The Poets and the Principes: Latin Epic in the Roman Empire CLASSIC4066

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Humanities
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Either Semester 1 or Semester 2 (Alternate Years)
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

This course considers and contextualises the epic poems produced under the Roman Empire (with special focus on the Augustan and Neronian ages: Virgil's Aeneid, Ovid's Metamorphoses and Lucan's Bellum Ciuile) and examines them under the lens of their relationship and problematic negotiation with the imperial politics of their time.


Two sessions per week, indicatively 10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of seminars. This is one of the Honours options in Classics and may not run every year. The options that are running this session are available on MyCampus. 

Requirements of Entry

Available to all students fulfilling requirements for Honours entry into Classics, Greek or Latin, and by arrangement to visiting students or students of other Honours programmes.

Excluded Courses



The assessment includes a research topic of the student's choice, which will result in an essay and an oral presentation. Assessment comprises:

Oral presentation of 20 minutes - 20%

Essay (2,500 words, on same topic as presentation) - 30%

Examination (90 minutes duration) - 50%

Main Assessment In: April/May

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? Not applicable

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which contribute to the Honours classification. For non-Honours courses, students are offered reassessment in all or any of the components of assessment if the satisfactory (threshold) grade for the overall course is not achieved at the first attempt. This is normally grade D3 for undergraduate students and grade C3 for postgraduate students. Exceptionally it may not be possible to offer reassessment of some coursework items, in which case the mark achieved at the first attempt will be counted towards the final course grade. Any such exceptions for this course are described below. 

Course Aims

This course will provide the opportunity to:

■ Study the features and changes of a central poetic genre in Latin literature as contextualised within the historical and political events of the early Roman Empire;

■ Understand and investigate the interactions between poetry, history and politics and the way in which literary themes and tastes mirror and react to the historical periods in which they are set;

■ Become familiar with the concepts of ideology and ideology critique as applied to the study of literary texts;

■ Study the concepts of intertextuality, intratextuality and genre criticism with a wide range of specific case studies from Latin epic texts;

■ Engage in independent research and practice oral presentation in front of an audience.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

■ Describe and discuss the main epic poems produced under the early Roman Empire;

■ Identify the different literary, cultural and political features of the Augustan, Neronian and Flavian ages;

■ Analyse the set texts by situating them in their proper historical, cultural and political contexts and in a continuous dialogue with the imperial ideology that surrounded them;

■ Apply the concepts of intertextuality and genre criticism to Latin literary texts in translation;

■ Engage critically and constructively with set texts, secondary bibliopgraphy and other students' presentations;

■ Engage in independent research on Latin epic poetry, making good use of the University Library, relevant bibliographies and the electronic resources at their disposal.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.