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LATIN 463 A: Latin Literature Of The Empire

Pliny the Younger
Meeting Time: 
TTh 2:30pm - 4:20pm
LOW 115
Alain M. Gowing

Syllabus Description:

Pliny the YoungerThe poet Martial

Latin 463: Latin Literature of the Empire -- Pliny the Younger and Martial

Spring Quarter 2022 -- TTh 2:30-4:20 PM  -- 115 Loew Hall

5 credits ** satisfies VLPA

PLEASE NOTE this class will be conducted live and in person.  There is no 'online' option.

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

Spring Quarter Office Hours: Office hours for Spring Quarter will be by Zoom on the following days/times (and by appointment -- email me at;

Mondays, 11 AM - 12:

Wednesdays, 9-10 AM:

Course description: In this class we will read a selection from Pliny the Younger's Epistulae, a collection of nearly 250 letters written on a wide variety of subjects, including the eruption of Vesuvius, ghosts, and his dealings with Christians during his tenure as governor of Bithyinia; and a selection from the Epigrams from Pliny's contemporary, the poet Martial, whose poems offer an intimate glimpse into daily Roman life in the early Principate.  Although Pliny (61-ca. 113 AD) and Martial (ca. 38-104 AD) knew each other (one of Pliny's more famous letters, which we will read, deals with Martial's death), their relationship was ambivalent. Of greater interest to us than their personal relationship will be an examination of shared themes and interests -- and their contrasting perspectives on the society and culture in which they lived.  

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 (which generally means you have completed the intermediate Latin level sequence through Latin 307 or beyond, or its equivalent).  If you are in doubt, please ask (

Required TextsPlease make sure you have these texts (i.e., no will need to have these particular editions):

1) Carlon, Jacqueline, ed.  Selected Letters from Pliny the Younger's Epistulae (Oxford 2016) [ebook available from publisher]

2) Watson, Lindsay, and Patricia Watson, edd. Martial: Select Epigrams (Cambridge 2003)

Grading (tentative plan): 

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%

3) Paper of 3-5 pages in length (submitted through Canvas), due on or by Wednesday, June 8.  Click HERE for details.

Important UW policy-related things to know:

  • UW Language on Face Covering in the Classroom (COVID): This is the current (as of 3/8/22 ) UW Guideline on masks:

"Following changes to state and local health policies, masks will become optional inside most University facilities starting March 28, the first day of spring quarter. Masks will continue to be required in clinical and other health-care settings and on public transportation, including UW shuttles. The UW Face Covering Policy will be updated to outline these specific settings. Please note that mask and testing policies for unvaccinated students and personnel are still under review and will be communicated prior to March 28. Additionally, UW locations and facilities not specified in state, local or University face covering policies should not set their own mask policies.   ...Because many people will be returning to campus from travel over spring break and mobility will be increasing in general, we strongly recommend wearing masks indoors during the first two weeks of spring quarter. Please monitor yourself daily for symptoms and stay home if you are sick. It’s also strongly recommended to get tested after travel."

For the full statement of the University's guidelines for Spring Quarter, click HERE.

  • 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.

Schedule of Readings:

NB: This is subject to change and emendation.

➜Week 1 (28 March - 1 April)

March 29: Martial 1, 3, 4, 8 (numbers refer to Watson&Watson numbering of the poems in their edition). You should also read the Introduction to Watson & Watson (pp. 1-36)

31: Martial 9A, 10, 11, 15

➜Week 2 (4-8 April)

April 5: Martial 18, 20, 23, 25

7: Martial 30, 31, 34, 36

➜Week 3 (11-15 April)

12: Martial 37, 38, 40, 41

14: Martial 43, 45, 47, 49, 53

➜Week 4 (18-22 April)

19: 54, 55, 57, 62, 65

21: 67, 68, 69, 76, 77

➜Week 5 (25-29 April)

26: 79, 80, 81, 82

28: 83, 84, 85, 86

➜Week 6 (2-6 May)

NB: Numbers refer to the standard Book/Letter number, which Carlon uses in her edition (I use here, however, Arabic numerals for the Letter number rather than the Roman, e.g., 1.9 (Book 1, Letter 9) is 1.IX in Carlon).  

May 3: Pliny 1.1, 1.6, 1.9 

5: Pliny 1.18, 2.17

➜Week 7 (9-13 May)

10: Pliny 3.14, 3.21

12: Pliny 4.11, 4.19, 4.23

➜Week 8 (16-20 May)

17: Pliny 5.19

19: Pliny 6.4, 6.7

➜Week 9 (23-27 May)

24: Pliny 6.16, 6.20

26: Pliny 7.19, 7.24, 7.27

➜Week 10 (30 May-2 June)

31: Pliny 8.16, [9.36: will do this if we have time]

June 2: Pliny 10.96, 10.97


Catalog Description: 
Readings and discussion of selected authors from the Roman Empire.
GE Requirements: 
Arts and Humanities (A&H)
Last updated: 
January 18, 2022 - 4:35pm