October 20, 2021, 4:30 PM EDT

The Surprising Birth of Latin Literature

Denis Feeney
Denis Feeney, Giger Professor of Latin at Princeton University

Professor Feeney was educated at Auckland University and Oxford, where he obtained a doctorate in 1982. After teaching positions both in Britain and the United States, he joined the Princeton faculty in 2000. He teaches and publishes on Latin literature and on Roman culture more broadly, with a special focus on Roman religion and time.

In addition to articles on Latin literature (particularly on his favorite Latin poets, Catullus, Virgil, Horace, and Ovid), Professor Feeney has written four books. The Gods in Epic (Oxford, 1991) investigated the problem of how gods were represented in (especially Latin) epic. Literature and Religion at Rome (Cambridge, 1998) looked more broadly at the problem of the interaction between the literary and religious systems of Rome, framing the issues in terms of a dialogue between the way scholars tend to read Greek culture and Roman culture more generally. Caesar’s Calendar (California, 2007) examined Roman constructions of time, in terms of synchronism, historical vs. mythical time, and calendrical time. Professor Feeney’s most recent book, Beyond Greek: The Beginnings of Latin Literature (Harvard, 2016), is about why Rome developed a literature in the Latin language when it shouldn’t really have done so.

Virgil, Cicero, Horace, and other ancient Roman authors are so firmly established in the Western canon today that the existence of Latin literature is easily taken for granted. Join Professor Denis Feeney as he explains the surprising reasons why there never should have been a literature in the Latin language. This talk explores the conditions that gave rise to this unusual phenomenon, looking above all at the interaction between Roman and Greek culture from which the new literature emerged.

Event Details

  • Dates
    October 20, 2021, 4:30 PM EDT
  • Cost
    Free and open to the public