Sunoikisis Latin 2012: Late Antique and Medieval Latin Literature

Seminar Consultant: Prof. Bridget Balint (Indiana University)

Course Director: Prof. Dave Guinee (DePauw University)

Course Faculty: Sarah Bond (Marquette University), Brad Cook (University of Mississippi), Curtis Dozier (Vassar College), Ryan Fowler (Center for Hellenic Studies), Halford Haskell (Southwestern University), Steve Maiullo (Hope College), Krinstina Meinking (Elon University), Joseph Romero (University of Mary Washington), Scott Rubarth (Rollins College), Lindsay Samson (Agnes Scott College), Susan Satterfield (Rhodes College), Holly Sypniewski (Millsaps College)


NB: All common sessions will occur on Wednesday evenings at 7:00 EST. Weeks are listed starting on Monday and ending on Sunday of the week before each common session. Students should complete all listed readings in the week before the lecture and respond to posted study questions by Sunday night before the common session, so that faculty and other students will have the opportunity to review responses.


This course, making extensive use of Internet resources, focuses on the evolution of Latin literature during late antiquity and the medieval period. We will read sample texts from a millenium of Latin writings, beginning in the third century and continuing until the twelfth. Students will read and study the works of some of the major authors of the period, including Tertullian, Jerome, Augustine, Prudentius, Anselm, Abelard, Heloise, John of Salisbury, and others. Although the course will touch upon many themes (e.g. religion, education, gender, and transmission of texts), the meaning of Latin itself and Classical Culture — their use, reuse, and transformation —  are the overarching concern of the course.

Students will participate in a weekly webcast lecture, an on-line discussion moderated by faculty members from participating institutions in Sunoikisis, and weekly tutorials with faculty members at their home institutions.


This course is specifically designed for advanced students and will include a rigorous study of the cultural and historical context during late antiquity and the medieval period. Students will continue developing their understanding of the language by studying the literature as it evolved over this long period of time. The goals of this course are to read and enjoy late antique and medieval Latin poetry and prose with full comprehension of form and content; to master its genres and conventions and follow essential points of written discourse; to demonstrate an awareness of the aesthetic properties of medieval Latin language and literary style and how these differ from classical Latin; to begin developing avenues towards understanding the historical, social, and cultural world of the medieval period as the bridge between antiquity and the modern world and the problems associated with such "periodization" of history. 

Course Components

Preparation: As noted below, readings are organized by common session, and students should read all assigned primary texts by the end of the week before the common session. Students who choose to take this course at the 295 rather than 395 level will be responsible for less reading in Latin but will be expected to complete all of the reading in English.

Common Sessions: Wednesdays, 7-8:30 PM Eastern. Students at all partipating institutions will meet together online for a common session via multipoint interactive video-conferencing and a chat room. These interactive sessions have a different faculty leader each week and typically combine mini-lectures with discussion, questions, and exercises.

Study Questions: Responses to the study questions are due Wednesdays, with additional responses due on Fridays. The study questions afford students the opportunity to expand on and synthesize issues that arise in the reading and common session, as well as engage with secondary literature. Students may be asked to complete additional reading in English for the study questions.

Due Dates and Times for Discussion Questions
Time Activity
10 PM (ED/ST) Sundays First Answers to Study Questions due
4 PM (ED/ST) Tuesdays Responses to other students' answers due

Tutorials: Each student will meet for at least one hour every week with a mentor at her or his home institution. The times and locations of these meetings will be determined on each campus. Students are responsible for contacting their faculty mentors and finalizing the details of their weekly meetings. These sessions will focus more closely on issues of language, translation and interpretation of assigned readings. Home campus mentors will be the final authority for all grades.

Examinations: Translation exams and quizzes will be handled by home institutions, but there will be a communally designed essay-based midterm and final exam that will be administered and graded by course faculty as a whole. Students will often be asked to interpret passages of Latin or use passages to support their arguments on the midterm and final. Individual course faculty have some latitude in how they will assess final grades, but the following formulas are suggested.

For students in ICLAT 295, grades will be based on the following components:
Class preparation and work in tutorial: 40%
Participation in the study questions: 30%
Midterm examination: 15%
Final examination: 15%

For students in ICLAT 395, grades will be based on the following components:
Class preparation and work in tutorial: 30%
Participation in the study questions: 30%
Midterm examination: 20%
Final examination: 20%

Suggested Texts
Harrington, K. and J. Pucci. Medieval Latin (2nd ed.). Chicago, 1997.
Lewis, Charlton and Charles Short. A Latin Dictionary. Oxford, 1879. (Lewis and Short contains more references to late Latin than the Oxford Latin Dictionary. A good web interface for Lewis and Short isGlossa.)
Sidwell, S. Reading Medieval Latin. Cambridge, 1995.

Most texts and commentaries will be made available in the resources section of the Sakai site for the class, but indiviudal faculty may require students to purchase one or more texts.

Schedule of Readings and Common Sessions

(Texts and links for each session's are available in the Resources folder, organized by session.)

Session I Readings (to be completed Aug 27–Sept 2)
  • All: Eutropius 1.1-2 and 10.5-8 (in Latin) and Peter Brown, The World of Late Antiquity 7-21.
  • Advanced: Eutropius 10.9-10 (in Latin).


First Common Session (September 5): "Rises and Falls: The Roman Mediterranean before Constantine," Sarah Bond


Session II Readings (to be completed Sept 3-9) 

  • All Students: Selections for Vulgate Exodous
  • Advanced: Selection from Jerome Letter to Eustochium,


Second Common Session (September 12): "The Problem of Inheritance: Patristic Authors and Classical Texts,” Kristina Meinking


Session III Readings (to be completed Sept 10-16)

  • All Students: Augustine, Confessions 1.20-22
  • Advanced: Augustine, De Doctrina Christiana 2.144-147 (on Sakai)


Third Common Session (September 19): "Augustine and Education," Curtis Dozier


Session IV Readings (to be completed Sept 17-23) 

  • Augustine, 99.1 (Letter to Italica) [ ]
  • Jerome 127.12-14 (Letter to Principia) [ 400 words]
  • Tertullian, De Spectaculis 29 [ 198 words]


Fourth Common Session (September 26): "Excavating the Archaeology of Rome," Hal Haskell


Session V Readings (to be completed Sept 24-30)


Fifth Common Session (October 3): “Allegory: Christian Lessons and Pagan Traditions,” Lindsay Samson

Session VI Readings (to be completed Oct 1-14) 

  • All: Rule of Benedict Prologue to "Ecce pietate sua demonstrat nobis Dominus viam vitae", then from "Cum ergo interrogassemus Dominum" to end of Prologue (in Latin); Rule of Benedict Sections 1-3, 5-11, 16-30, 36, 37, 45, 48, 55, 58, 59, 61-63 in English). Latin texts are available via The Latin Library.
  • Advanced: Entire prologue of the Rule in Latin.


Sixth Common Session (October 17): Monasticism — Ora et labora, Susan Satterfield


Session VII Readings (to be completed Oct 15-21)

  • All Students, selections from Anselm’s Proslogion, Sidwell pp. 236-240.
  • Advanced Students: read Anselm selections through Sidwell 242.


Seventh Common Session (October 24): Anselm and Medieval Philosophy, Scott Rubarth


Session VIII Readings (to be completed Oct 22-28)

  • All: Einhard, Life of Charlemagne 24–25 (in Latin, Harrington-Pucci pp. 244–245); Alcuin, O mea cella (in Latin, Harrington-Pucci pp. 225–227); Alcuin, The Nightingale (English); Alcuin, Letter to Aethelred (English, on sack of Lindisfarne in AD 793); Paul the Deacon, “Reply to Peter” (English, on education)
  • Advanced: Einhard, Life of Charlemagne 19 (in Latin, Harrington-Pucci pp. 241–242)


Eighth Common Session (October 31): The Carolingians, Brad Cook


Session IX Readings (to be completed Oct 29-Nov 4)

  • All: Anglo-Latin riddles (Sidwell p.100-101); Nigel Whitacre (Pucci pp. 616-618, lines 1-69)
  • Advanced: Nigel Whitacre (Sidwell pp. 357-359)


Ninth Common Session (November 7): “Riddles, Satire, and Vernacular Literature,” Steve Maiullo


Session X Readings (to be completed Nov 5-11)

  • All: Selections from Peter Abelard, Sidwell pp. 278-281 (sections i-iii)
  • Advanced: Abelard, Sidwell pp 281-283 (sections iv and v); Heloise, Sidwell pp. 284-285 (section ii).


Tenth Common Session (November 14): Abelard, (needs title) Joe Romero


Session XI Readings (to be completed Nov 12-25)

  • All: Readings from Carmina Burana (Fas et nefas ambulant; O fortuna; Iam dulcis amica venito; Vacillantis trutine)
  • Advanced: Archpoet, Fama tuba dante sonum (Sidwell pp. 347-352)


Eleventh Common Session (November 28): On Manuscripts, (needs title), Bridget Balint


Session XII Readings (to be completed Nov 26-Dec 2)

  • All: John of Salisbury, Sidwell pp. 255-258, section i (in Latin); English: Martianus Capella, Marriage 131-150 (Stahl pp. 45-51).
  • Advanced Students: John of Sailsbury, Sidwell pp. 258-259,section ii, lines 1-19


Twelfth Common Session (December 5): Liberal Arts and Education, Holly Sypniewski