The Politics of Latin Literature: Writing, Identity, and by Thomas N. Habinek

By Thomas N. Habinek

This is often the 1st ebook to explain the intimate dating among Latin literature and the politics of historic Rome. formerly, such a lot students have seen classical Latin literature as a manufactured from aesthetic issues. Thomas Habinek indicates, besides the fact that, that literature was once additionally a cultural perform that emerged from and intervened within the political and social struggles on the middle of the Roman global.

Habinek considers significant works via such authors as Cato, Cicero, Horace, Ovid, and Seneca. He indicates that, from its beginnings within the past due 3rd century b.c. to its eclipse by way of Christian literature 600 years later, classical literature served the evolving pursuits of Roman and, extra relatively, aristocratic energy. It fostered a status dialect, for instance; it appropriated the cultural assets of ruled and colonized groups; and it helped to defuse in all probability explosive demanding situations to triumphing values and authority. Literature additionally drew upon and more suitable different kinds of social authority, comparable to patriarchy, non secular ritual, cultural identification, and the aristocratic technique of self-scrutiny, or existimatio .

Habinek's research of the connection among language and tool in classical Rome breaks from the lengthy Romantic culture of viewing Roman authors as world-weary figures, aloof from mundane political concerns--a view, he indicates, that sometimes displays how students have visible themselves. The Politics of Latin Literature will stimulate new curiosity within the ancient context of Latin literature and aid to combine classical reviews into ongoing debates in regards to the sociology of writing.

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Extra resources for The Politics of Latin Literature: Writing, Identity, and Empire in Ancient Rome.

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He is thoroughly familiar with the works of the most learned philologists, but he does not use them slavishly; he evaluates them according to their worth, and his erudition is always utilized with judicious comprehension and superior reason. Those who, in particular, hear him talk either of some little-known author, such as Lucretius, or of one well-known, such as Cicero, may observe that his opinions, equally sound in both cases, are his own. 62 The mixture of erudition and insight, the genial movement between ancient and modern, prose and poetry, literature and culture bespeak an altogether different conception of the significance of Latin literature and THE PROBLEM OF ROME 27 its vitality as a field of study from Gildersleeve’s evocation of a dreary procession of disappearing vowels.

Finally, the role of the Romans in transmitting and preserving much of Greek culture and thought was undeniable, and so Latin had to be preserved, if only as an appendage to the project of Greek studies. But in a certain sense the question of why Latin studies persisted is misconceived, for a genuine, independent study of Rome and Latin literature has scarcely existed in the Romantic research university. To the extent that Latin has been studied, it has been cast in terms acceptable to THE PROBLEM OF ROME 23 philhellenic Romanticism; and even those who have made a profession of Latin literature have found themselves called upon repeatedly to make Latin Greek—or at least “Greek” as understood by Gildersleeve, his mentors, and his epigonoi.

In his emphasis on the connection between citizenship and civilization via the medium of the Latin language and archaic Roman heroes, Mickiewicz anticipates, by a few years, a comparable connection made by the French historian Jules Michelet, whose colleague and friend he was soon to become at the Collège de France. The equation of Rome and civilization receives early emphasis in the preface to Michelet’s Histoire romaine (first published in 1831), if only by indirection. Michelet describes his illustrious predecessor, Barthold Niebuhr, as a barbarian invader of the Roman world.

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