The Novel in Antiquity (Latin) LATIN4034

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

Short Description

This course examines major texts of Greek and Roman fictional writing (which we nowadays anachronistically call "novels") composed in the Roman Imperial period. The narratives under discussion will be analysed within their social context and as literary products of their cultural environment; some of the issues that will be discussed during the course are how and why the authors of these texts use literary tradition, what these stories tell us about the narrative techniques and the readers of their eras, to what extent these texts may be used as pieces of evidence for gender studies and the fashioning of identity in the ancient world, how our understanding of these texts can be aided by modern critical theories, how the language and style of these narratives contributes to their meaning, and how these texts have influenced and inspired different cultural and artistic forms in the modern world.


10x1hr lectures; 10x1hr seminars over 10 weeks as scheduled in MyCampus. This is one of the Honours courses 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 in Classics, and by arrangement to visiting students or students of other Honours programmes who qualify under the University's 25% regulation.

Excluded Courses

CLASSIC 4044 "The Novel in Antiquity: Impotent Heroes and Damsels in Distress"

GREEK4032 "The Novel in Antiquity (Greek)"




Exam (120 minutes) - 50%

Essay (2500 words) - 50%

Main Assessment In: April/May

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? Not applicable for Honours courses

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which contribute to the Honours classification. Where, exceptionally, reassessment on Honours courses is required to satisfy professional/accreditation requirements, only the overall course grade achieved at the first attempt will 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 aims to:

■ Introduce students to the literary concept of "fictional narrative" as theorised and viewed in Graeco-Roman antiquity from the second century BC onwards

■ Discuss the socio-cultural background and the historical circumstances which contributed to the emergence of the novel as a literary form in antiquity

■ Explore the implications of the sophisticated character of these texts for the purpose of understanding better their intended and/or actual readership and their ideology

■ Examine the cultural impact of these texts in literature and other artistic forms from the eighteenth century onwards

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

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


■ show a critical understanding of the set texts in all forms of assessment and in dialogue with both fellow-students and staff;

■ situate these texts within their literary, cultural, and social context;

■ demonstrate ability to discuss, orally and in writing, concepts such as intertextuality, narrative, social identity, and gender in relation to the novels studied in this option;

■ assess the value of modern scholarly approaches on these texts and engage critically with the secondary literature interpreting these works;

■ translate the Latin of Petronius and Apuleius into idiomatic English with due concern for stylistic nuances. 

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.