Understanding Latin Literature  book cover
2nd Edition

Understanding Latin Literature

ISBN 9781138645394
Published January 20, 2017 by Routledge
238 Pages

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Book Description

Understanding Latin Literature is a highly accessible, user-friendly work that provides a fresh and illuminating introduction to the most important aspects of Latin prose and poetry. This second edition is heavily revised to reflect recent developments in scholarship, especially in the area of the later reception and reverberations of Latin literature. Chapters are dedicated to Latin writers such as Virgil and Livy and explore how literature related to Roman identity and society. Readers are stimulated and inspired to do their own further reading through engagement with a wide selection of translated extracts and through understanding the different ways in which they can be approached. Central throughout is the theme of the fundamental connections between Latin literature and issues of elite Roman culture. The versatile and accessible structure of Understanding Latin Literature makes it suitable for both individual and class use.

Table of Contents

List of figures

About this book


1 Virgil and the meaning of the Aeneid

2 Role models for Roman women and men in Livy

3 What is Latin literature?

4 What does studying Latin literature involve?

5 Receptions and reverberations of Latin literature

6 Making Roman identity: multiculturalism, militarism and masculinity

7 Performance and spectacle, life and death

8 Intersections of power: praise, politics and patrons

9 Annihilation and abjection: living death and living slavery

10 Writing ‘real’ lives

11 Introspection and individual identity

12 Literary texture and intertextuality

13 Metapoetics

14 Allegory

15 Overcoming an inferiority complex: constructing Roman literature





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Susanna Morton Braund is Professor of Latin Poetry and its Reception at the University of British Columbia, Canada and holder of a Killam Research Fellowship. She taught previously at Stanford University and Yale University in the USA, and at the Universities of London, Bristol and Exeter in the UK. She has published extensively on Roman satire and epic and has translated Lucan’s Civil War, the Satires of Persius and Juvenal, and Seneca's De Clementia, Agamemnon, Oedipus and Phoenician Women. She is currently working on a major project on the reception of Virgil's poems in later eras as manifested in translation history.


Braund provides a superb overview of pertinent issues related to Latin literature through her unique organization by topic. The second edition includes a new and instructive chapter on the reception of Latin literature, and effectively incorporates recent scholarship on such varied topics as gender, performance and spectacle, slavery, public v. private, and the relationship between literature and society. Braund’s takes on all are well informed, often thought-provoking, openly personal, and delivered in a crisp and clear, always accessible style.

- Professor David Christenson, University of Arizona, USA