The Age of Cicero (CLA3008)

StaffProfessor Elena Isayev - Convenor
Dr Claire Holleran - Lecturer
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15.00
NQF Level6
Pre-requisitesThe successful completion of at least 90 credits at Level 2, 30 credits of which must be in Classics & Ancient History
Duration of Module Term 1: 11 weeks; Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module aims

In term 1, we will turn to the extensive and diverse writings of Cicero himself as historical and literary documents.  In term 2, we will consider themes of Roman culture such as friendship, patronage and sexuality, in the works of contemporary authors, especially Catullus and Lucretius. At the end of the year, we will have studied a wide range of literary evidence and developed a sophisticated understanding of its conventions, historical context and limitations. 

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Detailed knowledge of the history and culture of the Late Roman Republic
  • 2. Knowledge of approaches to Roman history and literature
  • 3. Familiarity with the sources of the Late Roman Republic
  • 4. Analysis of historical problems raised by the history and culture of late Republican Rome

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 5. Knowledge of historiographical method and literary criticism
  • 6. Critical analysis of ancient literature
  • 7. Analysis of the ideas and ideologies of ancient peoples
  • 8. Ability to digest and organise diverse historical and literary information into a coherent argument
  • 9. Experience in formal academic writing in Classics and Ancient History
  • 10. Experience in conducting independent research in Classics and Ancient History
  • 11. Regular contribution to plenary group discussion

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 12. Knowledge of methods of interpreting evidence
  • 13. Critical analysis of written documents
  • 14. Intellectual criticism of ideas and ideologies
  • 15. Ability to digest and organise diverse information into a coherent argument
  • 16. Experience in writing an analytical essay or report
  • 17. Experience in conducting independent research
  • 18. Regular participation in plenary group discussion

Syllabus plan

Term 1: The public life of M. Tullius Cicero as a window on the Late Roman Republic. Cicero's speeches and letters.

Term 2: Contemporary attitudes towards (e.g.) friendship, love, sex, marriage, invective, death, religion (in writings of Cicero, Catullus and Lucretius).

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled learning and teaching activities44Seminars (1 x 2 hours per week)
Guided independent study256Independent study

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay 1303000 words1-10, 12-17Mark and written comments
Essay 2303000 words1-10, 12-17Mark and written comments
Exam403 hours1-9, 12-16Mark and written comments

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
EssayEssay1-10, 12-17Ref/def period
ExamExam1-9, 12-16Ref/def period

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Set texts:

Catullus. Poems. Trans. G. Lee.OxfordWorld's Classics.Oxford, 2009. (Any reprint of the paperback since 1991 is fine.)

Cicero. Defence Speeches. Trans. D. H. Berry.OxfordWorld's Classics.Oxford, 2009. (Berry's new translations are a vast improvement over those by M. Grant for Penguin Classics.)

Cicero. Political Speeches. Trans. D. H. Berry.OxfordWorld's Classics.Oxford, 2009.

Cicero. Selected Letters. Trans. & ed. D. R. Shackleton Bailey. Penguin Classics. London, 1986.

Lucretius. On the Nature of the Universe. Trans. R. Melville.OxfordWorld's Classics.Oxford, 2009.

Sallust. Catiline's War, The Jugurthine War, Histories. Trans. A. J. Woodman. Penguin Classics.London, 2007. (Since we will read Catiline's War, you may want to purchase the whole volume.)

Wiseman, T. P. Catullus and his World: A Reappraisal.Cambridge, 1986.


Some further reading:

Crawford, M. H. TheRomanRepublic. 2nd ed. 1993.

Ferguson, J. Catullus. Greece & Rome. New Surveys in the Classics, no. 20.Oxford, 1988.

Flower, H.I. (ed.). TheCambridgeCompanion to theRomanRepublic.Cambridge, 2004.

Gaisser, J. H. Catullus. Blackwell Introductions to the Classical World.Oxford, 2009.

Gaisser, J. H. (ed.). Catullus.OxfordReadingsin Classical Studies.Oxford, 2007.

Gilespie, H. and P. Hardie, eds. TheCambridgeCompanion to Lucretius.Cambridge, 2007. [Online resource!]

Lintott, A. Cicero as Evidence.Oxford, 2008.

Powell, J. and J. Paterson (eds.).Cicerothe Advocate.Oxford, 2004.

Rawson,E. Cicero: A Portrait.Bristol, 1983.

Rawson, E. Intellectual Life in the LateRomanRepublic.London, 1985.

Rosenstein, N. and Morstein-Marx, R. A Companion to theRomanRepublic.Oxford, 2006. [Very useful.]

Shackleton Bailey, D. R. Cicero.London, 1971.

Steel, C. E. W. Cicero, Rhetoric, and Empire.Oxford, 2001.

Steel, C. E. W. ReadingCicero: Genre and Performance in Late RepublicanRome.London, 2005.

Taylor, L. R. Party Politics in the Age of Caesar.Berkeley, 1949. [An oldie but goodie.]

Tatum, W. J. The Patrician Tribune: P. Clodius Pulcher.Chapel Hill, 1999.

Treggiari, S. Terentia, Tullia and Publilia: The Women ofCicero's Family.London, 2007.

Vasaly, A. Representations: Images of the World in Ciceronian Oratory.Berkeley, 1993.

Wallace-Hadrill, A. Patronage in Ancient Society.London, 1989.

Wiseman, T. P. (ed.). Roman Political Life: 90 B.C.-A.D. 69.Exeter, 1985.

Wood,N. Cicero's Social and Political Thought.Berkeley, 1991.

Wray, D. Catullus and the Poetics of Roman Manhood.Cambridge, 2001.

Module has an active ELE page?


Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Brill's New Pauly is an online encyclopaedia of the ancient world. Go to:

select the subject area 'Classics'; scroll down to 'New Pauly Online.'

You will also find Jstor and the Cambridge Companions Complete Collection useful.

Available as distance learning?


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Last revision date


Key words search

Classics, Cicero, Ancient History, Roman Republic, Ancient Literature, Catullus, Lucretius