaborated in different paths, which are here identified and briefly described.’


Some more key works

E.Fraenkel, Horace (1957)

Greek influence; Biographical interpretation; dialogue with Wilamowitz (Sappho und Simonides, 1913).Political admiration for Augustus (contrast Syme, Roman Revolution, 1939).

W.Wimmel, Kallimachos in Rom (1960). 

Makes use of the rediscovery of Callimachus in the first half of the 20C via Oxyrynchus papyri (R.Pfeiffer, Callimachus (1949, 1953). Callimachean aesthetics and poetics moves to the centre of the study of Augustan literature (big e.g. in Williams 1968).

G.W.Williams, Tradition and Originality in Roman Poetry (1968)

Dialogue with Fraenkel (e.g. on Horace’s Epistles); close readings of poems.

Key issues at start (29-30):

  1. what is the significance of form in Roman poetic writing?
  2. how much material did real life supply and how much was imaginary?
  3. Roman poetry often makes considerable demands on its readers

to supply a dramatic setting

  1. how far do Greek and Roman blend in Roman poetry?
  2. interest in moralising
  3. apparent autobiographical revelation
  4. the poet’s view of his [sic] own activity.


The literary turn of the 1960s

Rudd, N. ed. (1972), Essays on Classical Literature, vii-xviii (previous gaps filled by Kenney, Nisbet, D.West, P.G.Walsh [Livy], J.P.Sullivan). Good examples of this kind of work, sometimes influenced by New Criticism:  e.g. K.Quinn, Latin Explorations (1963), N.Rudd, Lines of Enquiry (1979), J.P.Sullivan (ed.), Critical Essays on Roman Literature : Elegy and Lyric (1962),  D.West, Horace (1967), The Imagery and Poetry of Lucretius (1969).


US contributions

The work of Michael Putnam: ‘to explore the formal perfection and the anguished humanity of central works of Latin literature’ [MD 52 (2004) 11]: e.g. The Poetry of the Aeneid (1965), Essays on Latin Lyric, Elegy and Epic (1982), Virgil’s Aeneid : Interpretation and Influence (1995).

The work of David O. Ross, Backgrounds to Augustan Poetry (1975), ‘Augustan poetry as a natural growth in the soil prepared by Catullus’ (163); transition from neoteric literature and interest in reconstructing Gallus, particular intensity of the Augustan period.

The ‘Harvard-School’ on Vergil – see Classical World special issue (2017): Putnam, Wendell Clausen, Adam Parry, others.  Anti-imperialistic pessimism, some politics.


The UK in the 1970s

R.G.M.Nisbet, Collected Papers on Latin Literature (1995)

R.O.A.M.Lyne, Collected Papers on Latin Poetry (2007)

Woodman, A.J. and West. D.A., eds.

Quality and Pleasure in Latin Poetry (1974)                  [literary value Ok to write about]

Creative Imitation and. Latin Literature (1979)            [value of allusion]

Poetry and Politics in the Age of Augustus (1984)        [political engagement]

Some New Critical readings, but  predominantly historicist; cast includes Nisbet, Williams, Kenney, Lyne, Cairns, Du Quesnay as well as the editors.

A bold enterprise: F.Cairns, Generic Composition in Greek and Roman Poetry (1972; revised edition 2008). ‘Genres of content’ retrojected from imperial rhetorical handbook (e.g. propemptikon). Some influence, but too schematic/dogmatic? See e.g. Galinsky, K. ed. The Interpretation of Roman Poetry: Empiricism or Hermeneutics? (1992) [critical retrospect by several hands on 1970s and 1980s].



Vergil, Aeneid

            1,2,4,6                         R.G.Austin (Oxford, 1971,1964,1955,1977)

            3,5                               R.D.Williams (Oxford, 1962,1960)

            7&8                              C.J.Fordyce (Oxford,1977)


            Odes                           Nisbet and Hubbard 1 (1970), 2 (1978)

            Epistles 2 + Ars        Brink (1959-82) [reviving the Berlin of Jaeger and Wilamowitz]        

Cambridge ‘Orange’ series [1965-] ‘Green and Yellow’ series  [1970-]

Continental examples:

Franz Bömer [austere]

P. Ovidius Naso, Die Fasten, 1957–1958 [2 vols.]

P. Ovidius Naso, Metamorphosen [9 vols] 1969–2006

Paolo Fedeli [not austere]

Sesto Properzio: Il primo libro delle Elegie, 1980

Properzio. Elegie Libro II. Introduzione, testo e commento, 2005

Sesto Properzio. Il libro terzo delle Elegie, 1985

Properzio, Elegie libro IV [with  Rosalba Dimundo, Irma Ciccarelli], 2015


G.W.Most (ed.), Commentaries – Kommentare (1999)

R.K.Gibson and C.S.Kraus (eds.), The Classical Commentary  (2002)

C.S.Kraus and C.A.Stray (eds.), Classical Commentaries (2016).


G.B.Conte and the 1980s (genre, intertextuality; cf. Pasquali, above)

(1974), Memoria dei poeti e sistema letterario (2nd ed. 1985; largely translated in Conte 1986]

(1980), Virgilio : il genere e i suoi confini (2nd ed. 1985; largely translated in Conte 1986]

(1986), The Rhetoric of Imitation : Genre and Poetic Memory in Virgil and Other Latin Poets [tr. C.P.Segal]

(1994), Latin Literature : A History [with J.Solodow, G.W.Most, D.P.Fowler; Italian 1987]

(1994), Genres and Readers [tr. C.P.Segal]

(2007), Virgil: The Poetry of Pathos [ed. S.J.Harrison, tr. G.W.Most and E.Fantham]


Conte students/associates in 1980s/90s (e.g.):

Alessandro Barchiesi (The Poet and the Prince 1997, Speaking Volumes 2001, both Ovid)

Alessandro Schiesaro (Simulacrum et imago 1990 [Lucr.], The Passions in Play, 2003 [Sen.Trag.]),

Stephen Hinds  (Allusion and Intertext, 1998)

Don Fowler (Roman Constructions 2000)

Stephen Harrison (Generic Enrichment 2007)

Journal: Materiali e discussioni per l'analisi dei testi classici (1978-)


Zanker, Galinsky and the generation of Augustan culture

P.Zanker, The Power of Images in the Age of Augustus (1988; German 1987)

G.K.Galinsky, Augustan Culture: An Interpretive Introduction (1996)

T.Habinek and A.Schiesaro, eds. The Roman Cultural Revolution (1997).


Inclusion of archaeological and art-historical material (esp. buildings – same?)

Influence of Fascism (Zanker b.Konstanz 1937)

Are literary patronage and building design similar?

Does Augustan material move out from the princeps and his circle to wider culture?

Does bottom-up movement combine with top-down?

How does the traditional role of Maecenas (above)  fit into this model (not really in Zanker)?


Song, performance and audience

Thomas Habinek, The World of Roman Song: From Ritualized Speech to Social Order (2007)

‘for the Romans, "song" encompassed a wide range of ritualized speech, including elements of poetry, storytelling, and even the casting of spells’ [publisher’s blurb]

Michèle Lowrie, Writing, Performance, and Authority in Augustan Rome (2009)

‘Song has links to the divine through prophecy, while writing offers a more quotidian, but also more realistic way of presenting what a poet does. In a culture of highly polished book production where recitation was the fashion, to claim to sing or to write was one means of self-definition. Lowrie assesses the stakes of poetic claims to one medium or another’ [ditto]. Concern with posterity and long-term audience.

T.P.Wiseman, The Roman Audience; Classical Literature as Social History (2015)

‘Who were Roman authors writing for? Only a minority of the population was fully literate and books were very expensive, individually hand-written on imported papyrus. So does it follow that great poets and prose authors like Virgil and Livy, Ovid and Petronius, were writing only for the cultured and the privileged? It is this modern consensus that is challenged in this volume’ [ditto].


Anglophone Ovidian renaissance since mid-1980s

3 companions (NB companion/handbook phenomenon generally) and one anthology:

P.E.Knox, A Companion to Ovid (2009; Blackwell)

P.Hardie, The Cambridge Companion to Ovid (2002; Cambridge)

Barbara Weiden Boyd, Brill's Companion to Ovid. (2002)

Peter E. Knox, Oxford Readings in Ovid (2006) [NB same for Vergil, Horace, Propertius]



A.Barchiesi, Speaking Volumes (2001)

Katharina Volk, Ovid (2010)

Francesca Martelli, Ovid’s Revisions; The Editor as Author (2013)

Thea Thorsen, Ovid’s Early Poetry (2014)

L.Fulkerson, Ovid (2016)

Amores etc

Barbara Weiden Boyd, Ovid's Literary Loves: Influence and Innovation in the Amores (1997)

Rebecca Armstrong, Ovid and His Love Poetry (2005)

Victoria Rimell, Ovid's Lovers: Desire, Difference, and the Poetic Imagination (2006)

[male and female worlds; Medusa and Narcissus as poetic symbols]


Florence Verducci, Ovid's Toyshop of the Heart: Epistulae Heroidum (1985)

Sara H. Lindheim,  Mail and Female: Epistolary Narrative and Desire in Ovid's Heroides (2003).

Efrossini Spentzou, Readers and Writers in Ovid's Heroides. Transgressions of Genre and Gender (2003).

Laurel Fulkerson, The Ovidian Heroine as Author. Reading, Writing, and Community in the Heroides (2005)


Alessandro Barchiesi, Il poeta e il principe: Ovidio e il discorso augusteo (1994; 1997)

Geraldine Herbert-Brown, Ovid and the Fasti: An Historical Study (1994)

Carole Newlands, Playing with Time: Ovid and the Fasti (1995)

Emma Gee, Ovid, Aratus and Augustus: Astronomy in Ovid's Fasti (2000)


S.E.Hinds, The Metamorphosis of Persephone (1987)

J.Solodow, The World of Ovid’s Metamorphoses (1988)

G.Tissol, The Face of Nature: Wit, Narrative, and Cosmic Origins in Ovid's Metamorphoses (1997)

Alison.M.Keith, Play of Fictions: Studies in Ovid's Metamorphoses Book 2 (1992).

K.Sara Myers, Ovid's Causes: Cosmogony and Aetiology in the Metamorphoses (1994)

S.Wheeler,  A Discourse of Wonders: Audience and Performance in Ovid's Metamorphoses (1999)

Elaine Fantham, Ovid's Metamorphoses (2004).

Patricia J. Johnson, Ovid Before Exile. Art and Punishment in the Metamorphoses (2008)

Micaela Janan,  Reflections in a Serpent’s Eye: Thebes and Rome in Ovid’s Metamorphoses (2009)

Barbara Pavlock, The Image of the Poet in Ovid's Metamorphoses (2009)

Andrew Feldherr, Playing Gods: Ovid's Metamorphoses and the Politics of Fiction (2010)

Exile poetry

Williams, G., Banished Voices. Readings in Ovid’s Exile Poetry (1994)

Claassen, J-M. Ovid Revisited: The Poet in Exile (2008)


European Augustan Network and e-journal Dictynna; trending areas

J-P.Schwindt, ed. (2005) La représentation du temps dans la poésie augustéenne / Zur Poetik der Zeit in augusteischer Dichtung. [time]

P.Hardie, ed. (2009), Paradox and the Marvellous in Augustan Literature and Culture

M.Labate and G.Rosati, eds. (2013), La costruzione del mito augusteo.

J. Farrell and D.P. Nelis, eds. (2013), Augustan Poetry and the Roman Republic.

P.Hardie, ed. (2016), Augustan Poetry and the Irrational

M.Gale and A.Chahoud, eds., The Augustan Space (2017)