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Latin Set Book


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Our Latin Set Book short course offers you the unique opportunity to study a Classical Latin text in depth with the guidance of specialist tutors who are active in research in that area. You will learn to translate complex Latin with confidence and attention to linguistic nuance. You will also be encouraged to relate your reading to understanding broader questions about ancient culture, society and thought. The texts we study each year change in response to student needs and preferences.

This year's course focuses on Book 4 of Ovid’s Fasti, his extraordinarily inventive poem on the first six months of the Roman calendar. Book 4 is concerned with festivals of the month of April, a month for which Venus is the presiding deity. While a poem exploring the origins and rituals of religious festivals was very much in the tradition of bravura Hellenistic literature (notably the Aitia of Callimachus), we will discover how Ovid’s distinctive take on the Roman calendar and the city’s religious topography is both playful and politically acute.

The establishment of the principate under Augustus had transformed Rome’s religious calendar and the fabric of the city in multiple ways, while Venus herself was claimed as an ancestor of the princeps. This short course will give you the opportunity to engage closely with the linguistic and literary texture of Fasti Book 4 to explore in detail the politics and poetics of Ovid’s treatment of Roman time and Roman space under the new regime. For comparison we shall also consider selections from Livy’s history and book 4 of Propertius’ elegies (also written under Augustus) treating religious festivals and sacred places in the city. 

Teaching on this course is varied and interactive. It includes in-class translation and discussion of language, context and interpretation.

By the end of the Latin Set Book course you will be able to:

  • read complex Classical Latin texts in the original with confidence
  • analyse the wider implications of your reading for the study of Classical literature, ancient history and ancient philosophy
  • understand how the set text has been transmitted within the modern world and make use of the apparatus criticus to further your understanding
  • enrich your knowledge of the ancient world through close engagement with original evidence.

The course will be taught jointly by Professor Catharine Edwards and Dr Benjamin Gray.

Please note: this course also includes a Saturday workshop, date to be confirmed shortly. 

This course is non-credit bearing, so carries no credit points.

  • Entry requirements

    Entry requirements

    This short course is suitable for anyone interested in studying Latin but not seeking formal qualifications in the language. It involves close study of a Classical Latin text in the original, so it requires substantial prior experience in Latin, but we are flexible with precise qualifications and experience.  for further details.

    As part of the enrolment process, you may be required to submit a copy of a suitable form of ID.

    International students who wish to come to the UK to study a short course can apply for a Visitor visa. Please note that it is not possible to obtain a Student visa to study a short course.

  • How to apply

    How to apply

    You register directly onto the classes you would like to take. Classes are filled on a first-come, first-served basis - so apply early. If you wish to take more than one short course, you can select each one separately and then register onto them together via our online application portal. There is usually no formal selection process, although some modules may have prerequisites and/or other requirements, which will be specified where relevant.