Latin Literature: Notes and Quotes

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Latin Literature: Notes and Quotes
**Hadas: the nature of Latin literature

formed from Greek with adornment:

Livius Andronicus translated Odyssey (c. 240 BC)

Plautus and Terence adopted Greek New Comedy of Menander

Horace claimed to adapt Greek meters to Latin

Lucretius adapted Epicureanism to Rome

Vergil's Eclogues virtually translated Theocritus, his Georgics adapted

Theocritus etc., his Aeneid paralleled Homer's works

smaller audience than classical Greek, more serious than Hellenism

"Latin literature is a borrowed creature."

scriba: poet or clerk

Roman character and literature spread throughout Europe.

Rome looked west; hence, Greek through Etruscan from very early Rome.

influence of Cumae: temple of Apollo, sibylline prophecies

Etruscan alphabet (variation of Greek), aristocracy, lucumones

Our version of Roman history is from late 3rd century BC: parallels with Greeks,

myths, tradition of 753 BC and seven kings, Roman expansion and

conflict of the orders (patricians vs plebeians), early heroes idealized

because of conflict with Carthage

Aeneid magnifies an institution (Rome), not an individual hero (except insofar as

Aeneas represents Rome or Roman virtues)

Roman heroes strut on their stage: epic, history, drama; gravitas, dignitas, austeritas,

integritas, fortitudo, pietas, following mos maiorum;

linguistic equivalent: responsibility, formalism, finish, formulae, sententiae


Festus: Scriba proprio nomine antiqui et librarios et poetas vocabant.

(Ancients properly by name of scribe labeled both 'bookster' and poet.)

Cato: Poeticae artis honos non erat. (Poetic skill had no honor.)

Polybius: Can anyone be so indifferent or idle as not to care by what means and under what kind of polity almost the entire inhabited world was conquered and brought under the dominion of the single city of Rome, and that within a period of not quite 53 years?

Ennius: Moribus antiquis res stat Romana virtusque. (Roman power rests on ancient habits.)

Livy: Go and proclaim to the Romans that it is the will of heaven that my Rome shall be the capital of the world...They must know and they must transmit to posterity the knowledge that no human resources can avail against Roman arms.

Vergil: Others, I doubt not, shall beat out the breathing bronze with softer lines, shall from marble draw forth the features of life, shall plead their causes better, with the rod shall trace the paths of heaven and tell the rising of the stars: remember thou, O Roman, to tell the nations of thy sway: these shall be thine arts: to crown peace with law, to spare the humbled, and to tame in war the proud.

(Aeneid VI: 847...)

Ammianus Marcellinus: At the time when Rome first began to rise into a position of worldwide splendor, destined to live so long as men shall exist, in order that she might grow into a towering stature, Virtue and Fortune, normally at variance, formed a pact of eternal peace.

Books and readers in the ancient world: Cambridge History of Classical Literature: II 1)

oral culture: reading aloud (until c. 380 AD)

few Latin papyri survive

Ennius' decision to use dactylic hexamemter formally united Latin and Greek cultures.

Did a Greco-Roman culture exist?

Juvenal/Lucian: mutual hatred of Romans/Greeks

vs. Catullus/Cicero: assume Roman audience knew Greek

Marrou: Latin poetry came into existence so that teachers might have something to argue.

Cicero and Vergil became contemporary school texts.

**Quintilian: recte loquendi scientiam et poetarum ennarrationes

(the science of speaking rightly and telling poems)

litterator: form preceded sense, drill in letters

grammaticus: praelectio and ennarratio in great detail

Quintilianí's canon was narrowed by 400 AD to Vergil, Trenece, Sallust, Cicero

purpose of rhetoric: less need for real politics, declamation a public spectacle

Seneca the Elder: Suasoria and Controversia

literature of an elite except drama and some oratory; small public trials (recitation)

**Horace: nescit vox missa reverti (once released the voice cannot be recalled)

may explain executors who edit postumously a text (e.g., Lucretius)

circles of Scipio and Catulus did not share political programs

by time of Augustus: patronage or independently wealthy, but opposition circle of

Messala Corvinus: Ovid, Tibullus

papyrus: roll liber: bark volumen: roll paginae: pages

explicare evoluere umbilici ad umbilicos explicare titulae

width of pages one hexameter = 35 letters

2nd century AD Romans adopted continuous (cursive) writing.

volumen: 700-900 lines

edere: give up rights to text no copywright laws

some book trade

Martial and Juvenal: poetry equals poverty.

private collections; public library Pollio 39 BC, but hardly equal of Alexandria

after fire Domitian sent to Alexandria for copies of some texts

later monasteries bought texts or made copies from libraries

roll ----> codex and papyrus ----> parchment

Bible as codex first

2nd century AD: republican texts begin to disappear

epitomes, abstracts, school texts

Varro determined the Plautine canon (21 plays)

artificial dialect by 300 AD

literary criticism: Cicero, Horace, Quintilian

Aeneid 8.731: poem better without it

theft vs. adaptation

Perellius Faustus to Macrobius; rhetorical analysis, allegory, riddle, declamation

Quintilian: professional rhetor, sense of fitness that great men show

analysis of Pro Milone to show how Cicero criticizes Curio and favors Milo

Cicero as craftsman: De Oratore: appeals to sympathy and indignation

forensic speech becomes panegyric: licentious speech as a sign of public luxury!

poetry aims for satire

Ars Poetica
2) Beginnings of Roman Literature (Hadas 2 and Cambridge 2.3-4)

pre-240 BC: songs, chronicles, early inscriptions and speeches

carmina: mihi domo familiaeque nostrae, agrum terram fundumque meum

prohibessis defendas verruncesque: tricolon, pleonasm equals solemnity

**5th c BC at Praeneste: Manios me fhefaked Numasoio = Manius me fecit Numerio.

dedication at Tusculum: M. Fourio C.f. tribunos militare praedad Maurte dedit =

M. Furius C. f. tribunos militaris de praeda Marti dedit.

Scipio Barbatus: quoius forma virtutei parisuma fuit

records, chronicles, Annales, Fasti Capitolini, 12 Tables, Carmen Saliare/Arvale

eventually much became incomprehensible!

Fescennine verses lead to drama: Livy 7.2; challenged by some modern scholars
Appius Claudius 355-275 BC

Est unusquisque faber ipsae suae fortunae. Every man is the maker of his own fortune.

Negotium populo Romano melius quam otium committi. Business is better than leisure for the Roman people.
Livius Andronicus 284-204; 240 BC

translated Homer's Odyssey

born at Tarentum,

under Livius Salinator

native Saturnian meter: Hadas says not accentual

Virum mihi camena insece versutum I sing a song of a clever man: 

quando dies adveniet, quem profata Morta est: predicted day will come

Mirum videtur quod sit factum iam diu? Does it seem wondrous because it was done long ago?

cor frixit prae pavore, solvuntur frigore membra: examples of fear

at Ludi Romani of 240 BC: first comedy and tragedy

his Ajax derived from Sophocles

monodies: like opera

mythological plays: Ajax, Achilles, Aegisthus, Andromeda, Danae, Equus Troianus, Tereus, Hermione

influenced by Euripides, too

comedy: Gladiolus, Ludius from new comedy; Plautus superceded him

intercessory hymn for Second Punic War: 207 BC

Naevius 270-201

served in First Punic War


palliatae: Apella, Tarentilae

alii adnutat, alii adnictat, alium amat, alium tenet.

praetextae: Romulus, Clastidium

tragedies: Andromacha, Danae, ET, Hector, Hesione, Iphigenia, Lycurgus

epic: Bellum Punicum

7 books: deals with first Punic War

Greco-Roman world

Desubito famam tollunt, si quam solam videre in via.

They at once start rumors, if they see her alone in the street.

epitaph: Itaque postquamst Orchi traditus thesauro,

obliti sunt Romanae loquier lingua Latina.

When Naevius was handed to underworld, Romans forget to speak Latin.
Ennius 239-169

born at Rudiae

Greek, Oscan, and Latin


Cato brings him to Rome

partisan, yet patriotism, Roman grandeur

Horace: Numquam poetor nisi si podager: never poet unless ill

supported by Scipio Aemilianus and M. Fulvius Nobilior: mentioned in his works

wrote Annales, 20 tragedies, 2 praetextae, 2 comedies, 4 books of satires etc.

Annales: 18 books in dactylic hexameter of unfolding high destiny of Rome

**Hic vestrum pinxit maxima facta patrum. paint fathers' great deeds

Volito vivus per ora virum. live on through men's mouths

tragedies based on Aeschylus or Euripides, not Sophocles

Per ego deum sublimas subices umidos

unde oritur imber sonitu saevo et spiritu: note emotion

Otio qui nexcit uti plus negoti habet quam cum est

negotium in negotio. Iphigenia

There is a race of gods in heaven; and yet

They take no thought, it seems, over mankind's fate;

For if they did care, it would go well with well-doers,

And ill with ill-doers; but this, as things are, is not to be seen.

Quotes: saxo cere-comminuit-brum: head cut with tmesis

Musae quae pedibus magnum pulsatis Olympum: Annales I 1

O Tite tute tibi tanta tyranne tulisti: excessive alliteration

At tibi terribili sonitu taratantara dixit: clangor for arms

Incedunt arbusta per alta, securibus caedunt...: calm vs human action

arbustum fremitu silvai frondosai. (N.B. -ai for later -ae)

olli respondit rex Albai longai: Vergil uses archaic olli = illi

reges per regnum statuasque sepulchraque quaerunt:

aedificant nomen, summa nituntur opum vi...

kings seek through power statues and tombs:

they build a name, they strive with the greatest effort...

unus homo nobis cunctando restituit rem. One saved country by delay.

noenum rumores ponebat ante salutem; not rumor before safety;

ergo postque magisque viri nunc gloria claret. 12: 370

All the more his glory shines forth.
Annales: 18 books

1-3 to fall of monarchy seems to have Aeneas found Rome

4-6 through Pyrrhus

7-9 mostly 2nd Punic War (Naevius had done the first Punic War)

10-12 up to Antiochus III

13-15: 191-0 BC

16-18 perhaps next 87 years

his satires NOT in dactylic hexameter


own feelings


didactic poem showing change from myth to natural substance:


"Jupiter is the name for all I have spoken of, since he rejuvenates all men, cities, and beasts."

Marcus Porcius Cato (Cato the Ekder) 234-149 BC

The following perhaps spurious quote gives some idea of his pesonalty:

Fures privatorum in nevo atque in competibus aetatem agunt. Fures publici in auro atque in purpura.

Private thieves live in chains and prison, public thieves live in gold and purple vestments.
Pacuvius 220-130

painter born at Brundisium

retired to Tarentum

dozen tragedies: Paulus, others mythological

complicated plots

'who understand the speech of birds and learn more wisdom from another's liver'

Cedo tuum pedem mi, lymphis flavis fulvum ut pulverem

manibus isdem, quibus Ulixi saepe permulsi, abluam

lassitudinemque minuam manuum solitudine. Niptra

Give me your feet, that in yellow water I may wash away the yellow dust with these same hands with which I often soothed Ulysses' and with the softness of my hands let me wash away your weariness.'
Accius: 170-86

born at Pisaurum

freedmen parents

knew Cicero

nephew of Pacuvius

40-50 mythological tragedies

emotional sententiae

"Possessed by his wild mood and savage spirit Tereus gazed upon her, maddened with burning passion; in his madness he resolves a cursed deed." Tereus

"Though fortune could strip me of kingdom and wealth, it cannot strip me of my virtue." Telephus

Wide awake a man must always be; many are the ambushes laid for the good and bad.

**Oderint dum metuant. (Let them hate so long as they fear.) Atreus

praetextae: Decius, Brutus (banned in 44 BC)
more Ennius quotes

Musae quae pedibus magnum pulsatis Olympum Annales I 1

muses, who with your feet strike great Olympus

Nam populos Italos rem atque poemata nostra cluebunt,

'for my subject and poem shall have renown among the peoples of Italy'

somno leni placidoque revinctus tied in light sleep

visus Homerus adesse poeta Homer the poet seemed to be present

Quom veter occubuit Priamus sub Marte Pelasgo aged Priam struck down under war

transnavit cita per teneras caliginis auras quickly crossed through slender mist

Est locus, Hesperiam quam mortales perhibebant a place mortals called Western land

O gnata, tibi sunt ante ferendae O daughter, first you must endure woes;

aerumnae, post ex fluvio fortuna resistet. then your fortune will rise (?) from a river

Teque pater Tiberine tuo cum flumine sancto And you father Tiber with holy flood

Haec ecfatus, ibique latrones dicta facessunt. By his command the robbers acted.

Iuno Vesta Minerva Ceres Diana Venus Mars

Mercurius Iovis Neptunus Vulcanus Apollo

Unus erit quem tu tolles in caerula caeli templa. One you will raise to the sky.

Iuppiter, ut muro fretus magis quamde manus vi! relies on wall not strength

Nec pol homo quisquam faciet impune animatas You or other will be punished;

hoc nec tu; nam mi calido dabis sanguine poenas. You will pay with hot blood.

O Tite tute Tati tibi tanta tyranni tulisti!

Romulus in caelo cum dis genitalibus aevum degit. Romulus lives with gods in sky.

Mensas constituit idemque ancilia. He established tables and shields.

At tuba terribili sonitu taratantara dixit.

Tarquinio dedit imperium simul et sola regni. gave Tarquin power and throne

Inicit inritatus, tenet occasus, iuvat res. single combat?

Aio te Aiacida Romanos vincere posse. ambiguous prophecy

Navus repertus homo, Graio patre Graius homo, rex. navus: active

Nec mi aurum posco nec mi pretium dederitis I demand neither gold nor reward

nec cauponantes bellum sed belligerantes not hesitating but fighting

ferro non auro vitam cernamus utrique. by sword not gold let us contest.

Poeni suos soliti dis sacrificare puellos Punic sacrificed sons to gods

Certare abnueo; metuo legionibus labem. I choose not to fight; I fear ruin.

Hostem qui feriet mihi erit Karthaginiensis, Whoever strikes at Rome will be a

quisquis erit; quoiatis siet. Carthaginian, whoever he may be.

Multa dies in bello conficit unus... One day causes much in war...

et rursus multae fortunae forte recumbunt; again by chance fortune falls;

haudquaquam quemquam semper fortuna secuta est. Fortune is not eternal.

Africa terribili tremit horrida terra tumultu. Africa trembles with horrid sound.

Insece, Musa, manu Romanorum induperator Muse, tell what each leader did

quod quisque in bello gessit cum rege Philippo. in war with King Philip.

Unus homo nobis cunctando restituit rem. One man saved country by delay.

Noenum rumores ponebat ante salutem; put safety before rumor, glory now shines

ergo postque magisque viri nunc gloria claret.

Nunc est ille dies quom gloria maxima sese Now is the day when great glory

nobis ostendat, si vivimus sive morimur. shows to us, if we live or die

Reges per regnum statuasque sepulchraque quaerunt; kings seek through power statues and tombs

aedificant nomen, summa nituntur opum vi. they build a name, they strive with the greatest effort.

.Moribus antiquis res stat Romana virisque. State stands on old manners and power.

Nec metus ulla tenet; freti virtute quiescunt. With no fear they rest in strength.

Qui vicit non est victor nisi victus fatetur. victor only if vanquished concedes

Deque tetondit agros laetos atque oppida cepit. he strpped fields and took cities

Omnes mortales sese laudarier optant. All mortals wish to be praised.

(all above from Annales)
Serva cives, defende hostes, cum potes defendere. Achilles

Save your men, drive back (!) the enemy, when you can.

Quod est ante pedes nemo spectat, caeli scrutantur plagas. No one looks down, all scan sky for plague.
Multis sum modis circumventus, morbo exilio atque inopia; Alcmaeon

tum pavor sapientiam omnem mi exanimato expectorat;

mater terribilem minatur vitae cruciatum et necem,

quae nemo est tam firmo ingenio et tanta confidentia

quin refugiat timido sanguen atque exalbescat metu.

I am surrounded by many woes-- by disease, exile, and want; fear drives me out of my wits; mother threatens me with horrid torture and death, horrors. No one so firm and trusty can withstand this, but his blood would not flee him in his fright and he himself not urn white with fear.
Mater gravida parere se ardentem facem Alexander

visa est in somnis Hecuba, quo facto pater

rex ipse Priamus somnio mentis metu

perculsus, curis sumptus suspirantibus

exsacrificababt hostilis balantibus.

My pregnant mother Hecuba in a dream seemed to give birth to a burning

torch; my father King Priam himself, fearing the dream,

crushed by sighing cares, sacrificed bleating victims.

**O pater, O patria, O Priami domus! Andromache
Lapideo sunt corde multi quos non miseret neminis. Erechtheus

many stone-hearted with pity for no one
nisi patrem materno sanguine exanclando ulciscerem. Eumenides

'unless by spilling out my mother's blood my father I avenged'
Aes sonit franguntur hastae terra sudat sanguine. Hector

Bronze resounds, spears break, Earth sweats with blood."

Melius est virtute ius, nam saepe virtutem mali

nanciscuntur; ius atque aecum se a malis spernit procul.

"A better thing than bravery is justice;

For bravery the wicked often attain;

But justice and fair play do spurn themselves

Far from the wicked."

Nimium boni est huic cui nihil est mali in diem. a good to suffer no ill

Amicus certus in re incerta cernitur. A friend in need is a friend indeed.

Iuppiter tibi summe tandem male re gesta gratulor. ill deed done, I give you thanks

Ego proiector quod tu peccas? Tu delinquis, ego arguor? I taunted for your wrong?

Pro malefactis Helena redeat, virgo pereat innocens? Helen return, innocent die?

Tua reconcilietur uxor, mea necetur filia? wife OK, daughter die?

Otio qui nescit uti quom otium est, in otio not use leisure rightly,

plus negoti habet quam quom est negotium in negotio... work in leisure

Incerte errat animus, praeter propter vitam vivitur. weakling lives only for life
nam numquam era errans mea domo efferret pedem Medea

would never have left her house

nam ter sub armis malim vitam cernere rather fight three times than one birthing

quam semel modo parere.

Salvete optima corpora; good bye sweet ones;

cette manus vestras measque accipite. give me your hands and take mine.

inspice hoc facinus priusquam fiat, prohibessis scelus. see this deed first and prevent it

Sed virum vera virtute vivere animatum addecet Nemea

fortiterque innoxium stare adversum adversarios.

Ea libertas est qui pectus purum et firmum gestitat;

aliae res obnoxiosae nocte in obscura latent.

"But it behooves a man to live a life

Inspired with virtue true, to stand steadfast

With guiltless bravery in the face of foes.

The man who bears himself both pure and staunch--

That is true liberty, All conduct else

Lies lurking in dim darkness, fraught with guilt."

Tum tu isti crede te atque exerce linguam ut argutarier possis. trust self to him and train tongue to deceive

Ego deum genus est semper dixi et dicam caelitum; Telamon

sed eos non curare opinor quid agat humanum genus. I believe that there are gods but they care not what we do.

Nam si curent, bene bonis sit, male malis; quod nunc abest.

For if they cared, good would gain good, bad bad, which does not happen.
Palam muttire plebeio piaculum est. It is dangerous for commoner to speak openly. Telephus
Quem metuunt oderunt, quem quisque odit periisse expetit. unassigned

Whom they fear they hate; whom they hate they wish dead.

Vivam an moriar nulla in me est metus. I don't care whether I live or die.

Aliquot somnia vera sunt sed omnia non necesse est. comedy

Ille est nugator, nil, non nauci homo. a nothing, a nobody comedy

Malo hercle magno suo convivat sine modo! evil to live without restraint Saturae

Resistant occurrunt obstant obstringillant obagitant. They loiter, meet, hinder, hamper, and harrass.

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