Classics 220

CLSS 220: Latin Literature in Translation.  

Credit Hours: (3)

Prerequisite: ENGL 101 and 102.

Study of masterpieces of Latin literature, including epic and other poetry, drama, historiography, satire, and oratory.  This course has been approved for General Education credit in Area 4: Humanities.


Detailed Description of Content of Course

This course will cover major literary works of the Romans, whose literature and civilization have had great influence on western civilization.  Assigned readings will include selections from Cicero's orations, historical writings of Livy and Tacitus, comedies by Plautus and/or Terence, Vergil's Aeneid, lyric and elegiac poets (especially Catullus and Horace), Ovid's Metamorphoses and love poetry, satires by Horace and Juvenal, and a background book on Roman life and history.


Detailed Description of Conduct of Course

Students will read in translation major works of Latin literature. The instructor will provide background lectures on Roman history and civilization, major literary periods, genres, and authors. Class discussion will focus on literary techniques as well as understanding of the literary text. In addition, the influence of these works on major works of western European and American literature will be noted .


Goals and Objectives of the Course

Through a study of major literary works, authors, and genres of the Romans, students should develop an appreciation for Latin literature in a broad sense as well as an appreciation for specific literary masterpieces and the influence of Latin literature upon the literature of western civilization.

Broad General Education Goals:   Students will be able to:

*think critically and creatively about ideas, issues, problems, and texts both within and across academic disciplines–

Classics 220 students will study and analyze the issues faced by heroes, heroines, and writers  in a variety of Roman literary genres.

*construct logical and persuasive arguments–

Classics 220 students will evaluate the dilemmas and decisions of literary heroes and heroines, discuss the reasons for and the effects of the use of a particular version of myth in Roman epic, and study and evaluate the techniques of persuasion used by the Roman orator Cicero.

*employ a variety of research methods and styles of inquiry–

Classics 220 students will consider different approaches to the interpretation of literature (e.g.,the effects of cultural, historical, psychological, allegorical, religious and teleological considerations) and will also consider the supplementary material provided by studies of art and archaeology.

*work with others in a shared process of inquiry and problem-solving–

In class discussions, Classics 220 students will analyze texts and interpretations of myths;    analyze the approaches of more personal literary forms such as satire, comedy, and lyric poetry; compare the treatment of the same genre (e.g., epic) by diverse writers; and analyze the effectiveness of Cicero’s oratorical techniques.

*identify the cultural values that shape decisions in public, professional, and private life, and assess the ethical implications of those decisions–


Classics 220 students will study and analyze the crises faced and the values exhibited by the heroes and heroines of epic poetry as well as the people of other literary genres.  In this literature, students will see the interaction of private and public realms and the relationship between men and gods as well as the relationships between citizens and within families.  Great struggles involving  personal freedom and responsibility and illustrating ancient ethics provide ample ground for discussion, analysis, and comparison with contemporary situations.

Area 4 Goals:                       Students will be able to:

*demonstrate a basic knowledge of the nature and methods of inquiry in the humanities–

Classics 220 students will study major works of the Latin literary tradition and consider the major forces which affected the development of  ancient literature.  They will see the interdependence of disciplines within the area in studying interpretations and approaches to the literature (e.g., the effects of the Greek literary tradition, mythological tradition, historical forces, philosophical trends, contemporary culture). 

*demonstrate an understanding of the importance of the human quest for meaning, value, and order in life–

Classics 220 students will see in various literary selections (epic poetry, comedy, satire, lyric poetry, oratory, etc.)  the quest for meaning, values, and order in life.  They will see how different writers analyze relationships and ethical dilemmas.  Some literary forms such as satire, comedy, lyric poetry, and oratory often reflect contemporary issues as well.

*analyze and evaluate different views of the meaning, value, and purpose of human life–

Classics 220 students will analyze the different interpretations of situations that may arise from using different versions of myths, or that arise from the particular emphases of different genres or authors.

*interpret and critically evaluate classical and contemporary works of literature as diverse expressions of the human condition–

Classics 220 students can compare the values illustrated and the dilemmas faced by heroes and heroines of classical literature with those seen in contemporary life and literature.

*discuss in speech and writing the relevance of the search for meaning to their own lives–

Classics 220 students will discuss the search for meaning by ancient heroes, heroines, and writers both in class discussion and in essay questions on tests.  In doing so, discussion often can  and should lead to reflections on one’s own situation and values.


Assessment Measures

Assessment will include at least three hour-exams and a final exam - primarily short identifications, discussion and analysis of passages from literary texts studied in class, and essay questions; one paper (6-8 pages typed) - e.g., on themes, characters, etc., in the Aeneid and/or in-class writing assignments (e.g. on themes in Catullus’ poetry or themes in the Aeneid); informal assessment through class discussion.  Discussion in essays and in class will focus on the analysis of such humanistic issues as the search for meaning as well as the strong impact of historical and cultural forces on Latin literature.


Other Course Information

CLSS 220 is one of the core courses for the Classical Humanities minor. It may be taken in place of ENGL 201, 202, or 203 for required general education credit in Humanities (Area 4). It may also be taken to satisfy the optional three-hour credit in Humanities. CLSS 220 provides an opportunity for more extensive study of Latin literature than would be done in ENGL 201 (Masterpieces of World Literature).


Approval and Subsequent Reviews

August 2001                         Reviewed and Updated       Salle Ann Schlueter-Gill