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Greek Literature- literature of the Greek-speaking peoples from about the 8th century to 1st century
to the present.
This literature developed as a national expression with little outside influence until the Hellenistic Age (4th and it had a formative effect upon all succeeding European literature.
THE EARLY PERIOD
Writings produced during the early period of Greek literature were almost exclusively in verse.
Versification- art of making verses, or the theory of the phonetic structure of verse. - This theory considers the phonetic characteristics of verse both as absolute elements and as relative to the other, nonphonetic elements of verse. - Theoretically, any phonetic characteristics of a language, such as the number of syllables in an utterance, the degrees of energy or lengths of time taken to utter them, or even their pitch, may be organized into an orderly and symmetrical pattern. The study of versification in the poetry of different languages and periods must take account of these possibilities. Epic Poetry
The early inhabitants of Greece, the people of the Aegean and Mycenaean civilizations, possessed an oral literature largely composed of: 1. songs concerning wars, 2. harvests, 3. funerary rites The Greek epic reached its height in the Iliad and the Odyssey, composed by the poet Homer probably sometime in the 8th century dialect. The Homeric epics were disseminated by the recitations of professional poets who, in succeeding generations, made alterations in the originals, substituting contemporary phrases for recently obsolete ones. Mythical and heroic events that are not celebrated in the Homeric works or that are mentioned without being fully narrated became the subject matter of a number of subsequent epics, some fragments of which are extant. A group of these epics, composed from the 8th century to the 6th century Among the known epic poets, most of them of a later period, are: 1. Peisander of Rhodes, author of the Heracleia, concerning the deeds of the mythological hero Heracles 2. Panyassis of Halicarnassus, author of a work also called the Heracleia, of which only fragments survive 3. Eugammon of Cyrene, author of the Telegonia.
They were written in the dialect of the Greek language later called Ionic, with an admixture of the Aeolic
by a number of unknown
poets called the cyclic poets, concerns the Trojan War and the war of the Seven against Thebes.
Batrachomyomachia (Battle of the Frogs and Mice)- a parody of an epic poem
Hesiod (poet) – Works and Days – composed like the Homeric epics in the Ionic dialect with some admixture of Aeolic, is the first Greek poem to abandon legendary subject matter in favor of a theme drawn from everyday life: the experiences and thoughts of a Boeotian farmer. The Theogony, usually attributed to Hesiod, although some critics consider it of later authorship, is an account of the establishment of order from chaos and the birth of the gods. ELEGIAC – The elegiac couplet, or elegiac distich, became popular throughout Greece during the 7th century and was used for compositions of all kinds, ranging from dirges to love songs.
The surviving fragments of his work are of doubtful authenticity. although the surviving texts are all of a much later date. in the form of the iambic trimeter. the Dorian dialect was used even in later times. . Other celebrated elegiac poets of the 7th century were: 1. - by poets who wrote in the Dorian Dominant in the region around Sparta. Solon and many other poets used this meter also for reflective poems. Two main types of lyrics were composed in ancient Greece: the personal and the choral lyric. The poet and musician Terpander. especially of Apollo.Sappho. iambic verse came to be used also for the dialogue in tragedies. who wrote in the early 7th century BC. introduced the seven-string lyre and set the poems of Homer to music. who was born on Lesbos but lived much of his life in Sparta.2 The first known writer of elegiacs was. The elegiac poet Theognis of Megara lived in the 6th century. composed their poems in the Aeolic dialect. religious. Archilochus – is said to have invented iambic verse and he used it extensively in biting satires. and poems in iambic meters. as well as a number of later lyric poets from other Greek cities. T he Spartan poets first wrote choral lyrics for songs and dances in public religious celebrations. Subsequent verse similar in tone and theme was known as anacreontic. Later they wrote choral lyrics also to celebrate private occasions. Mimnermus of Colophon 3. Archilochus of Paros 4. The Lesbian poets. such as a victory at the ancient Olympic Games. PERSONAL LYRIC – The personal lyric was developed on the island of Lesbos (now Lésvos). Most of his poems were nomes. Lyric Poetry The lyric was originally a song to be sung to the accompaniment of the lyre. epigrams. SAPPHIC STROPHE. TERPANDER – Terpander was followed later in the 7th century BC by the great poets of Lesbos. invented the Sapphic strophe and wrote also in other lyric forms. perhaps. when poets in many other parts of Greece were writing choral lyrics. and sung by a single performer to the accompaniment of the lyre. BC CHORAL LYRIC – The choral lyric was first developed in the 7th century dialect. or liturgical hymns. Solon 5. ANACREONTIC – In the 6th century BC the playful lyrics of the poet Anacreon on wine and love were written in various lyric meters. ALCAIC STROPHE – Alcaeus treated political. written in honor of a god. the first Athenian poet. Because it represents the rhythms of ancient Greek speech more faithfully than does any other meter. Anacreon also wrote elegiac distichs. Her poems of love and friendship are among the most finely wrought and passionate in the Western tradition. the greatest woman poet of ancient Greece. Callinus of Ephesus. The fables of Aesop were written originally in iambic trimeter. Tyrtaeus of Sparta 2. and personal themes in his lyrics and invented the Alcaic strophe.
Alcman. including epigrams 8. or choral hymns that celebrated particular persons. His tragedies.a contemporary of Alcaeus. one of the Titans. who wrote both personal and choral lyrics 3. BC reputedly came from Crete (Kríti) to Sparta in order to quell an epidemic with paeans.a nephew of Simonides. consisting of a series of groups of three stanzas 6. who in the 7th century Apollo. and dithyrambs. Toward the end of the 5th century some of the earliest Greek prose works now surviving were produced. who is credited with introducing spoken passages for an actor to complement the lyric utterances Prometheus Bound.whose choral lyrics included epinicia. and the tragic mode. or hymn to Dionysus. the story of the punishment of Prometheus.who wrote many choral lyrics of every type. and epinicia.most of whose poems were partheneia. or choral odes in honor of victors at the Olympian Games.author of a large extant fragment of a triadic choral ode and of erotic personal lyrics 7. Pindar. THE ATTIC PERIOD. . 6TH CENTURY TO 4TH CENTURY BC The drama had been developing meanwhile in Athens during the 6th century Later. dithyrambs. as well as personal lyrics. Athenian poet Aeschylus included the role of a second actor. Stesichorus. or choral hymns addressed to Other Forms In the 6th and 5th centuries BC such Greek philosophers as Empedocles. of which 13 are extant. who introduced the triadic form of choral ode.is said to have invented both the dithyramb.The earliest choral lyric poet is said to have been Thaletas. processional choral hymns sung by a chorus of young girls and partly religious in character and lighter in tone than the paean 4. their son. a trilogy portraying the murder of the Greek hero Agamemnon by his wife. These qualities are especially conspicuous in Oedipus Rex. About one-quarter of his works are extant. 2.3 CHORAL LYRIC POETS 1. the drama consisted of a chorus of men who sang and danced choral odes. and dirges. including: 1. BC by Attic poet Thespis. 2. Tragedy Tragic drama as we know it today is said to have been originated in the 6th century of the chorus. numbering about 80. which was used extensively in Greek drama. BC In its earliest form. Oresteia. treat such lofty themes as the nature of divinity and the relations of human beings to the gods. including paeans. her murder by SOPHOCLES – The second great Greek tragedian was Sophocles. Only seven of his tragedies are extant. Xenophanes. the most notable being those on medicine attributed to the physician Hippocrates. encomia. and Orestes’ subsequent fate. of which five are extant. and Parmenides BC developed a genre of philosophical poem using the epic verse and diction of Homer and Hesiod. 5. chiefly epinicia having the triadic structure invented by Stesichorus. Bacchylides of Ceos . an actor who engaged in dialogue with the chorus was added. by the god Zeus. Thaletas . Ibycus of Rhegium. Orestes. 9. The meticulous construction of his plots and the manner in which his themes and characters aroused both pity and fear led Aristotle as well as other Greek critics to consider him the greatest writer of tragedy. Arion. Simonides of Ceos. Terpander. who wrote both epinicia.
ridicule of myths. His major works include: 1. BC) Middle Comedy (400-336 - In Middle Comedy. These works represent the genre known as Old Comedy.The earliest Greek historian. only seven tragedies. Alexis of Thurii.Euripides. was the third great Greek playwright. His History is valued for the wealth of information it presents about ancient Greece as well as for its charming style. Antiphanes of Athens BC 2. and his fate after rejecting her. an innovation that was adopted by his older contemporary Aeschylus. about the revenge taken by the enchantress Medea on her husband. Using dramatic satire. both written between 392 and 388 BC—personal and political satire is replaced by parody. and the themes of romantic love. The Cyclops. Hippolytus. gave an account of the Persian Wars (490479 BC). he ridiculed Euripides in The Frogs and Socrates in The Clouds. plot and character development. some critics consider him the most modern of the Greek tragedy writers. of which 18 tragedies (one of doubtful authorship) and one complete satyr play. His special contribution to tragedy was the introduction of a third actor on the stage. and extensive portions of other plays survive as well. The chief writers of Middle Comedy were: 1. His works are considered more realistic than those of his predecessors. One complete play by Menander. and literary and philosophical criticism. Medea.One of the greatest comic poets was Aristophanes. BC. Hippolytus. EURIPIDES . He wrote about 92 plays. Jason. who were active in the 4th and early 3rd centuries New Comedy (336-250 BC) In New Comedy. whose first comedy. exemplified by two later works of Aristophanes—Ecclesiazusae and Plutus. especially in the psychological insight of his characterizations. MENANDER – The chief writer of New Comedy His comedies had a strong influence upon the Latin dramatists of the 3rd and 2nd centuries Plautus and Terence. now lost. Daitaleis. The Curmudgeon. . are extant. about Phaedra’s love for her stepson. notably History HERODOTUS .4 Of the more than 120 plays that Sophocles wrote. 2. a satyr play (a type of comedy). Because of this. and more than 1000 fragments are extant. was produced in 427 BC. Comedy ARISTOPAHNES . writing in the Ionic dialect. is extant. satire is almost entirely replaced by social comedy involving family types. a younger contemporary of Sophocles.
having many qualities common to poetry and drama.wrote a history of Sicily and reportedly devised the method of reckoning time by the Olympiads.Of these. ANTIPHON . an account of Greek mercenaries who were marooned in Persia after the defeat and death of Cyrus the Younger 2. BC. Greek culture spread throughout his . Plato’s dialogues are not only great philosophical works but also literary masterpieces. and in his History of the Peloponnesian War he emerges as the first critical historian. including Cicero.a pupil of Plato. a refutation of the charges brought against Socrates. Philosophy The two major Greek philosophical writers in the Attic period were Plato and Aristotle. Of Aristotle’s literary criticism.5 THUCYDIDES . It is said that he wrote a speech for Socrates to use at his trial in 399 BC. in the form of written dialogues. of his character and philosophy. epic poetry. wrote a large number of works on logic. he composed speeches that became models for subsequent orators. Because Greek culture was so widespread in the Mediterranean world during this period. only the sections on tragedy. rhetoric.developed certain aspects of the philosophy of Socrates and expressed.The full perfection of Greek oratory was achieved in his works Utilizing all the resources of the language. THE HELLENISTIC AGE. together with personal reminiscences. Anabasis. Some classical scholars believe that the extant texts are actually notes taken by students from Aristotle’s lectures delivered at the Lyceum. TIMAEUS.In the early 4th century soldier-historian Xenophon wrote: 1. ARISTOTLE .are literary works intended to be read rather than spoken. LYSIAS . The speeches of ISOCRATES . XENOPHON . it is commonly known as the Hellenistic Age (from Hellas. 3. Hellenica. the type of philosophy later called idealism. ‖Greece‖).The orator Lysias used a simple. in which Xenophon continued Greek history from the point at which Thucydides left off. his school in Athens.was the first great Attic prose writer. in the form of conversations. PLATO . and politics. the earliest whose works have survived was Antiphon. Oratory Attic prose reached its most mature expression in the works of the Athenian orators. a teacher of rhetoric in the 5th century BC. DEMOSTHENES . metaphysics. ethics. Memorabilia. forthright style devoid of extravagant rhetorical devices. and rhetoric exist. His prose style is one of the clearest and most beautiful in Greek literature. 4TH CENTURY TO 1ST CENTURY BC Following the conquests of Alexander the Great in the 4th century vast empire.
the greatest of the ancient anatomists. THE GRECO-ROMAN PERIOD. who measured the circumference of the earth. who did most of his work in Alexandria and is considered by many critics to be the greatest of the Alexandrian poets. who wrote an epic poem.Third-century Sicilian poet Theocritus.After the Roman conquest of Greece in 146 conquest STRABO .the master of a school in Alexandria and member of the staff of the Alexandrian library. PTOLEMY . the physician Herophilus 2. and geographer Eratosthenes. Egypt Poetry CALLIMACHUS .6 The most outstanding of the many literary schools that came into being and the greatest library of antiquity were located in the city of Alexandria. Bion of Smyrna. the mathematician. THEOCRITUS . 2ND CENTURY BC TO 4TH CENTURY AD POLYBIUS . He and his followers improved the use of meter and invented the epyllion. only six hymns. and a few elegies and other poems are extant. wrote works that determined the course of Western medical practice for 1400 years. and local nomenclature. 64 epigrams. and objects of interest. GALEN . particularly: 1. the anatomist Erasistratus 3. They also developed the purely literary didactic poem and pastoral poetry. the astronomers Hipparchus and Aristarchus of Sámos (the first to maintain that the earth revolves around the sun). 4. a systematic study of places. wrote the Idylls.In the late 1st and early 2nd centuries AD BC. a type of miniature epic. including a catalog of the contents of the entire Alexandrian library and specialized monographs on such topics as foreign customs. KOINE . 2nd-century successors: 1. the court and literary language of Hellenistic Greece. Galen. Europa. Of his many works.The early Christian writers who transcribed and compiled the New Testament made use of a variety of the Koine (Greek for ―common‖). a series of pastoral poems. astronomer. PLUTARCH .Later in the 2nd century AD. in which biographies of celebrated Greeks are paired with those of notable Romans. Prose Possibly the most influential work of the Hellenistic Age was done by scientific and scholarly writers. animals. among whose 18 extant poems is the famous Lament for Adonis 2. .the Alexandrian astronomer. the names of the months. the Greek historian Polybius wrote an account of that Plutarch produced his famous Parallel Lives. which was later adopted by their Roman disciples.a century later the geographer Strabo compiled his Geographica. Sicilian poet Moschus. and they perfected the epigram. Callimachus is credited with writing more than 800 volumes. and pastoral verse.
respectively. by Achilles Tatius. particularly by Saint Gregory of Nazianzus and by Cosmas of Jerusalem in the 8th century. known. 100 and before AD 300: 1. but are reunited in the end. Chaereas and Callirhoe. and True History.Some of the finest verse of the period consists of anonymous epigrams in the Greek Anthology. by Xenophon. All of the works are romantic stories of love and adventure in which virtuous lovers or spouses are separated and made to endure many perils. Greek literature lacked the homogeneous character of the earlier periods and was strongly CAPPADOCIAN FATHERS . THE BYZANTINE PERIOD. considered the earliest of the five works 2. The most important extant fragments of an early Greek novel.Saint Basil of Caesarea. SYMEON METAPHRASTES . possibly of Ephesus. Dialogues of the Gods. which revised and compared older accounts of saints’ lives. The Foundation of Knowledge. by Longus. GREEK MYTHOLOGY . or Theagenes and Charicleia. NEOPLATONISM . dealing with the love of Ninos. Aethiopica. It is composed of two books conjoined in the 10th and 14th centuries AD. the best of whom was the satirist Lucian. The greater part of the writings of this period are theological and attack the various heresies that arose during the first millennium of the Christian era. STOICISM .The Neoplatonists found their chief exponent in Plotinus. the most famous and probably the best of these novelists 4. the latter a comic narrative work.Numerous hymns were composed by him in the 6th century. author of Dialogues of the Dead.In the 10th century. by the skillful writer Heliodorus of Emesa 3. wrote polemics against the Iconoclasts.According to modern scholars. the socalled Atticists. and by the early Fathers of the Church. MID-4TH CENTURY TO 15TH CENTURY From the beginning of the reign of Constantine the Great in influenced by both Latin and Eastern elements. Saint Gregory of Nyssa. compiled the Acts of the Martyrs. SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS . Leucippe and Clitophon. legendary founder of Nineveh. by Chariton. those of the so-called Ninos Romance. until the fall of the Byzantine Empire in 1453. NINOS ROMANCE . Ephesiaca.Stoic philosophy was represented in the writings of Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius. the least skillful of the novelists 5. or Anthia and Habrocomes. the prototype of the novel probably was developed in Greece sometime before the 2nd century AD. are thought to be of the 1st century Five extant complete Greek novels were written after AD BC. thought to be the latest of the five extant novels. AD 324. ROMANUS MELODUS .in the 4th century assailed Arianism in the 6th century Anastasius of Antioch and Leontius of Byzantine attacked Monophysitism. SAINT ATHANASIUS .In the 8th century the last of the great Greek theologians. Daphnis and Chloe. . as well as one of the earliest books on Christian dogma.7 The Koine dialect is distinct from the one used by the classical Greek writers and their imitators. a collection of Greek poetry and prose covering almost 2000 years. as the Palatine Anthology and the Planudean Anthology. and Saint Gregory of Nazianzus were of importance both as writers and as influences on subsequent theology.
probably written by a Greek-speaking Frenchman of the third generation. outside the Ottoman Empire. however. A major literary work that resulted from this occupation was The Chronicle of the Morea (14th century). The period also saw the production of two of the greatest Cretan works in demotic. EUSTATHIUS of THESSALONICA . An important legendary and historical poem. In the mid-15th century the Byzantine Empire and the remnant of the Franks in Greece were swept away by the Ottoman Empire. the writing of secular verse declined. now ranked by some as a national epic 2.8 - Because of ecclesiastical influence. who introduced Platonic philosophy to the Italian Renaissance. under the control of the Venetians. Greek: 1. critics. GEORGIUS PLETHO . Emperor Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus 2. a work that originated among the common people in the 10th or 11th century and was spread orally by folk singers before being written down. carried with it a horde of Frankish invaders who established themselves in central and southern Greece with such titles as duke of Athens or baron of Thebes. . and philosophers. Noteworthy among the historians were: 1. the romantic poem Erotókritos by Vitzéntzos Kornáros.The greatest of the Byzantine critics. and the Greek tragedians. whose summaries and extracts of 280 classical works still extant in the 9th century preserved much that might otherwise have been lost. Dramas written during this period. was the literary center of Greece during the 16th and 17th centuries. These are the songs of the Greek mountain fighters who carried on guerrilla warfare against the Ottomans. he wrote a commentary on the works of classical authors. and Greek literature suffered an eclipse. The epic is remarkable for the beauty of the poetry. - Also of importance from the literary point of view were the Byzantine historians.Of importance among Byzantine philosophers was the highly original thinker Georgius Gemistus Pletho. or colloquial. Cretan Writings Crete. such as the Erophile of Georgios Hortatzis. John VI Cantacuzene. perhaps Kornáros The flourishing Cretan school was all but terminated by the Ottoman capture of the island in the 17th century. was the remarkable popular epic Digenis Akritas. Until the end of the 18th century it continued to flourish only on the periphery of the Greek world. Michael Psellus 3. The Sacrifice of Abraham (1635). Pindar. THE MODERN PERIOD The Fourth Crusade. including Hesiod. were largely patterned after Italian models. Anna Comnena 4. Georgius Pachymeres 5. a psychological drama of family relationships by an anonymous author. however. a long epic poem in swinging Greek verse.In the 12th century. launched in 1204. PHOTIUS . and the easy flow of a vividly descriptive colloquial idiom. Procopius. survive from the 18th century. The ballads of the klephts. its dramatic force.
9 Classical Versus Demotic Greek Toward the end of the 18th century. fierce controversy raged around the issue of language. urged the use of a combined language. Instruction was conservative. In the 19th century. however. to CHARACTERISTICS OF LATIN LITERATURE . In the 18th century some poets turned to the classical tradition instead. written in the Latin language. Furthermore. Since the Byzantine period (4th century to 15th century) a rich. Adamantios Korais. an acquaintance with classical Latin (as well as Greek) literature was basic to a liberal education. among them Alexandre Rizos Rangabé. assuming that ancient Hellas was about to arise from its ashes. While patriots and poets wrote copiously. the education of all Greeks was undertaken by the church. and the language that was used preserved the antique forms of Byzantine Greek. and a more classical form of Greek for professional and scientific writing. and of much of western Europe through the Middle Ages (5th century to 15th century) and into the Renaissance (14th century to 17th century). Latin literature. It was written in demotic Greek. poets tended increasingly to use the more expressive demotic Greek. and novelist. With the rise of Renaissance humanism in the 14th century and its emphasis on reviving the classical forms of the ancient world came a new burst of creativity in Latin. All rights reserved.literature of ancient Rome. self-perpetuating folk poetry had flourished in Greece. Latin Literature Latin Literature. many of the Greek patriots writing abroad. BC. a language problem developed that was to afflict Greek literature for many decades. demotic is used for literature. one that was neither ancient nor modern. Until recent times. in Western culture. poet. THE LATIN TRADITION Latin literature first appeared in the 3rd century the present. and its tradition has continued. © 1993-2008 Microsoft Corporation. Microsoft ® Encarta ® 2009. in various forms. A number carried on the classical tradition in the 19th century. imposed an archaic vocabulary and grammar on the modern idiom. a learned classicist living in Paris. The disintegration of the Roman Empire between the 2nd and 5th century and the gradual development of the Romance languages out of Vulgar Latin (the nonliterary language of the general populace) did not for centuries affect the position of Latin as the preeminent literary language of western Europe. in a Christianized form. Under Ottoman domination. The language dichotomy can easily be traced in the area of poetry. and for decades. Among these were Konstantinos Rhigas and Iakovos Rhizos Neroulos. Today. which lasted into the 17th century. historian. a natural medium for narrative and lyrical verse. orally transmitted. when Latin served as the official language of the Roman Catholic church. continued to develop during the Middle Ages. dreams of liberation began to inspire the Greeks.
EARLY PERIOD LUCIUS LIVIUS ADRONICUS . many Roman writers were concerned with emphasizing the specifically Roman quality of their experience. The greatest accomplishments of Roman literature are found in epic and lyric poetry. Perhaps because of their close formal dependence on Greek models. produced during the last three decades of the 3rd century. A powerful orator. His comedies. .21 plays of the first true genius in Roman literature are extant. almost all Roman writers had to come to terms with Rome’s civilizing mission in the world. famous for his Annales. Plautus’s world of benighted masters. for the development of later European literatures. a genre apparently invented by Ennius. history. GNAEUS NAEVIUS . he provided the first models for Roman rhetoric.The first really important Roman writer. Carthage. PLAUTUS . who refined his rugged style. CATO the ELDER . The lively and robust plays of Plautus served as a model for much subsequent European comedy and have been performed and imitated into modern times. a vigorous and energetic poem telling the story of Rome and its conquests in hexameter verse. comic drama. Ennius’s pioneering work served as the prototype for Roman epic and was affectionately imitated by later poets. and satire—the last genre being the only literary form the Romans invented. still survives. De Agri Cultura (160? BC). innocent maidens. were especially successful. Only fragments of Lucilius’s work have survived—a serious loss for the understanding of the Roman literary tradition. and he also composed the Bellum Poenicum.Latin literature began with Lucius Livius Andronicus. Comedy represents Rome’s most productive contribution to the development of drama. and young men hopelessly and absurdly in love was taken over by the second Roman comic genius. BC) fought between GAIUS LUCILIUS . was Gaius Lucilius. wily slaves. Terence.Terence’s plays are smoother and more graceful than those of his predecessor. less boisterously funny but perhaps more touching. rhetoric. was the earliest master of Roman prose.10 The literature of Rome was itself modeled on Greek literature and served in turn as the basic model. who gave it its standard form in which a sharply defined voice pokes ruthless fun at a wide range of human folly. especially in the Renaissance during the 14th and 15th centuries. He translated Homer’s epic the Odyssey into Latin verse and wrote the first dramas in Latin as well as translations of Greek plays. QUINTUS ENNIUS .The first native Roman writer who followed the example of Livius Andronicus. an epic poem on the First Punic War (264-241 Rome and its rival. His treatise on farming.a political conservative and the implacable enemy of Carthage. TERENCE .The great master of satire. Perhaps most important. which Ennius successfully adapted from Greek into Latin. who came to Rome as a Greekspeaking slave in the late 3rd century BC.
skillfully adapting Greek meters into Latin in the service of his own graceful voice.Virgil’s friend Horace made himself the master of the ode.The elegiac tradition was concluded by the work of Ovid. VIRGIL . others characterized by the sharp and mordant wit of his invective directed against his personal enemies. turbulent and restless records of his difficult affair with Cynthia. SEXTUS PROPERTIUS . in which the heroic world of Homer is recast as the backdrop for the founding of Rome. A voluminous poet. begun by Catullus. The last of the three books of poems attributed to him includes direct and affecting poems on love.The forerunner of the greatest age of Roman poetry whose didactic poem De Rerum Natura (On the Nature of Things) argues in eloquent hexameter verse that the gods do not intervene in human affairs. .wrote more dynamic and complex love elegies. These were followed by his graceful poem on farm life. however. In this complex work.The tradition of the love elegy. some of them pure and simple utterances of his love for a woman called Lesbia and for his dead brother.the first great lyric poet in Latin. the sufferings of Aeneas mute the patriotic grandeur of the theme. earnest voice has been a moving force in the history of the European lyric since the rediscovery of his work in the early Renaissance. CATULLUS . HORACE . the Georgics. THE GOLDEN AGE: PROSE Corresponding to the Golden Age of Roman poetry was an age of equal achievement in prose CICERO . in his own as well as in later times Early in his career he wrote the Eclogues. The best known of Cicero’s speeches are the vehement orations against the political conspirator Catiline. Virgil’s masterpiece. and are the only poems extant by a Roman woman. who treated the form in a playful manner. but many others are equally effective in the consummate care with which the rhythms and cadences of the Latin language are orchestrated to achieve spectacular rhetorical effects. an epic poem telling how the Trojan hero Aeneas came to Italy to found the settlement out of which Rome arose. His intense. but more characteristic of him are the shorter lyrics.The leading figure in prose a statesman and orator whose resonant and sonorous rhetoric became the model for later European oratory. was inspired by Greek models. ALBIUS TIBULLUS . was the Aeneid.11 THE GOLDEN AGE: POETRY LUCRETIUS . Each succeeding age has found in the Aeneid a message applicable to its own concerns. was continued in a gentle and wistful manner by Albius Tibullus. loosely woven epic retelling ancient myths in graceful and melancholy tones. These poems were actually written by his contemporary Sulpicia.Acknowledged the greatest of all Latin poets. a long. however. His best poetry is informed with a spirit of detached amusement. an ironic handbook on love. His longer poems are complex and learned. the Metamorphoses. Ovid is best known for his Ars Amatoria. and his greatest work. OVID . ten elegant and moving pastoral poems that became lasting models of their kind.
is an energetic and loosely organized epic that pushes each feature of Virgilian style to its extreme. PETRONIUS ARBITER . Although it was overshadowed by the brilliance of the preceding century. whose astonishing Satyricon (60?). Much of his extensive and revealing correspondence also exists. whose witty and frequently obscene verses are models for their genre. PHAEDRUS .A dominant figure of the silver age the tutor of the notorious emperor Nero. LUCAN .12 Cicero excelled as well in prose works of a more relaxed style.exploited the epic genre so fully that subsequent epic poets were more hampered than helped by his example. Statius’s major work.That shortest of poetic forms.Effective use of the epic tradition.the bitter and cynical—but entertaining MARTIAL .The slave Phaedrus. was perfected by him. PERSIUS . THE SILVER AGE The Golden Age was followed by what is often called the Silver Age of Latin literature. Seneca expounded the doctrines of the Stoic philosophy in letters and treatises that had great influence.Perhaps the most original writer of his time was the urbane Petronius Arbiter. a substantial body of accomplished work was produced during this time. PUBLIUS PAPINIUS STATIUS . .Equally well known as a prose writer was Cicero’s contemporary Gaius Julius Caesar.a writer much admired in the Middle Ages. a vast work in verse and prose of which only a part is extant. It still serves as a basic source for the period. VIRGIL . who became a freeman under the emperor Augustus. whose Pharsalia treats the conflict between Caesar and Pompey the Great in the Roman civil war (49-45 BC). The Thebais (91?). SENECA .Vivid writing is a feature also of the great writers of verse satire the harsh and difficult JUVENAL – vivid writing-. in the 1st century AD. known to generations of beginning Latin students. and he wrote nine grisly tragedies that over the centuries have thrilled and horrified European dramatic sensibilities. LIVY . the epigram. His clear and forceful commentaries on the Gallic and civil wars of the 50s and 40s (De Bello Gallico and De Bello Civili) have also become models of their kind. only about a fourth of which survives. produced Latin verse versions of the popular fables of the Greek writer Aesop. Ab Urbe Condita Libri (From the Founding of the City).The outstanding Roman historian wrote a lengthy history of Rome. GAIUS JULIUS CAUSAR . is a powerfully entertaining narrative vividly depicting a wide range of human excess. including treatises on rhetoric and philosophical works such as the famous pieces on friendship and on old age.
using pagan literary devices for Christian purposes.The major accomplishment of Saint Jerome was his translation of the Bible. CORNELIUS TACITUS . Two church fathers dominate early Christian prose: Saint Jerome and Saint Augustine. EARLY CHRISTIAN WRITING The first period of Christian literature in Latin overlaps that of later pagan writing. AURELIUS CLEMENS PRUDENTIUS . LUCIUS APULEIUS – wrote The Metamorphoses (often called in translation The Golden Ass).A new tradition of Christian poetry. is an equally authoritative study. De Civitate Dei (The City of God. QUINTILIAN – wrote The Institutio oratoria (95?). He also wrote a famous description of Germany and its inhabitants. is famous for its animated biographies of the Caesars and its often lurid depiction of what is for modern readers the most sensational period of Roman history. His major works.One of the most influential Christian writers of his time was the church father whose correspondence is still read with interest.was one of the most influential of all European thinkers.13 The prose of the 1st century AD includes the works of a number of noteworthy didactic writers: PLINY the ELDER . it includes some of the most judicious Roman literary criticism.The first important Christian writer. SAINT AMBROSE .was a prolific writer whose Historia Naturalis remained a standard encyclopedic natural history textbook for generations. literature declined along with the political fortunes of the empire. .dramatically narrated the events of his own generation and the one preceding it in his Historiae (104-109) and Annales (115?-117?). SAINT JEROME . SUETONIUS – wrote De Vita Caesarum (121?). and its influence on subsequent Latin—and European—prose was enormous. but a few important figures emerged. Germania (98?). with the learned and discerning Ambrosius Theodosius Macrobius producing a sort of summary of ancient culture in his Saturnalia near the end of the century. is an entertaining prose narrative that includes the elegantly recounted story of Cupid and Psyche. whose Psychomachia (Battle of the Soul) pioneered the use of allegory in Christian poetry. devoted to the theory and practice of oratory. TERTULLIAN . SAINT AUGUSTINE . use the classic style of Ciceronian rhetoric in an individual and moving way to express a sense of Christian conviction. Known as the Vulgate. AMBROSIUS THEODOSIUS MACROBIUS . LATE PERIOD During the subsequent centuries of the Roman Empire. it has been the standard Latin version ever since. and who is also important for his hymns. a master of prose. 413-426) and the highly personal Confessions (400?). was inaugurated in the 4th century by him.A final burst of pagan literary energy occurred in the 4th century.
also used as a hymn. who also wrote Latin verse. was also important literature of this period. Other than her work. exists in a number of manuscripts. 2. Developed in the context of liturgical services.a German nun adapted the dramatic techniques of Terence to Christian themes with curious results. This anonymous work. The story of Reynard the Fox. EKKHARD I the ELDER . was one popular work. most of this drama is anonymous. 400?) is the title popularly given to a curious allegorical work by Martianus Minneus Felix Capella. A noteworthy group of poets gathered at the court of Charlemagne: 1. some of it interesting from a literary point of view. More serious epics were written.produced a compendium of the culture of his time in his 20 books of Etymologies (623). however. outstanding examples are the moving sequence. A considerable number of medieval Latin religious plays are extant. they include the forms known as miracle. based on the life of King Walter of Aquitaine. These are the direct ancestors of modern drama. especially the secular lyric verse ascribed to wandering scholars (goliards) celebrating the joys of drinking and of fleshly love. De Consolatione Philosophiae (The Consolation of Philosophy). not specifically Christian in their orientation. ALCUIN.14 Other products of this age. and morality plays. loosely called goliardic verse. by the consul Boethius. Creator Spirit). the ―Stabat Mater Dolorosa‖ (Sorrowfully His Mother Stood) of Jacopone da Todi and the powerful ―Dies Irae‖ (Day of Wrath) of Italian friar Thomas of Celano. Religious poetry also continued to be written. as well. calmly and masterfully depicts the way in which the life of the mind can be a source of inner peace in harrowing times. SAINT BEDE the VENERABLE . completed an invaluable ecclesiastical history of his homeland. it provided a way for European Christian culture to organize the secular knowledge it considered worthwhile. LATIN LITERATURE OF THE MIDDLE AGES Medieval Latin literature continues the tradition of early Christian literature. who may have written the magnificent hymn ―Veni Creator Spiritus‖ (Come. assembled in Bavaria in the 13th century. MAINZ RABANUS MAURUS .The most admired prose work of its time was the authoritative life of Charlemagne by Frankish scholar Einhard.Chief among them was English scholar Alcuin 2. Historiography.In 731 Englishman Saint Bede the Venerable. Much of the best Latin poetry of the Middle Ages was anonymous. mystery. The best-known collection is the Carmina Burana.the learned archbishop of Mainz Rabanus Maurus.Especially impressive is the heroic poem Waltharius. EINHARD . . which served the later Middle Ages as a standard reference work. Longer poems of several kinds were also a feature of the early Middle Ages. and satirizing the clergy and traditional devotional poetry. a beast fable. SAINT ISIDORE of SEVILLE . had an immense influence on subsequent Christian thought: 1. attributed to Swiss monk Ekkehard I the Elder. HROSVITHA. De Nuptiis Philologiae et Mercurii (The Marriage of Philology and Mercury.
wrote forceful Latin hymns to the pagan gods POLITIAN. His love poems are lost. technical treatises continued to be written in Latin. the concern of which is not primarily literary.The last great age of creativity in Latin.15 GESTA PROMANORUM . POGGIO . moving work combines erotic feeling and a strong sense of family life. was also popular. MARSILIO FICINO. Petrarch’s most accomplished work in Latin includes his self-interrogating Secretum (1343). who tried to reconcile Platonism and Christianity GIOVANNI PICO DELLA MIRANDOLA .A Greek exile. whose elegant. who is noteworthy for a lively history of Renaissance Florence and for his Facetiae (1438-1452).a philosopher. a collection of lives of the saints by the archbishop of Genoa Jacobus de Voragine. and genres of Roman literature. and a vast body of specialized prose survives. 1486). the Renaissance. . a collection of amusing tales. Humanism was a movement that aimed to re-create classical experience by reviving the language. style.known for his De Hominis Dignitate Oratio (Oration on the Dignity of Man. Latin served as the intellectual language of Europe throughout this period. PETER ABELARD . MICHAEL MARULLUS . The great Italian poet Dante Alighieri used the Latin language eloquently in treatises on the role of the monarchy (De Monarchia) and on the uses of the Italian language (De Vulgari Eloquentia).Florentine humanist wrote poetry in Latin as gracefully as in Italian.The tradition of humanistic prose in Italy was carried on by such writers as Poggio. such as the widely read 13th-century collections known as the Gesta Romanorum (Deeds of the Romans). the Anticlaudianus and the De Planctu Naturae (The Complaint of Nature). Two important works of the learned 12th-century poet Alain de Lille. but his hymns and his intense and affecting correspondence with his beloved Héloïse remain. are allegorical and philosophical attempts to work out the place of human beings in terms of God’s plan for the natural universe. LATIN LITERATURE OF THE RENAISSANCE PETRARCH . they are also of intrinsic literary interest. was ushered in by the work of Italian humanist Petrarch in the 14th century. Even as writers began to use vernacular languages for literary purposes. GIOVANNI PONTANO .The best of the poets. as well as an extensive correspondence in fluent prose and verse. THE LEGENDA AUREA. Among the most voluminous are the theological treatises of Scholasticism.Prose fiction was a popular type of Latin literature. LORENZO VALLA – Italian Humanist whose linguistic studies paved the way for future philological scholarship and greatly influenced Renaissance thought and literary style. French scholar. produced work of literary merit.Important for literature were the philosophical writings of Marsilio Ficino. mostly in the form of short tales.The Legenda Aurea (Golden Legend).
Contributed By: Fred J. DESIDERIUS ERASMUS . that is still central to Western political thought. 1509).Erasmus’s friend the English statesman Sir Thomas More wrote a Latin visionary work.Among the most widely read European love poems in Latin were the passionate Basia (Kisses) of Dutch writer Johannes Secundus.The best-known Renaissance Latin novel is the Argenis (1621) of Scottish poet and satirist John Barclay. whose vast production includes his entertaining Encomium Moriae (The Praise of Folly. A satire on European politics. in his capacity as Latin secretary of the Commonwealth in 1649. JOHN OWEN. The tradition of Latin poetry in northern Europe lasted into the 17th century. Two Jesuit poets. All rights reserved. JOHN BARCLAY. carrying on the tradition begun in Italy. Enormously important was the Dutch humanist scholar Desiderius Erasmus.16 MARCO GIROLAMO VIDA – his work includes an influential verse treatise on the art of poetry. . Casimir Sarbiewski of Poland and Jacob Balde of Alsace. Barclay’s novel was translated in 1623 by English poet Ben Jonson. GEORGE BUCHANAN. The great English poet wrote much Latin prose as well. Utopia (1516). © 1993-2008 Microsoft Corporation. Ars Poetica. SIR THOMAS MORE . The last major European writer to use Latin as a primary means of poetic expression was the young John Milton.Northern Europe was also the scene of excellent work in Latin.the foremost Scottish humanist.Welsh writer John Owen was famous for his pithy Latin epigrams. Nichols Microsoft ® Encarta ® 2009. wrote impressive Horatian poetry on Christian subjects. was resonant and eloquent in a broad range of Latin verse and drama. JOHANNES SECUNDUS . and his Christiad (1535) comes perhaps the closest to a successful Renaissance epic in Latin.
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