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LATIN 461 A: Latin Literature of the Republic

Alma Tadema-Catullus and Lesbia
Meeting Time: 
TTh 2:30pm - 4:20pm
SAV 141
Alain M. Gowing

Syllabus Description:

Catullus visits Lesbia (Alma Tadema)

Latin 461: Latin Literature of the Republic -- Cicero's Pro Caelio and Catullus

Spring Quarter 2020 -- TTh 2:30-4:20 (online)

5 credits ** satisfies VLPA

Professor A. M. Gowing
Office: Denny M262C
Phone: 543-2266 (Dept. of Classics)

CLASS MEETINGS: We will meet as a group by Zoom on Tuesdays and Thursdays 2:30-4:20.  Details forthcoming.

Spring Quarter Office Hours: M 10:30-11:30 and W 1:30-2:30.  These will be virtual office hours, during which time I will be available by Zoom as follows:

M 10:30-11:30:

W 1:30-2:30:


You may also email me ( to arrange a different day/time if necessary. 

Course description: The Roman orator and statesman Cicero (106-43 BC) and the poet Catullus (ca. 84-54 BC) were close contemporaries if not acquaintances.  This class entails a reading of Cicero's famous speech for Caelius Rufus (delivered 56 BC), in which he defends his client against Publius Clodius Pulcher, the brother of Clodia, the woman often identified as Catullus' 'Lesbia'.  Against this speech, with its vivid portrayal of the (allegedly) debauched activities and lifestyle of Clodia, we will juxtapose a number of Catullus' poems, especially the so-called 'Lesbia' poems, that offer a different sort of window onto the characters and behavior captured in Cicero's speech.   

While the majority of class time will be spent translating the text and discussing points of grammar and style, we will also look at some examples of recent scholarship on both Cicero and Catullus.  There will be a midterm and a final, consisting of both prepared and sight passages, as well as a brief (3-5 pages) essay on a topic of your choosing (following consultation with me).  

Please note that this is an advanced-level Latin class.  It's my expectation that you will be comfortable reading Latin at an advanced level.  If you are in doubt, please ask (

Required Texts: A. Dyck, ed., Cicero.  Pro Marco Caelio.  Cambridge 2013.

K. Quinn, ed., Catullus: The Poems.  Bloomsbury 1998.

Please make sure you are using THESE editions of the texts...the commentaries matter!


1) general preparation (25%)...this means regular attendance to the degree you are able and, most importantly, being prepared.

2) Midterm and Final quizzettini, each worth 25% (online through Canvas, combination of translation and sight translation)

3) Paper of 3-5 pages in length (submitted through Canvas), due on or by Tuesday, June 9 (25%) -- details of this will be posted separately

Important UW policy-related things to know:

  • The UW's Religious Accommodations Policy: “Washington state law requires that UW develop a policy for accommodation of student absences or significant hardship due to reasons of faith or conscience, or for organized religious activities. The UW’s policy, including more information about how to request an accommodation, is available at Religious Accommodations Policy (Links to an external site.). Accommodations must be requested within the first two weeks of this course using the Religious Accommodations Request form (Links to an external site.).”
  • The UW's Student Conduct Code: "The University of Washington Student Conduct Code (WAC 478-121) defines prohibited academic and behavioral conduct and describes how the University holds students accountable as they pursue their academic goals. Allegations of misconduct by students may be referred to the appropriate campus office for investigation and resolution. More information can be found online at" (Links to an external site.)
  • Access and Accommodation: Your experience in this class is important to me. If you have already established accommodations with Disability Resources for Students (DRS), please communicate your approved accommodations to me at your earliest convenience so we can discuss your needs in this course.

    If you have not yet established services through DRS, but have a temporary health condition or permanent disability that requires accommodations (conditions include but not limited to; mental health, attention-related, learning, vision, hearing, physical or health impacts), you are welcome to contact DRS at 206-543-8924 or or  (Links to an external site.)DRS offers resources and coordinates reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities and/or temporary health conditions.  Reasonable accommodations are established through an interactive process between you, your instructor(s) and DRS.  It is the policy and practice of the University of Washington to create inclusive and accessible learning environments consistent with federal and state law.

  • Academic Integrity: University of Washington students are expected to practice high standards of academic and professional honesty and integrity as outlined here: (Links to an external site.)


Schedule of assignments: 


  • This is rough schedule of what I want us to read and when...we may well not get through all of every assignment, but that's OK.  It is important, however, that you come prepared to ask questions about anything assigned, even if we don't translate it in class.
  • I am not asking you to read all of the Pro Caelio in Latin; you'll be asked to read chunks of it in English, but you should of course read those chunks in Latin if you wish and are able (but they won't be included in any quiz). 
  • REALLYREALLY encourage you to read through the commentary for each assignment, even the bits you read in may find that a challenge, but it will help you understand better what's going on and the context.

Week 1: On to Cicero!

March 30: Introduction

April 2: Cael. 1-2; also read Dyck's Introduction (pp. 1-29)

Week 2: 

7: in English: Cael. 3-22 (be sure to read as well Dyck's summary in the commentary on pp. 64-65); in Latin: Cael. 23-27a

NB: UW Libraries has access to the digital Loeb Classical Library, and it would be worth your while to figure out how to use this for reading the Pro Caelio.  The advantage is that you'll have the Latin with a (good) facing English translation as well as useful notes.  You'll need to login to the Libraries in order to access it: once you're in the library system, search for 'Loeb Classical Library' and follow the link provided; you will also find a link to it via the Classics Library Guide maintained by the UW Libraries (click HERE for that).  You can also try THIS DIRECT LINK.  Once you're at the LCL site, use the 'Browse' function to locate Cicero, then choose Pro Caelio.  

9: Cael. 27b-32

Week 3:

14: Cael. 33-36

16: Cael. 37-41

Week 4:

21: Cael. 42-47a

23: Cael. 47b-50

Week 5:

➜See HERE for revision to this week's assignment!

28: in English: Cael. 51-55; in Latin, Cael. 56-68; in English, Cael. 69

30: Cael. 70-80

Week 6: On to Catullus!

May 5: Cat. 49, 58; Midterm quizzettino

7: 68

Week 7:

12: 2, 3, 5

14: 7, 83

Week 8

19: 51, 86, 87, 107

21: 11 (cf. 16), 36, 70, 79, 85, (optional: 91), 92, 104

Week 9:

26: 8, 37, 109

28: 72, 73, 75

Week 10:

June 2: 76

4: wrapping up!

TUESDAY, June 9: Final quizzettino and paper due


Catalog Description: 
Readings and discussion of selected authors from the era of the Roman Republic.
GE Requirements: 
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Last updated: 
January 28, 2020 - 9:11pm