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Ancient Literary Genres

Code: 104198 ECTS Credits: 6
Degree Type Year Semester
2503702 Ancient Studies FB 1 2
2504394 English and Classics Studies OB 2 2


Marta Oller Guzman

Teaching groups languages

You can check it through this link. To consult the language you will need to enter the CODE of the subject. Please note that this information is provisional until 30 November 2023.


No previous knowledge required. However, it is a subject particularly aimed at people interested in the "literary fact", who enjoy reading and commenting on literature.

Objectives and Contextualisation

  • This subject belongs to the field "Literature", which wants to draw attention to the importance of the literary text as an essential source of information to learn about the history and civilization of Greece and Rome.
  • The aim of this subject is offering a general scope of Greek and Latin literature, based on the classification by genres of their works and authors.
  • There will be a general and basic presentation of the topical and formal characteristics of the main literary genres in Antiquity, as well as offering, as far as possible, a diachronic vision of their evolution.


    Ancient Studies
  • Be able to express oneself orally and in writing in the specific language of history, archaeology and philology, both in one's own languages and a third language.
  • Interpret texts written in Latin and Greek to understand the history and Classical civilisations.
  • Interrelate linguistic, historical and archaeological knowledge of the ancient world with knowledge of other areas of the humanities, mainly ancient literature, philosophy and art.
  • Students must be capable of communicating information, ideas, problems and solutions to both specialised and non-specialised audiences.
  • Students must develop the necessary learning skills to undertake further training with a high degree of autonomy.
    English and Classics Studies
  • Interpret written texts in Latin and Greek to learn about classical history and civilizations.
  • Interrelate linguistic and historical knowledge of the ancient world with knowledge of other fields of the humanities, mainly literature and archaeology.
  • Recognize the most significant periods, traditions, trends, authors and works of Greek, Latin and English literatures in their historical and social context.
  • Students must be capable of communicating information, ideas, problems and solutions to both specialised and non-specialised audiences.
  • Students must develop the necessary learning skills in order to undertake further training with a high degree of autonomy.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Analyse texts belonging to different genres, taking account of historical, social and cultural context.
  2. Apply the basic theoretical concepts to the comprehension of narrative, poetic and dramatic texts.
  3. Apply the different instruments of literary analysis to different types of works.
  4. Autonomously searching, selecting and processing information both from structured sources (databases, bibliographies, specialized magazines) and from across the network.
  5. Discern the singularities of Greek literary production in comparison with its Latin counterpart, and vice versa.
  6. Effectively communicating and applying the argumentative and textual processes to formal and scientific texts.
  7. Express oneself effectively by applying argumentative and textual procedures in formal and scientific texts.
  8. Identify and explain the fundamental principles of the process of literary communication in each one of the genres.
  9. Preparing an oral and written discourse in the corresponding language in a proper and organized way.
  10. Present the formal and thematic characteristics of the works of literary creation of classical antiquity.
  11. Recognise the definition and characteristics of the various literary genres based on metaliterary texts and identify their realisation in specific works.
  12. Recognise the definition and the characteristics of the various literary genres on the basis of the metaliterary texts and identify their exemplification in particular works.
  13. identify the influence of the classical literary genres in texts of the post-classical European literary tradition.



UNIT 1. Introduction to the literary genres of the Graeco-Roman Classical world: - Concept of literature in Classical Antiquity: conceptual, chronological and geographical limits. - The role of literature in the framework of Greek and Roman societies. - The literary genres in Classical Antiquity. - Classification criteria.

UNIT 2. Epic

UNIT 3. Historiography

UNIT 4. Fable, novel and tale

UNIT 5. Oratory and rhetoric

UNIT 6. Tragedy and comedy

UNIT 7. Lyric poetry

UNIT 8. Elegiac poetry and epigram

UNIT 9. Satire

UNIT 10: Bucolic poetry

UNIT 11. Epistolography

UNIT 12. Scientific, technical and encyclopedic literature 

UNIT 13. Christian literature


Students will have to write an essay on a literary topic transversally dealt by Greek and Latin authors. The following is an indicative list of topics that could be addressed:

Proposed topics:

  • amor bonus, amor ferus
  • amor post mortem 
  • aurea mediocritas
  • beatus ille
  • carpe diem
  • fugit irreparabile tempus
  • furor amoris
  • homo viator
  • homo homini lupus
  • ignis amoris
  • locus amoenus
  • militia est vita hominis
  • ne quid nimis
  • non omnis moriar
  • omnia mors aequat
  • pecuniae omnia parent
  • ubi sunt?
  • vanitas vanitatis
  • varium et mutabile semper femina




Classroom activities will be divided into two categories:

    1. Reading and interpreting literary themes and topics. This activity will be carried out with the support of an anthology of Greek and Latin texts that will serve as a starting point for the explanation and the commentary of the formal and thematic characteristics of each of the literary genres included in the course program. The anthology will be uploaded in Campus Virtual.
    2. Participation in the classroom activities.

In addition, the student will have to carry out an essay for which s/he will have to participate in tutorials that will be considered supervised activities for the choice of the topic (see Content section) and the choice of texts that will be object of study.

The accomplishment of the competences of the subject will be achieved largely with the autonomous work of each student, that will be oriented to:

    1. The preparation of the essay on a literary topic.
    2. Complementary texts reading, both of classic authors as well as modern bibliography on the themes and works studied.

Given that numerous scientific studies show that reading on paper improves the understanding and memorization of the contents, while facilitating critical reflection, it is strongly recommended that all the materials available on the Virtual Campus are printed and that the activities and exercises are always work on paper. On the other hand, the use of digital devices (tablets or computers) and mobile phones in the classroom will be restricted to teaching activities and always at the request of the teaching staff.

Annotation: Within the schedule set by the centre or degree programme, 15 minutes of one class will be reserved for students to evaluate their lecturers and their courses or modules through questionnaires.


Title Hours ECTS Learning Outcomes
Type: Directed      
Follow-up of the topics exposition and in-class texts' commentary 35 1.4 2, 1, 5, 9, 13, 12
Participation in in-class activities 5 0.2 2, 3, 1, 9, 10, 6, 8
Type: Supervised      
Orientation tutorials for the selection and preparation of the subject's assignment 5 0.2 4, 5, 9, 6
Reading and commenting on texts 25 1 2, 4, 1, 9, 10, 11
Type: Autonomous      
Assignment elaboration 31 1.24 2, 3, 4, 1, 5, 9, 10, 6, 13, 8, 12
Complementary texts reading (primary and secondary sources) and units study 45 1.8


This subject contemplates a double mode of evaluation:

1) Continuous evaluation:

Continuous evalutaion is a process that must allow students to know their academic progress throughout the course. The evaluation activities that will be taken into account are :

  1. Two theoretical and practical tests, each of which will have a weight of 30% on the final mark.
  2. An essay on a literary topic, which will be worth 20% of the grade.
  3. A test on a compulsory reading of a classic work (to be determined), which will be worth 10% of the final mark.
  4. Attendance and participation in the activities proposed in class, which will be worth 10% of the final grade.
2) Single evaluation:The single evaluation will take into account the following activities:
  1. Two theoretical and practical tests, each of which will have a weight of 30% on the final mark.
  2. An essay on a literary topic, which will be worth 20% of the grade.
  3. A test on a compulsory reading of a classic work (to be determined), which will be worth 10% of the final mark.
  4. A text comment on two passages included in the dossier, with a weight of 10% on the final mark.
In the event of a student committing any irregularity that may lead to a significant variation in the grade awarded to an assessment activity, the student will be given a zero for this activity, regardless of any disciplinary process that may take place. In the event of several irregularities in assessment activities of the same subject, the student will be given a zero as the final grade for this subject.
Not assessable
											Students will receive the grade of "Not assessable" as long as they has not delivered more than 30% of the assessment activities.
Procedure for the review of qualifications Each time a mark is published, the teachers will communicate to the students the date and place of review of the activity evaluated in the Moodle space. Reassessment process
  • In order to be entitled to participate in the reassesment activities, the student must have been previously evaluated in a set of activities whose weight equals to a minimum of 2/3 of the total score.
  • To be able to participate in the reassessment process the student must have obtained a minimum mark of 3.5 on the average grade of the subject.
  • In case of not having passed the set (and if it reaches a minimum of 3.5 points), there will be a reassessment test on the theoretical content of the subject.

Assessment Activities

Title Weighting Hours ECTS Learning Outcomes
1st exam 30% 1.5 0.06 2, 3, 1, 5, 9, 10, 7, 6, 13, 8, 12, 11
2nd exam 30% 1.5 0.06 2, 3, 1, 5, 9, 10, 6, 13, 8, 12
Attendance and active participation in the classroom 10% 0 0 9, 10, 7, 6, 13
Essay on a literary topic 20% 0 0 2, 3, 4, 1, 5, 9, 10, 6, 13, 8, 12
Reading test 10% 1 0.04 2, 3, 1, 5, 9, 10, 6, 13, 8, 12, 11


Ancient Greek Literature Handbooks

ADRADOS, F.R. (1983). Fiesta, comedia y tragedia. Madrid 1983.

ALSINA CLOTA, J. (1967). Literatura griega. Contenido, problemas y métodos. Barcelona: Ariel.

ARTIGAS, E.; HOMAR, R. (2016). L’escena antiga. Martorell: adesiara.

BAKKER, E.J. (ed.) (2010). A Companion to the Ancient Greek Language. Chichester, U.K. ; Malden, MA : Wiley-Blackwell.

BUGH, G.R. (2006). The Cambridge Companion to the Hellenistic World. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press.

CAMBIANO, G.; CANFORA, L.; LANZA, D. (eds.) (1994). Lo spazio letterario della Grecia Antica, I-III. Roma: Sallerno editrice.

CASSIO, A.C. (ed.) (2008). Storia delle lingue letterarie greche. Firenze: Le Monier Università.

DELLA CORTE, F. et al. (1972). Introduzione allo studio della cultura classica. I: Letteratura. Milano: Marzorati editore.

EASTERLING. P.E.; KNOX, B.M.W. (eds.). The Cambridge History of Classical Literature. I: Greek Literature. Cambridge.: Cambridge University Press.

GRETHLEIN, J. (2010). The Greeks and their Past: Poetry, Oratory and History in the fifth Century BCE. Cambridge ; New York : Cambridge University Press.

LESKY, A. (1968). Historia de la literatura griega. Madrid: Gredos.

LÓPEZ EIRE, A. (1994). Los orígenes de la oratoria y la historiografía en la Grecia clásica. Zaragoza : Universidad de Zaragoza.

LÓPEZ FÉREZ, J.A. (ed.) (1988). Historia de la literatura griega. Madrid: Cátedra.

MCDONALD, M.; WALTON, J.M. (eds.). The Cambridge Companion to Greek and Roman Theatre. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press.

MOLINARI, C. (ed.) (1994). Il teatro greco nell'età di Pericle. Bologna: Il mulino.

MOMIGLIANO, A. (1984). La historiografía griega. Barcelona : Crítica.

REVERMAN, M. (2014). The Cambridge Companion to Greek Comedy. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press. 

SAID, S.; TRÉDÉ, M.; LE BOULLUEC, A. (2012). Histoire de la littérature grecque. París: PUF.

SIGNES CODOÑER, J. (2019). Breve guía de la literatura griega desde Hesíodo hasta Pletón. Madrid: Cátedra.

SUSEMIHL, F. (1965). Geschichte der Griechischen Literatur in der Alexandrinerzeit, vol I-II. Hildesheim: Georg Olms.

WHITMARSH, T. (2007). The Cambridge companion to the Greek and Roman novel. Cambridge ; New York : Cambridge University Press.


Latin Literature Handbooks

BAYET, J. (1966), Literatura latina, Barcelona.

BICKEL, E. (1982), Historia de la literatura romana, Madrid.

BIELER, L. (1969), Historia de la literatura romana, Madrid.

BIGNONE, E. (1942-1950), Storia della letteratura latina, Firenze. 

BÜCHNER, K. (1968), Historia de la literatura latina, Barcelona.

CAVALLO, G. - FEDELI, P. - GIARDINA, A. (1989-2005), Lo spazio letterario di Roma antica. Vols. I-VI, Roma.

CAZZANIGA, I. (1962), Storia della letteratura latina, Milano.

CODOÑER, C. (ed.) (1997), Historia de la literatura latina, Madrid.

CONTE, G. B. (1987), Letteratura latina. Manuale storico dalle origini alla fine dell'Impero Romano, Firenze.

FUHRMANN, M. (ed.) (1985). Literatura romana. Madrid.

GENTILI, B. -STUPAZZINI, L. - SIMONETTI, M. (1987), Storia della letteratura latina. Roma-Bari.

GÓMEZ PALLARÈS, J. (2003), Studiosa Roma. Los géneros literarios en la cultura romana, UAB-Bellaterra (Barcelona).

MARTIN, R. - GAILLARD, J. (1990), Les genres litteraires à Rome, Paris.

Von ALBRECHT, M. (1992), Geschichteder römischen Literatur. 2vols. München-New York-London-Paris. (trad. esp. D. Estefanía-A. Pociña, Barcelona, vol. I, 1997; vol. II, 1999).

ZEHMACKER, H. - FREDOUILLE, J.C. (1993), Littérature latine, Paris (20013).


No specific software required.