Topic outline

  • General

    Note: students taking the course for two credits should sign up for Latin 110B as well as Latin 110A


    The purposes of this course include (1) close study of Cicero’s in Catilinam I, Sallust’s Bellum Catilinae, and brief selections from Caesar, as literary artifacts and historical documents. (2) Reading in Latin of selected Letters of Cicero and his correspondents; students taking the course for one credit will read these letters in English.  (3) the improvement of Latin translation skills, including vocabulary acquisition and (where necessary) grammar review.  (4) An introduction to general historical problems connected with the last decades of the Roman Republic, and of the career of Cicero in particular.  The main focus will be on using of primary sources, especially Cicero’s letters, to examine both specific political events and Roman political culture more generally.  

    Assignments for the most part are based on a combination of secondary historical scholarship and primary sources, in Latin and in translation.  Two credit students will read selected Letters of Cicero in Latin (using the edition in "Texts in Latin" below; one credit student will read the same letters in English (using the edition in "Texts in English or English and Latin".  In many cases additional passages will be read at sight in class.

    Required texts, including two books for purchase.

    Cicero, in Catilinam I (Moodle, in separate files), with commentaries by Gough and Whitely; Dyck (Moodle)

    Cicero, selected letters, with commentary by WNT (Moodle; in Latin and in English with Latin)

    J. T. Ramsey, ed. Sallust’s Bellum Catilinae. New York and Oxford: Oxford UP, 2nd ed., 2007.

    Anthony Everitt: Cicero: The Life and Times of Rome’s Greatest Politician. New York: Random House, 2001. (paperback; Kindle)


    If you believe you need accommodations for a disability or a chronic medical condition, please contact Student Disability Services (Parrish 113W, 123W) via e-mail at to arrange an appointment to discuss your needs. As appropriate, the office will issue students with documented disabilities or medical conditions a formal Accommodations Letter. Since accommodations require early planning and are not retroactive, please contact Student Disability Services as soon as possible. For details about the accommodations process, visit the Student Disability Services website. You are also welcome to contact me [the faculty member] privately to discuss your academic needs. However, all disability-related accommodations must be arranged, in advance, through Student Disability Services.

    • Secondary reading

    • Week 1, Wed. Jan. 21

      Reading in Latin or English (2 credit students read in Latin; 1 credit students read in English)

      Letter 1: ad Att. 1.6 = Shackleton Bailey 2  (.5) after 23 Nov. 68

      Letter 2: ad Att. 1.1 = Shackleton Bailey no. 10 (3)         before July 68

      Letter 3: ad Att. 1.2 = Shackleton Bailey no. 11 (.5) c. 17 July 65

      Reading in English

      Quintus Cicero (disputed), Commentariolum Petitionis (Moodle: Texts in English)

      Everitt, Cicero, pp. vii-86

      P. G. Walsh, trans. Cicero: Selected Letters. Oxford: Oxford UP.  “Introduction”, pp. ix-xxxi

      Lintott, Andrew. Cicero as Evidence: A Historian’s Companion. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2008. ch. 1 (pp. 1-8, to “exension of the process”) (Moodle: Secondary Reading).

      Questions for discussion

      1.  How would you describe the Roman political system at the time of Cicero's consulship (63 BCE): was it an oligarchy, a republic, or a democracy?  Who had power, and how did they get it?  What were the offices available to an ambitious Roman male, and what were his possibilities for contributing to society?  How did the politics of the day interact with changes and pressures in the society at large?

      2.  Was Cicero's career prior to the consulship that of a popularis politician, or that of a conservative?

      3.  (cliché alert)  How does the electoral system described in the Commentariolum Petitionis correspond to that of relatively modern ones (making due allowance for the obvious differences of mass communications and digital targeting)?

    • Week 2, Wednesday Jan. 29: Catiline

      Reading in Latin (1 and 2 credit students).  

      Cicero, In Catilinam I, 1 to 7 (dicebas) Use the OCT, with commentaries by Gould and Whitely and by Dyck.  (You can also use the text with macrons, but only as a supplement).

      ** Suggested approach for doing the translation.  (1) listen to the audio recording as often as possible before you sit down to do the translation "properly"; see how much of what's being said makes sense to you (2) review vocabulary on Brainscape for the each chapter, as often as possible before you sit down to do the translation "properly".  Ideally those two activities should complement each other, and you should then find translating "properly" easier and more satisfying.  When you do sit down to translate, about five lines or so two or three times and see what sense you can make of them.  THEN see if Gould and Whiteley's commentary helps you.  And THEN look up any words you need in your dictionary.  THEN read Dyck's commentary for rhetorical and historical background.

      Note that you should be prepared to read any part of the assignment aloud (using the texts with macrons).  

      Reading in English (1 and 2 credit students)

      Everitt, Cicero, pp. 87-112

      Dyck, Cicero: Catilinarians. Introduction, pp. 1-21 (Moodle)

      Barbara Levick, Catiline (2015), ch. 4, pp. 35-40

      Brian Vickers, Classical Rhetoric in English Poetry, 2nd ed. 1989, ch. 1, pp. 15-29 [NOTE: you do not need to read rest of the chapter, though it is interesting]

      ibid, List of Rhetorical Figures 

      Reading in English (2 credit students only)

      Kenneth Waters, “Cicero, Sallust, and Catiline.” Historia 19 (1970): 195–215.

      Robin Seager, “Iusta Catilinae.” Historia 22 (1973): 240–48.

      E. J. Phillips, “Catiline’s Conspiracy.” Historia 25 (1976): 441–48.


      1.  What makes Cicero’s speech so effective?  What rhetorical devices can you identify?

      2.  What is the immediate context of the speech and what is Cicero’s immediate political purpose?

      3.  What was the "First Catilinarian Conspiracy" and what light does it shed on what happened when Cicero was consul?

      Project (two credit students only)

      Be prepared to talk for 10-15 minutes on ONE of three articles on Catiline (decide among yourselves who picks which article).  What does the rest of the class need (well “need”) to know?  What do the other two articles say to confirm or contest the claims made in your article.

      • Week 3, Wed Feb. 5: Clodius

        Reading in Latin (one credit)

        Cicero, In Catilinam I, 8 to 16 (ferendum putas?)

        Reading in Latin (two credits)

        Letter 4: ad Fam. 5.7 (to Pompey) = Shackleton Bailey no. 4 (1) Dec-April 62

        Letter 5:  ad Att. 1.12 = Shackleton Bailey no. 12 (1.5) 1 Jan. 61

        Letter 6: ad Atticum 1.13 = Shackleton Bailey no. 13 (2.5) 25 Jan. 61

        Letter 7: ad Atticum 1.14 = Shackleton Bailey no. 14 (3.5) 13 Feb. 61

        Reading in English

        Plutarch, Life of Cicero [above, sources in English; FOR FUTURE REFERENCE: note the commentary by Edwards, in Secondary Reading.

        Everitt, Cicero, pp. 113-126 (to "for an upper-class Roman citizen").

        Erich S. Gruen, “Veteres Hostes, Novi Amici” Phoenix 24 (1970) 237-243

        T. Mitchell, “Veteres Hostes, Novi Amici (Cic. Fam. V.7.1),” Historia 24 (1975) 618-622.

        Ronald Syme, The Roman Revolution (1939) ch. 2 (pp. 10-27); ch. 3 (part: pp. 28-34 "He should have made certain of both consuls).

        Project (two credit students)

        Pick one of the letters to Atticus (i.e. not ad Fam 5.7) assigned for today and be prepared to discuss its historical significance, and any problems of interpretation.

        Discussion Questions

        1. What was the political situation in Rome before and after Cicero's consulship?  What was Cicero's political position, and who were his allies?

        2.     Consider Fam. 5.7 as a historical document. What were Cicero’s and Pompey’s positions?  How honest and accurate is Cicero?  What are the specific problems of interpretation, and how can you resolve them?

        3.      How do you explain Clodius' involvement with the Bona Dea?  What light is shed by Cicero's letters?  [See Tatum, The Patrician Tribune: Publius Clodius Pulcher (1999), pp. 62-80]

        Additional possible paper topics

        1. Assemble and discuss the sources for the opposition to Cicero’s treatment of the Catilinarians: to what extent was Cicero exaggerating the dangers of the conspiracy, and his own importance?  [cf. Cicero, Pro Sulla; Mitchell 74 n. 22]

        2. Discuss the political position of Cato prior to the first triumvirate: what made him such an effective leader, and to what extent were his objectives different from those of Cicero? [cf. Cic.  Pro Murena]

        3. Discuss the political connections and careers of Metellus Nepos and Metellus Celer: to what extend did “the Metelli” constitute a coherent political grouping, and what was its (their) relationship with Pompey

        • Week 4, Wed. Feb. 12

          Reading in Latin (1 and 2 credit students)

          Cicero, In Catilinam I, 17 to 26 (senties)

          Reading in Latin (2 credit students)(1 credit students read in English)

          Letter 8: ad Atticum 1.16 = Shackleton Bailey no. 16 (7) early July 61

          Reading in English (everyone)

                  Letter 8: ad Atticum 1.16 = Shackleton Bailey no. 16 (7) early July 61

                  Robin Seager, Pompey the Great., 2nd ed. (2002), pp. 75-85

          Mary Beard and Michael Crawford, Rome in the Late Republic (1985), pp. 25-39

          Reading in English, 2 credit students.

          J. P. V. D. Balsdon, “Fabula Clodiana,” Historia­ 15 (1966), 65-73. 

          W. Jeffrey Tatum, The Patrician Tribune: Publius Clodius Pulcher (1999), 1-86, esp. 64-86

          Ian Harrison, “Catiline, Clodius, and Popular Politics During the 60s and 50s BCE.” BICS 95–118 (2008).

          Two Credit Projects

                   As before, report on on ONE of the last three secondary readings.  What claims does the author make, and how much do you accept?  Note in particular any

                   light shed on ad Atticum 1.16

          Discussion questions

                   1.   Were the actions of Clodius and his prosecutors religious or political?

                    2.   Explain the nature of Cicero's involvement in the trial of Clodius

          • Week 5: Wed. Feb. 12: the Three-Headed Monster

            Reading in Latin (everyone)

            Cicero, In Catilinam I, 27 (Tantum profeci) to end.

            Reading in Latin or English (2 or 1 credit students)

            Reading in Latin

            Letter 9: ad Atticum 2.1 = Shackleton Bailey no. 21 (5.5) c. June 3 (?)  60

            Letter 10: ad Atticum 2.3 = Shackleton Bailey no. 23 (1.5)         mid-late Dec.  60

            Letter 11: ad Atticum 2.16 = Shackleton Bailey no. 36 (2)         April/May  59

            Letter 12: ad Atticum 2.18 = Shackleton Bailey no. 38 (1.5)         June          59

            Letter 13: ad Atticum 2.19 = Shackleton Bailey no. 39 = (2.5) 7-14 July          59

            Letter 14: ad Atticum 2.24 = Shackleton Bailey no. 44 (2.5)         August (?)  59

            Reading in English

            Suetonius, Life of Julius Caesar (trans. Hurley)

            Everitt, Cicero, pp. 126-145

            Mitchell, Thomas N. “Cicero, Pompey, and the Rise of the First Triumvirate.” Traditio 29 (1973): 1–26.

            Lintott, Cicero as Evidence, ch. 11

            Epstein, David, "Cicero's Testimony at the Bona Dea Trial", Classical Philology 81 (1986) 229-335.


            1. What was Cicero’s position in the year of Caesar’s consulship?  How do you account for the fact that he subsequently had to leave Rome?

            2. What was so important about Caesar’s tenure of the consulship?  Why did his consulship have a significance that the consulships of other Pompeian supporters did not have?

            Project for everyone

            Read the chapter in Lintott (11) and the article by Epstein for a recent discussions of the years following Cicero's consulship; see if you can spot an issue or piece of evidence (e.g. a speech of Cicero's) that could form the focus of a good final paper.

            Project for 2 credit students.  Be prepared to teach one letter, as specified below.  Alert us to any linguistic difficulties and any points of historical issues illustrated or problems raised by your text. 

            Letter 9: ad Atticum 2.1 = Shackleton Bailey no. 21 (5.5): Maeve

            Letter 10: ad Atticum 2.3 = Shackleton Bailey no. 23 (1.5): Tobias

            Letter 11: ad Atticum 2.16 = Shackleton Bailey no. 36 (2): Karina

            Letter 12: ad Atticum 2.18 = Shackleton Bailey no. 38 (1.5): Rebecca

            Letter 13: ad Atticum 2.19 = Shackleton Bailey no. 39 = (2.5): Kodie

            Letter 14: ad Atticum 2.24 = Shackleton Bailey no. 44 (2.5): Jeremy

            • Week 6, Wed. Feb 26: Exile and Return

              Reading in Latin (everyone)

              Caesar, de Bello Gallico 1.1-4 (with commentary by Francese, online); there is an audio recording posted above.

              Caesar, de Bello Civile 1.1-5 (with commentary by Carter)

              Reading in Latin or English (2 or 1 credit students)

              Letter 15: ad Quintum Fratrem 1.4 = Shackleton Bailey no. 4 (1.5) c. 7 July (?) 58

              Letter 16: ad Atticum 4.1 = Shackleton Bailey no. 73 (3) c. 10 Sept. 57

              Letter 17: ad Quintum Fratrem 2.3 = Shackleton Bailey no. 7 (3) 12 and 15 Feb. 56

              Letter 18: ad Atticum 4.5 = Shackleton Bailey no. 80 (1) c. 20 June (?) 56

              Letter 19: ad Familiares 1.9.4-10 ONLY = Shackleton Bailey no. 20 (15.5) December 54 [read the whole letter in English, posted separately]

              Reading in English

              Plutarch, Life of Julius Caesar

              Everitt, Cicero, pp. 146-162 (to “my studies at home”)

              Lintott, Cicero as Evidence, chs. 12-13, pp. 167-211


              Identify at least one possible topic for a final paper.  You're not committed to this one, but be prepared to identify a possible topic and outline how  you might go about exploring it.   (Note that there may well be overlap, and that nobody owns a particular topic.)

              Questions for discussion

              1. How is Caesar’s prose different from Cicero’s?

              2. Does Cicero’s reaction to his “exile” strike you as extreme?  How do you explain it?

              3. What was Cicero’s role in the politics of the 1st Triumvirate?  

              4. How does Cicero’s account of what happened at Luca (ad Fam. 1.9) differ from the accounts in Suetonius and Plutarch?  How do you explain any discrepancies?

              • Week 7, Cilicia and Caelius

                Reading in Latin (everyone)

                Sallust BC 1-8

                Reading in Latin or English

                Letter 20: ad Familiares 8.1 = Shackleton Bailey no. 77 = How and Clark no. 27 1.5  (Jeremy)

                Letter 21: ad Familiares 8.4 = Shackleton Bailey no. 81 = How and Clark no. 30 2 (Kodie)

                Letter 22: ad Familiares 8.8 = Shackleton Bailey no. 84 = How and Clark no. 32 4 (Rebecca)

                Letter 23: ad Familiares 15.5 = Shackleton Bailey no. 111 = How and Clark no. 38 1 (Karina)

                Letter 24: ad Familiares 15.6 = Shackleton Bailey no. 112 = How and Clark no. 39 1 (Tobias)

                Letter 25: ad Familiares 8.14 = Shackleton Bailey no. 97 = How and Clark no. 40 2 (Maeve)

                Reading in English

                J. T. Ramsey, Sallust’s Bellum Catilinae, 2nd edition (2007), pp. 1-18 [this book you should purchase or use in the library]

                Everitt, Cicero, pp. 162-205.

                Lintott, Cicero as Evidence, ch. 15, pp. 253-280.

                Ronald Syme, Roman Revolution, ch. 3, pp. 28-46, some of which is review.

                * Project (everyone).  

                Chapters 1-4 of Sallust’s BC (the prologue) are probably the most difficult; part of the problem is following his connections.  Write a brief outline of his argument, and be prepared to discuss his main points.

                * Project (two credit students).  Present the letter assigned above to the class (5-10 minutes) NOTE.  You should assume we have all read the letter.  DO NOT simply summarize the letter paragraph by paragraph or sentence by sentence.  RATHER: identify the key points of (a) interest (b) contention, and focus if possible on your own interpretation.  Note that the secondary reading will help you identify points of interest, and the discussion questions below may help you identify the key issues.  Make an outline of your presentation for distribution to the class.  

                Discussion Questions:

                1.  What is Sallust "saying" in his introduction: is there a difference between text and subtext?

                2.  When did the break between Pompey and Caesar occur, and what caused it?

                3. Why did Caesar finally (or suddenly) go to war?  

                4. How do you account for the intransigence of the optimates?

                5. How were the views of Caelius and Cicero different from those of the optimates, and why?

                6. What do we conclude from their correspondence about the relationship between Cicero and Cato?

                • Week 8: The Dictatorship, and shortly afterwards

                  Reading in Latin (everyone)

                  Sallust BC 9-14 

                  Reading in Latin or English

                  Letter 26: ad Atticum 12.45 = Shackleton Bailey 290

                  Letter 27: ad Atticum 13.52 = Shackleton Bailey 353

                  Letter 28: ad Familiares 11.1 = Shackleton Bailey no. 325 = How and Clark no. 79 1

                  Reading in English

                  Everitt, Cicero, pp. 205-271

                  Suetonius, Divus Julius (reread the sections from the dictatorship to the end)

                  Plutarch, Life of Caesar (ditto)

                  Syme, Roman Revolution, ch. 4, pp. 47-60.

                  Questions for discussion (some of which are perennial, and perhaps unanswerable)

                  1. Why did Caesar insist on ruling Rome as a dictator? 

                  2. Why was Caesar killed?

                  3. What does each of the three letters in today’s assignment reveal about the nature of Caesar’s dictatorship?

                  4.   What does the letter of Decimus Brutus (Fam. 11.1) reveal about the plans of Caesar’s assassins?

                  **  Project: see if you can write 3 pages of a first draft of your final paper.

                  • Week 9: After Caesar

                     Reading in Latin (one credit)

                    Sallust, BC 14-26

                    Reading in Latin or English (designated presenters; about 10 minutes per letter).

                    Letter 29: ad Atticum 14.1 = Shackleton Bailey no. 80 = How and Clark no. 80 (1) Karina

                    Letter 30: ad Atticum 14.12 = Shackleton Bailey no. 366 = How and Clark no. 81 (1) Tobias

                    Letter 31: ad Atticum 14.13 = Shackleton Bailey no. 367 (3) Maeve

                    Letter 32: ad Atticum 14.13A = Shackleton Bailey 367A (1) Rebecca

                    Letter 33: ad Atticum 14.13B = Shackleton Bailey 367B (1) Jeremy

                    Letter 34: ad Atticum 14.21 = Shackleton Bailey no. 375 = How and Clark no. 34  (1) Kody

                    Reading in English

                    Barbara Weiden Boyd “Virtus Effeminata and Sallust’s Sempronia.” TAPhA 117 (1987): 183–201.

                    Plutarch, Life of Brutus [Loeb translation; online]

                    Everitt, Cicero, ch. 14, pp. 272-296

                    Thomas N. Mitchell, Cicero, the Senior Statesman (1991), 288-292 (“the respublica had been restored”)

                    Syme, Roman Revolution, (optional: chs. 61-96) ch. 7, pp. 97-111

                    (optional, and if possible) Lintott, Cicero as Evidence, ch. 18, pp. 338-347.

                    Questions for discussion

                    1.  Who is Sempronia and why is Sallust so interested in her?

                    2.  What light do Cicero’s letters in Spring of 44 shed on the murder of Caesar and the plans of the Liberators?

                    3.  What do we learn from Cicero’s letters about his relationship with Antony?

                    Note to presenters: again, make sure you make an outline of the salient points you want to make (rather than just the contents of your letter)

                    Project: are you ready to submit about 3 pages of your final paper to me?

                    • Week 10

                      Reading in Latin (everyone)

                      Sallust, Bellum Catilinae 27-39

                      Reading in Latin or English (with presentation assignments)

                      Letter 35: ad Familiares 11.2 = Shackleton Bailey no. 329 (.5) Kody

                      Letter 36: ad Atticum 15.11 = Shackleton Bailey no. 389 = How and Clark no. 85 (2) Rebecca

                      Letter 37: ad Familiares 11.3 = Shackleton Bailey no. 336 (1) Jeremy

                      Letter 38: ad Familiares 11.4 = Shackleton Bailey no. 342 (.5) Maeve

                      Letter 39: ad Brutum I or II.1 = Shackleton Bailey 1 (1.5) Tobias

                      Letter 40: ad Brutum XII (or 1.4a) = Shackleton Bailey 11 (1.25) Karina

                      Reading in English

                      Everitt, Cicero, ch. 15, pp. 297-306

                      Thomas N. Mitchell, Cicero, the Senior Statesman (1991), 292-319 (“designs of his associates”)

                      Syme, Roman Revolution, ch. 8, pp. 112-122

                      Questions for discussion

                      1.  What is the purpose of Sallust’s digression on the general background to the conspiracy (36ff)?  To what extent might they have been read as comments relevant to events at the time of writing?

                      2.  How do were the views of Cicero different from those of M. Brutus, Cassius and Decimus Brutus?

                      • Week 11

                        Reading in Latin (everyone)

                        Sallust, Catiline 40-51

                        Reading in Latin or English

                        Letter 41  ad Fam. XI.20 = Shackleton Bailey 401 (1.25) 24 May 43

                        Letter 42: ad Brutum XXV (1.17) = Shackleton Bailey 17 (= 26 in Loeb)  (5.25) June (?) 43 

                        Letter 43: ad Brutum XXVI (or 1.18) = Shackleton Bailey 26 (2) 27 July 43

                        Letter 44: ad Caesarem iuniorem  (Fragmenta Epistularum 23B) after August 43

                        Reading in English

                        Everitt, Cicero, ch. 16, pp. 307-319

                        Thomas N. Mitchell, Cicero, the Senior Statesman (1991), 319-326

                        Syme, Roman Revolution, chs. 9-10, pp. 123-148

                        Questions for discussion

                        1.  Is Letter 42 (ad Brutum XXV (1.17) = Shackleton Bailey 17 = 26 in Loeb) really a forgery?  

                        2.  Is the author of Letter 42 fair to Cicero?  What is your final assessment of his career as a whole, and his last years in particular?

                        • Week 12

                          Reading in Latin (everyone)

                          Sallust, BC 52-54

                          Reading in English (everyone)

                          Syme, Roman Revolution, chs. 11-12, pp.149-173

                          Reading in English (two credit students)

                          Ronald Syme, Sallust (1962), chs. 6-8 pp. 60-120

                          Batstone, William W. “The Antithesis of Virtue: Sallust’s ‘Synkrisis’ and the Crisis of the Late Republic.” Classical Antiquity 1–29. (1988): 1–29

                          R.  Sklenár, “La République Des Signes: Caesar, Cato, and the Language of Sallustian Morality.” TAPhA 128 (1998): 205–20.

                          Project: (ALL STUDENTS).  Be prepared to speak for 10 minutes or so on one of the following (your choice, but once you've made your choice please alert the rest of the class, and avoid overlap if possible, though some overlap is inevitable.  

                          For one credit students 

                          1.  Summarize the main points of Caesar’s speech.  How likely is it that it represents what was actually said?

                          2.  Summarize the main points of Cato’s speech.  How likely is it that it represents what was actually said?

                          3.   What is the point of Sallust’s comparison of Caesar and Cato?

                          4.    What precisely is Sallust’s attitude to Cicero?  To what extent was his treatment of his material a response to Cicero’s life, or death?

                          For two credit students: pick one of the preceding questions, or one of these three.

                          1.  summarize and evaluate Syme, Sallust, ch. 8 (Caesar and Cato)

                          2.  summarize and evaluate Batstone.

                          3.  summarize and evaluate Sklenár.

                          • Week 13

                            Reading in Latin (everyone)

                            Sallust, BC 55-61

                            Reading in English (everyone)

                            Syme, Roman Revolution, chs. 13-14, pp.176-201

                            Barbara Levick, Catiline (2015) chs. 4-6, pp. 46-107

                            Reading in English (two credit students; though recommended for everyone)

                            Sallust, Bellum Jugurthinum 

                            Syme, Sallust, chs. 9, pp. 121-137

                            Ronald Mellor, Introduction to reprint of Syme, Sallust

                            MacKay, L. A. “Sallust’s ‘Catiline’: Date and Purpose.” Phoenix 16 (1962): 181–94.

                            Questions for our last discussion

                            1.  Remembering (?) our readings and discussion of week 2, what do we think about (a) the First Catilinarian Conspiracy (b) the actions of Catiline and Cicero in 63?

                            2.  Why does Sallust write about Catiline anyway?  If history is (for a Roman senator, or perhaps just in general) a continuation of politics by other means, what is Sallust’s purpose in writing about events which were two decades old?