ATRS Latin: Life, Love, and Death in Latin Inscriptions

Course Description: 

The present reading seminar will explore the formal conventions and contents of a specific genre, i.e., inscriptions produced in Classical and Postclassical Latin, ranging from Pompeian graffiti to early medieval inscriptions. In addition to reading and interpreting a selection of classical, late antique, and medieval inscriptions, the seminar will also offer a basic introduction to the field of Latin epigraphy. The choice of reading material will focus on inscriptions reflecting the everyday life and experience of individuals not directly connected to officialdom in an attempt to illustrate the potential of such sources for an informed historical discussion/reconstruction of daily life (rather than of institutional history) in Late Antiquity. The choice of reading material will also attempt to reflect the various and often competing groups identifiable within the texture of Late Roman society in terms of linguistic expression, religious beliefs, social and professional status, etc. Translating the materials will be followed by in-depth discussion of their linguistic make-up, paying special attention to identifying the postclassical features of the language, as well as of their content. In this context we will explore topics such as the use of rhetorical devices and topoi, strategies for self-representation, constructions of gender, concepts of Otherness.

Learning Outcomes: 

-The ability to analyze primary source materials, i.e., to select relevant primary source material and read it in the source language with an awareness of the linguistic and cultural background implied.
-The ability to select, synthesize, and disseminate academic knowledge relevant to a wider audience through annotations and comments accompanying a modern translation of a late antique/medieval source. Assessed regularly through independent annotation of the texts provided (homework) followed by discussion in class as well as through the end-of-term written assessment.
-An awareness to the plurality of discourses using Latin in Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages. Assessed through independent translation (homework) of assigned readings followed by discussion in class.
-Multicultural understanding as reflected in awareness of and respect for points of view deriving from other national, social, religious, or cultural backgrounds.


– Formative assessment: on-going evaluation of students' active participation in the discussions of the texts translated throughout the semester (10 % of the final grade). Attendance in class (min. 80%) is required so as to make such evaluation possible.
– Formative assessment: regular evaluation of independent translations of texts distributed in advance (homework), by means of discussion and relevant feedback in class (20 % of the final grade).
– Summative assessment: evaluation of a written, take-home assignment at the end of the semester. This will consist of translating a fragment of a Latin text similar to those read and discussed during the course and annotating it with the help of a list of relevant secondary literature and reference materials provided by the instructor. (70 % of the final grade).


The ability to read Latin at advanced level, i.e., a comprehensive knowledge of Latin morphology and syntax, usually achieved through completing at least four semesters of Latin (or the equivalent).