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Literary Criticism Ancient & Classical

Roman Literary Culture

From Plautus to Macrobius

by (author) Elaine Fantham

Johns Hopkins University Press
Initial publish date
Jul 2013
Ancient & Classical
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Jul 2013
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Jul 2013
    List Price

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This new edition broadens the scope of Fantham’s study of literary production and its reception in Rome.

Scholars of ancient literature have often focused on the works and lives of major authors rather than on such questions as how these works were produced and who read them. In Roman Literary Culture, Elaine Fantham fills that void by examining the changing social and historical context of literary production in ancient Rome and its empire.

Fantham’s first edition discussed the habits of Roman readers and developments in their means of access to literature, from booksellers and copyists to pirated publications and libraries. She examines the issues of patronage and the utility of literature and shows how the constraints of the physical object itself—the ancient "book"—influenced the practice of both reading and writing. She also explores the ways in which ancient criticism and critical attitudes reflected cultural assumptions of the time.

In this second edition, Fantham expands the scope of her study. In the new first chapter, she examines the beginning of Roman literature—more than a century before the critical studies of Cicero and Varro. She discusses broader entertainment culture, which consisted of live performances of comedy and tragedy as well as oral presentations of the epic. A new final chapter looks at Pagan and Christian literature from the third to fifth centuries, showing how this period in Roman literature reflected its foundations in the literary culture of the late republic and Augustan age. This edition also includes a new preface and an updated bibliography.

About the author

Elaine Fantham is Giger Professor Emerita of Latin at Princeton University and an honorary fellow at Trinity College, University of Toronto. She is former president of the American Philological Association and was awarded a Distinguished Service Medal by the association in 2009. She is a coauthor of Women in the Classical World: Image and Text.

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Editorial Reviews

"Fantham offers a succinct but generous guide to recent scholarship in Latin literature. I heartily recommend her book to scholars of Latin literature, to instructors seeking a textbook for History of Latin Literature courses and to graduate students studying for exams."

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