Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2023-2024

Module CLAS3631: Greek and Latin Literature of the Second Century A.D.

Department: Classics and Ancient History

CLAS3631: Greek and Latin Literature of the Second Century A.D.

Type Open Level 3 Credits 20 Availability Not available in 2023/24 Module Cap Location Durham


  • CLAS1301 or CLAS1601 (It is recommended, but not required, to have taken CLAS2721)


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To provide an introduction to a variety of Greek and Latin authors and literary genres of the second century A.D. (with a particular focus on prose literature of the Second Sophistic)
  • To analyse the literary characteristics of the texts discussed
  • To explore the political and social functions of the literature of the second century A.D.


  • There will be sections on
  • satire (e.g. Juvenal, Lucian)
  • epistolography (e.g. Fronto & Marcus Aurelius, Aelian, Alciphron, Philostratus)
  • philosophical writings (e.g. Plutarch, Galen, Marcus Aurelius, Sextus Empiricus, Apuleius)
  • the novel (e.g. Apuleius, Longus)
  • rhetoric (e.g. Apuleius, Fronto, Lucian, Aelius Aristides)
  • historiography (e.g. Florus, Arrian, Appian, Cassius Dio) and its theory (Lucian)
  • biography (e.g. Plutarch, Suetonius, Philostratus)
  • miscellanies and related genres (e.g. Aulus Gellius, Athenaeus, Aelian, Pausanias)
  • science and scholarship (e.g. Soranus of Ephesus, Galen, Polyaenus, Gaius, Terentianus Maurus)

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Knowledge of some major examples of Greek and Latin literature of the second century A.D., in particular prose writers
  • Familiarity with the literary genres of this period
  • Knowledge of the political and social functions of the literature of this period.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • An ability to handle a wide range of diverse and complex literary genres
  • To place them in their socio-cultural and historical context
  • To discuss in an informed and sophisticated way the issues raised by diverse modern approaches.
Key Skills:
  • An ability to engage in an informed and sophisticated way with diverse and challenging texts from an important period in ancient literature;
  • An ability to compare and assess different interpretative approaches and methodologies;
  • a capacity to sustain a clear, well-structured and well-defended argument in written form.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • The lectures focus on the main texts and topics covered in the course.
  • Seminars enable students to discuss and develop their ideas in an interactive environment.
  • The summative essay will assess the students’ familiarity with the evidence and the sophistication of their analyses. It will test the students’ ability to focus on relevant issues and organise knowledge and argument appropriate to questions raised

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 18 Weekly, 9 in Michaelmas and 9 in Epiphany Term 1 hour 18
Seminars 10 5 in Michaelmas Term and 5 in Epiphany Term 1 hour 10
Preparation and reading 172
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Summative essay Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 4,000-5,000 words 100%

Formative Assessment:

Two 1,500 word essays or one 2,500-3,000 word essay.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University