What you will study
This module provides an in-depth study of the Latin language and of Roman culture and literature, focusing on the Augustan period (mid-first century BCE to early first century CE) and the works of authors such as Livy, Virgil, Ovid and Horace. Approximately half of your study time will be spent reading Latin literature in translation and studying its historical and cultural contexts. The rest of your time will be devoted to studying the Latin language so that you can start to appreciate these texts in their original language.
The module assumes no prior knowledge of Latin – or any language other than English – and starts from beginner’s level. You'll begin to read Latin texts and learn the principles of Latin grammar using teaching materials which have been written especially for adult distance learners. From the outset, you will read short pieces of Latin adapted from Livy’s History of Rome. These texts will introduce you to some of the most fascinating and famous episodes of early Roman myth and history, from the story of Romulus and Remus to the war with Hannibal. Supported by careful explanations of the grammar and vocabulary, they will gradually increase in complexity.
You will also be set a variety of exercises and quizzes which will allow you to develop and test your understanding of Latin grammar and syntax. Some will be part of your print materials, while others will be accessed through our suite of online language learning tools, which include interactive grammar quizzes, vocabulary testers and a ‘Story Explorer’. The module provides you with resources that cover all the key principles of Latin grammar so that by the end of the module, you should be able to read fairly complex texts. Learning Latin is challenging, but it is also immensely rewarding and will equip you with the skills you need to begin to experience these ancient texts first-hand.
Alongside the language, you will explore further aspects of Augustan literature and culture in depth. In each study week, you’ll read (in translation) extracts of Augustan literature to develop your skills in close reading and interpreting poetry and prose, as well as deepening your understanding of the historical and cultural contexts of the literature. The thematic focus of this literary and cultural study is on Roman identity and exemplarity. Taking a cue from the stories from Livy that you'll be translating, the module explores the ways in which Livy and his contemporary Augustan authors were preoccupied with the question of what it meant to be Roman. Augustan authors made use of stories about Rome’s origins to grapple with enormous questions about their place in the world: How did Rome come to be? What does it mean to be Roman? And how should Romans behave? There were political motivations behind these questions, too, with some authors writing in service of the new Augustan regime (which replaced the centuries-old Republican government with an emperor as a sole ruler) and others reacting strongly against it.
After laying down some foundations in Block 1, which focuses primarily on Livy, Blocks 2 and 3 will explore this theme in more depth. You will read and study excerpts from a diverse range of Augustan texts – including Virgil’s Aeneid, Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Suetonius’ Lives of the Caesars, and the poetry of Horace and Propertius – alongside key examples of Augustan art and visual culture. Audio features and interviews with leading scholars in this area will enhance your understanding of this theme.
Throughout the module, you’ll also be encouraged to make connections between this literature and your study of the language. You’ll be carefully guided to look at bits of ‘real Latin’ from an early stage in the module, showing what can be gained from an awareness of the original language. At the same time, you’ll have the opportunity to reflect on the different challenges and opportunities faced by modern translators of Latin and to think about the role that the Latin language – often wrongly presumed to be dead or defunct – continues to play in the modern world.
You will learn
You will gain a knowledge of the core grammar, vocabulary, and syntax of the Latin language. By exploring a range of Latin texts in translation, you will gain skills in close reading and critical analysis, alongside an understanding of the historical and cultural context.
You will develop your ability to think logically and to communicate effectively in written English, and develop your digital and information literacy skills through a range of online activities and through assessed work. You will also develop your linguistic knowledge, gaining an understanding of how languages (ancient and modern) work as building blocks to make meaning.