Literary Criticism

Joseph Farrell

in The Oxford Handbook of Roman Studies

Published in print June 2010 | ISBN: 9780199211524
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Classics and Ancient History

 Literary Criticism

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  • Classical Studies
  • Classical Poetry
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Most of the literary theorists and critics of classical antiquity who are still studied today – Plato, Aristotle, ‘Longinus’, and a few others – are Greeks. The Romans, who by reputation came late to literature and lacked a theoretical cast of mind, are not generally accorded a prominent place in the development of this discourse. Indeed, few surviving Roman texts address as their main topic the business of literary criticism, at least as that phrase is understood today. Nevertheless, the critical discussion of literature was a popular social activity among the Roman elite and an obligation of the intelligentsia. Horace's Ars Poetica is the closest thing we have to a Roman treatise on literary theory. The only actual treatises on poetics after Aristotle that might be relevant to Roman literature have been found among the essays of the Greek philosopher and poet Philodemus of Gadara.

Keywords: Plato; Aristotle; Longinus; literary criticism; Horace; Ars Poetica; literary theory; poetics; Roman literature; Philodemus of Gadara

Article.  5972 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Classical Poetry ; Classical Literature

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