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Syllabus for
LATN 400 (02): Senior Latin
Satire: Juvenal and Martial

John Porter, instructor

Term 2
Time: TTh 10:00-11:20
Room: TBD

Nature and Purpose of the Course

We will read some of Juvenal's greatest hits (Satires 1, 3, and 10) as well as a selection of epigrams by Martial. Our goal will be to become familiar with the genres of satire and epigram (meter, vocabulary, stylistic features, themes, hermeneutic issues) while at the same time improving our basic facility in Latin and in the use of the aids appropriate to reading Latin at a senior level (lexica, commentaries, grammars).
Weeks 1-12: close reading of the assigned texts with particular attention to matters of syntax, meter, and poetic style.
The final session of the course will be led by members of the class, who will apply the skills that they have developed over the term to present a close reading of a passage from Juvenal, a substantial epigram of Martial, or 2-3 epigrams by Martial on a related theme. (In all, your presentation should address approximately 20 lines of Latin text that we have not examined earlier in the course of the term.) Each student will be required to compose a grammatical commentary on their text, with supporting references to Allen and Greenough and other relevant sources, and to lead the class as they work through the translation and analysis of the material. Your commentaries can address other matters (literary, historical, archaeological) but must engage in a thorough manner with the language (syntax, diction, style, meter) of your passage. (For a guide, consult the model on this website.)


To understand our two authors, it is important to have a general sense of the history of the Late Republic and of the rise and development of the imperial system of government over the course of the 1st century AD. Above all, it is important to have some understanding of the reign of the emperor Domitian, who was in power from AD 81-96. For the former, see C. Kelly, The Roman Empire: A Very Short Introduction [eBook: DG272 .K45 2006eb]. For the latter, see T.P. Wiseman, "Domitian and the Dynamics of Terror in Classical Rome," History Today 46.9 (1996) 19-24.   [EBSCOhost Academic Search Complete]
Although we will read Juvenal first, it is Martial who is the earlier of our two authors. Martial's works (which can be dated to ca. AD 80-104) are virtually coextensive with reign of Domitian, under whom Martial thrived: see the introduction in Watson & Watson, esp. pp. 1-5 and 9-12. (You might also consult the general introduction to Martial by Watson & Watson in the Understanding Classics series: PA6507 .W38 2015.)
Juvenal was a younger contemporary of Martial and belonged to the same generation as the historian Tacitus. The precise date of each of Juvenal's satires is difficult to pin down. We know, however, that the collection was published in five books, over a span of a some 15 years (roughly AD 115 to 130): Book I: Sat. 1-5; Book II: Sat. 6; Book III: Sat. 7-9; Book IV: Sat. 10-12; Book V: Sat. 13-16. Juvenal's works, then, date to the period following Domitian's fall, and reflect something of the greater freedom and optimism of the Roman elite under the emperors Trajan and Hadrian. Like Tacitus and other members of the aristocratic classes, however, Juvenal seems to have been scarred by his experience under Domitian: see my handout of testimonia of Domitian's reign, esp. the excerpts from Tacitus. See, further, pp. 15-16 in Braund's commentary and pp. 1-9 in Courtney's commentary.

Required Texts

Recommended Texts

On-Line Material

Recommended Reference Works

Student Assignments

Emphasis will be placed on the precise translation, with grammatical and metrical analysis, of the prepared texts, but examinations will include a significant amount of Latin to be translated at sight. Dictionaries and grammars might be permitted in the case of sight passages, but all translations of prepared passages in an examination setting will be done without the use of any external aids.
At the conclusion of the term, each student will select approximately 20 lines from one of our two authors (see above) to present to the class. The student will be expected to lead the in-class translation and analysis of those lines and to produce a grammatical commentary, with supporting references to Allen and Greenough and other relevant sources. The initial draft of these commentaries must be presented to the instructor by 2:00 p.m. on April 3, for distribution to the other students in the class. (Please note: this is a fixed deadline, since failure to provide your fellow students with the material required for the next class-session will jeopardize their success.) The final printed versions must be submitted by 4:30 p.m. on April 9.

Classroom Etiquette

As noted above, the focus in this course will be on the precise translation, with grammatical and metrical analysis, of the assigned texts. Students will be expected to work from a copy of the original Latin text, not to be reading from a prepared English translation. The latter practice tends to discourage a thorough engagement with specific grammatical constructions and idioms, and makes it difficult to assess just how students are arriving at their interpretation — i.e., their understanding of how specific clauses and phrases are constructed. More to the point: students who reduce the work of the course to a single "decoding" of the text tend to flounder on exams, where they find themselves in effect sight-reading passages that they have worked through one time only, some weeks earlier.
In each class-session, each student will be expected to provide a workable literal translation of the passages under discussion along with a precise account of the relevant grammatical constructions and scansion.
Best practice: make an enlarged photocopy of the assigned text and pencil in vocabulary and grammar notes on that.


In addition to weekly reading assignments and the commentary assignment, there will be a midterm examination and a final examination required this term. Each examination will consist of some combination of:
  1. translation of material read in class, with grammatical commentary
  2. sight translation
  3. scansion
Marks will be assigned according to the following scheme:

Important Notice

Attendance is mandatory: no student with 5 or more unexcused absences will receive a mark of higher than 49% for the course.

Late work will be penalized as set out in the schedule above.

Unless specific written instructions are provided to the contrary, no outside resources will be permitted in any course examinations.

Lectures may not be recorded without the prior consent of the instructor.

Unless otherwise indicated, course material is to be regarded as the copyrighted property of the instructor and is not to be reproduced or distributed in any form without express written consent.

UofS Academic Courses Policy on Class Delivery, Examinations, and Assessment of Student Learning

Useful Resources on the WWW

The Latin Hexameter   [pdf format]
The Latin Elegiac Couplet   [pdf format]
Other Meters Commonly Employed by Martial  [pdf format]
Poems in Watson & Watson, Martial: Select Epigrams
Iraq's 1979 Fascist Coup, Narrated by Christopher Hitchens
Chilling video of the meeting of the Iraqi Baath Party at which Saddam Hussein cemented his hold on power through the execution of alleged traitors, whose names are read out, one by one, as part of a forced confession by one of the party leaders, with each individual then being led out of the hall to be shot (as it turns out, by those whose names were not read out). Cited by T.P. Wiseman as a parallel for our ancient sources' portrayal of what it was like to serve in the Roman senate under Domitian.
Useful Resources for Students of Classics/CMRS
The name says it all.
Perseus Reference Works
Access to lexica, grammars, a morphological parser, texts, and commentaries.
The Perseus Project
Material related to Perseus, a multi-media library that allows the user to access an immense variety of material relevant to the study of ancient Greece. Numerous images and descriptions of vases, architecture, sites, and coins are available on-line as well as a wide array of texts (in both Greek and English) and philological tools. One of the most extensive and complex sites on the WWW.
    — includes:
On-line Perseus Greek/Latin Texts (most with English translation)
On-Line Lewis and Short Latin Lexicon (entries limited to words that appear in the current selection of Perseus Latin Texts)
Allen and Greenough's New Latin Grammar
Pdf version with searchable text
On-line edition at Perseus
Pdf version at Textkit
Gildersleeve and Lodge: Gildersleeve's Latin Grammar
Pdf version
Words: Downloadable Latin-English Dictionary
[on-line version]
Textkit: Greek & Latin Learning Tools
An invaluable collection of downloadable Greek and Latin grammars, readers, and other aids, including such classics as Goodwin's Greek Grammar, Smyth's Greek Grammar, Allen & Greenough's New Latin Grammar, North & Hillard's Greek Prose Composition, and North & Hillard's Latin Prose Composition.
LATN 112/113 Resource Sheets (in pdf format)

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