How well do you know Latin literature?

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By jwblackwell



9 Questions

What types of writings are included in Latin literature?

When did formal Latin literature begin?

Who wrote the historical epic on the first Punic War in early Latin literature?

When did the Golden Age of Latin literature end?

Who wrote the pastoral Eclogues, the Georgics, and the Aeneid during the Augustan Age of Latin literature?

Who emerged during the Imperial Period of Latin literature and developed the epigram?

What is a notable feature of Latin language that lends itself to elaboration and conciseness?

What did Roman writers do to give familiar vocabulary poetic value?

What did Rome's leading poets have great technical skill in?


Latin Literature: An Overview

  • Latin literature includes essays, histories, poems, plays, and other writings written in the Latin language by Roman authors such as Cicero, Virgil, Ovid, and Horace, but also includes the works of European writers after the fall of the Empire.
  • Formal Latin literature began in 240 BC with the first stage play in Latin performed in Rome.
  • Early Latin literature included comedies and tragedies adapted from Greek drama by Livius Andronicus and others, an historical epic by Quintus Ennius, and an epic poem in Saturnian Meter on the first Punic War by Gnaeus Naevius.
  • The Golden Age of Latin literature is usually said to have begun with the first known speech of Cicero in 81 BC and ended with the death of Ovid.
  • The age of Cicero saw the production of the letters, rhetorical treatises, philosophical works, and orations of Cicero, as well as the historical writings of Julius Caesar and Sallust, the lyric poetry of Catullus and Lucretius, and the learned writings of Marcus Terentius Varro.
  • The Augustan Age of Latin literature saw the publication of Virgil's pastoral Eclogues, the Georgics, and the Aeneid, Horace's Epodes, Odes, Satires, and Epistles, and the Latin elegy of Tibullus, Propertius, and Ovid.
  • The Imperial Period of Latin literature from the death of Augustus in AD 14 until about 200 saw the emergence of new and startling ways of expression by Seneca, Lucan, Petronius, Martial, Juvenal, Tacitus, and Suetonius, as well as the development of the epigram by Martial.
  • Latin continued to be used as the lingua franca among the learned throughout Europe in the Middle Ages, Renaissance, and Early Modernity, with the great works of Descartes, Francis Bacon, and Baruch Spinoza all being composed in Latin.
  • Latin writing reflects the Romans' interest in rhetoric and public speaking, and Latin authors became masters of the art of variety.
  • Latin is a highly inflected language, lending itself to elaboration and conciseness, and can be used with sweeping phrases or tight syntax.
  • Latin lacks poetic vocabulary that marks Greek poetry, but Roman writers gave familiar vocabulary poetic value by combinations of words and rich sound effects.
  • Rome's leading poets had great technical skill in the choice and arrangement of language and an intimate knowledge of the Greek poets, whose themes appear in almost all Roman literature.


Test your knowledge of Latin literature with this comprehensive overview quiz! From the earliest plays to the works of renowned authors like Cicero, Virgil, and Ovid, this quiz covers all the major periods and genres of Latin literature. See how much you know about the Golden Age, the Augustan Age, and the Imperial Period, and learn interesting facts about the language, style, and themes of Roman literature. Don't miss this chance to challenge yourself and discover more about the rich legacy of Latin literature

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