Susanna Braund

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


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For students of Roman antiquity, translation figures in two arenas. First, it was a cultural activity of the Roman Empire from the third century BCE onwards, when a Romanised Greek called Livius Andronicus ‘turned’ Greek epic and drama into Latin, and thus inaugurated Latin literature with his versions of Homer's Odyssey and Greek drama. Livius's respectful imitation soon modulates into imperialistic appropriation of Greek culture when in the 50s BCE Catullus translates poems by Sappho (Poem 51) and Callimachus (Poem 66), and when the Hellenistic poet Aratus's didactic poem on astronomy and meteorology is translated into Latin by Varro Atacinus and Cicero in the late Republic; by Germanicus, nephew and heir to the emperor Tiberius, in the early Principate; and by Avienus in the mid-fourth century CE. Secondly, translation from Latin has extended the influence of Latin literature throughout Europe and beyond. This article deals with translation from Latin into various vernaculars, including English. It suggests that the importance of translation extends beyond the aesthetic sphere into the social and moral spheres, including politics and even economics.

Keywords: Latin; English; translation; Latin literature; culture; politics; economics; Livius Andronicus; Roman Empire

Article.  6492 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Classical Reception ; Classical Poetry

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