Skip to main content
Back to Results
Cover image of Roman Literary Culture

Roman Literary Culture

From Plautus to Macrobius

Elaine Fantham

second edition
Publication Date
Binding Type

This new edition broadens the scope of Fantham’s study of literary production and its reception in Rome.

Scholars of ancient literature have often focused on the works and lives of major authors rather than on such questions as how these works were produced and who read them. In Roman Literary Culture, Elaine Fantham fills that void by examining the changing social and historical context of literary production in ancient Rome and its empire.

Fantham’s first edition discussed the habits of Roman readers and developments in their means of access to literature, from booksellers and copyists to...

This new edition broadens the scope of Fantham’s study of literary production and its reception in Rome.

Scholars of ancient literature have often focused on the works and lives of major authors rather than on such questions as how these works were produced and who read them. In Roman Literary Culture, Elaine Fantham fills that void by examining the changing social and historical context of literary production in ancient Rome and its empire.

Fantham’s first edition discussed the habits of Roman readers and developments in their means of access to literature, from booksellers and copyists to pirated publications and libraries. She examines the issues of patronage and the utility of literature and shows how the constraints of the physical object itself—the ancient "book"—influenced the practice of both reading and writing. She also explores the ways in which ancient criticism and critical attitudes reflected cultural assumptions of the time.

In this second edition, Fantham expands the scope of her study. In the new first chapter, she examines the beginning of Roman literature—more than a century before the critical studies of Cicero and Varro. She discusses broader entertainment culture, which consisted of live performances of comedy and tragedy as well as oral presentations of the epic. A new final chapter looks at Pagan and Christian literature from the third to fifth centuries, showing how this period in Roman literature reflected its foundations in the literary culture of the late republic and Augustan age. This edition also includes a new preface and an updated bibliography.

Reviews

Reviews

Fantham offers a succinct but generous guide to recent scholarship in Latin literature. I heartily recommend her book to scholars of Latin literature, to instructors seeking a textbook for History of Latin Literature courses and to graduate students studying for exams.

Roman Literary Culture is an important work, full of learning, which serves simultaneously to deepen our appreciation of Latin literature in its social context, to provoke further exploration of the questions the author raises, and to continue debate concerning certain of the answers.

About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6
x
9
Pages
368
ISBN
9781421408361
Illustration Description
1 b&w illus
Table of Contents

Preface to the Second Edition
Preface to the First Edition
Introduction
Toward a Social History of Latin Literature
Author, Audience, and Medium
Ennius and Cato, Two Early Writers
New Genres of Literature

Preface to the Second Edition
Preface to the First Edition
Introduction
Toward a Social History of Latin Literature
Author, Audience, and Medium
Ennius and Cato, Two Early Writers
New Genres of Literature, from Lucilius to Apuleius
Generic Preoccupations
Chapter One
Starting from Scratch
Drama—The First Literary Genre
Comedy: Naevius, Plautus, and Terence
The Tragic Tradition
Patriotism and History in Poetry and Prose
The First Latin History: Cato's Origines
From the Gracchi to Sulla: Lucilian Satire and the New Individualism
Catullus and Lucretius
Chapter Two
Rome at the End of the Republic
Roman Education, for Better or Worse
Literature and Nationalism
Literature and the Amateur
Literary Studies and the Recreation of Literary History
Literature and Scholarship: Cicero's Evidence for the Studies of Caesar and Varro
Chapter Three
The Coming of the Principate: "Augustan" Literary Culture
The Survivors: The New Poets Gallus and Virgil
The Roman Poetry Book, a New Literary Form
Private and Public Patronage
The Emperor as Theme and Patron
The Best of Patrons, and the Patron's Greater Friend
Performance and Readership
Spoken and Written Prose in Augustan Society: Rhetoric as Training and Display
The First Real Histories
Chapter Four
Un-Augustan Activities
The Literature of Youth
Love and Elegy
Ovid the Scapegoat, and the Sorrows of Augustus
Innocence and Power of the Book
Chapter Five
An Inhibited Generation: Suppression and Survival
Permissible Literature: Prose
Moral Treatises and Letters
Didactic and Descriptive Poetry
The Tastes and Prejudices of Augustus's Imperial Successors
The Divergence of Theater and Drama
Chapter Six
Between Nero and Domitian: The Challenge to Poetry
The Neronian Revival
Poetry and Parody in a New Setting
Vicissitudes of the Epic Muse
Professional Poets in the Time of Domitian
Chapter Seven
Literature and the Governing Classes: From the Accession of Vespasian to the Death of Trajan
Equestrian and Senatorial Writers: A Changing Elite
Choices of Literary Career: Fame or Survival?
Pliny's Letters and His Literary World
The Public World of the Senator and Orator
The World of the Auditorium
Chapter Eight
Literary Culture in Decline: The Antonine Years
Hadrian, the Philhellene
The Traveling Sophists
The Provinces and Latin Culture
Marcus Aurelius and His Teachers
Aulus Gellius, the Eternal Student in Rome and Greece
Apuleius, the Ultimate Word Artist
Chapter Nine
Classical Literary Culture and the Impact of Christianity
Tertullian and His Successors
Diocletian and a Generation of Political Change
Ausonius
The Controversy over the Altar of Victory: Symmachus and Prudentius
Claudian
The Maturity of Christian Prose: Jerome and Augustine
Macrobius: The Last Celebrant of Secular Literary Culture
Notes
Bibliography
Index

Author Bio
Featured Contributor

Elaine Fantham

Elaine Fantham is Giger Professor Emerita of Latin at Princeton University and an honorary fellow at Trinity College, University of Toronto. She is former president of the American Philological Association and was awarded a Distinguished Service Medal by the association in 2009. She is a coauthor of Women in the Classical World: Image and Text.