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Queen's University

*Please note that course syllabi are updated each year in late August 
Prior to August, syllabi on the Classics Department website will reflect the courses as they were offered in the last term or year.  Significant changes in emphasis in course material may occur from year to year, including grading methodology, grade weighting and assignments.   Up-to-date syllabi will be available to students by the first day of class.

LATN 310/410
Epic Poetry and Oratory / Latin Language and Literature


Instructor: B. J. Kavanagh 

Office: Room 514, Watson Hall 
Phone: (613) 533-6000, ext. 74825 

Office Hours: Mondays and Tuesdays 10:00 - 11:30 AM 

Students are required to be familiar with Queen's policy on Academic Integrity .
Please also see:


Course Description

Students will this year be introduced to oratory, history and epic poetry.  All three of our authors were alive from the years 70 until 44 BC.  For the first six weeks of Fall term, students will read Cicero's First Speech against the Catiline.  We shall attempt to read as much of the speech as possible and after that six week period, there will be a test which will examine the understanding of the translation and of the content in the speech.  For the second half of Fall term, students will read the first book of Caesar's Gallic War, again with the intention of reading as much of the book as possible.  The test on this author will take place in January, when students return from the Christmas break.

In the Winter term, we will concentrate on one author, Virgil, specifically Book VI of his Aeneid.  Students will focus on all aspects of this author's poetry, choice language, use of meter, development and portrayal of character.  In Winter term, there will be a mid-term test and the Final Exam for the course will be the second test on Virgil.  The intention is to finish Book VI.

There will be a term paper for this course and it will be due in the Winter term.  The topic is to be agreed upon by both the student and the professor.  The topic must focus on the works covered in class, though it may expand itself beyond that focus.  The topic should be determined by mid-term of Winter term and it will be due in class at the start of the 11th week.

For all 24 weeks, students will be expected to attend all lectures and to prepare the material carefully for each class session.

Required Texts

  1. Cicero's First Catilinarian Oration , Introduction, Running Vocabularies and Notes by Karl Friedrich, Bolchazy-Carducci.
  2. Caesar - De Bello GallicoI, Edited by Colin Ewan.
  3. Virgil's Aeneid, Book VI

There will also be a handout containing vocabulary to be learned and the commentary on Book 1 from R.D. Williams’ edition of the Aeneid. 

Recommended Texts

Cassell’s Latin Dictionary: Latin-English, English-Latin(Maxwell Macmillan)

Note: there are many good mid-size Latin dictionaries on the market. The Cassell's that has been ordered offers excellent value for its price. If a student has a copy of Lewis, or a large Latin dictionary such as Lewis and Short, Freund's, or the O.L.D., the Cassell's... will not be necessary.

Marking Scheme

  • 4 mid-term tests x 20% each = 80%
  • Course essay - 10%
  • Class participation - 10%

Grading Methodology

All components of this course will receive numerical percentage marks.  The final grade you receive for the course will be derived by converting your numerical course average to a letter grade according to Queen’s Official Grade Conversion Scale:

                                          Queen’s Official Grade Conversion Scale


Numerical Course Average (Range)


























49 and below 




  1. Latin 410 students will have one extra passage on the term exam, amounting to approximately 20% of the value of the exam.
  2. Because regular practice is extremely important in helping to learn a language, you are very strongly encouraged to prepare carefully for each class: this means being able to make a decent attempt at translating the Latin and explaining grammatical, syntactical, and morphological points, and being ready with questions about material you do not understand. Because the class meets only twice a week, missing a class will be particularly damaging. Not only will some material that is discussed in class, but which is not in your textbooks, inevitably appear on the exams, but the extra exposure to the Latin that comes from being in class and working through problems in the Latin greatly helps most students understand the material. If students have not prepared enough material to fill the class time, I will continue translating my own.

    Students should note that they cannot expect to miss, or come unprepared for, many classes (without good reason) and then make these up by extensive private tutorial sessions with me. Students that show a commitment to the class will have the most call on my help.
  3. Virtually every language class at the university level expects students to know a certain amount of vocabulary and grammar. The goal of a Latin class is for students to be able to read Latin, and a student with a poor vocabulary who has to look up most words in a dictionary and much morphology and syntax in a grammar cannot be said to be reading Latin, but rather deciphering it. Unseen translation is a key tool for testing students’ understanding of a language. To this purpose, 30% of the final exam will comprise a passage from Vergil’s Aeneid for translation at sight. You will be expected to know the vocabulary on pages 97 - 111 of Pharr’s edition (Bolchazy-Carducci) and in a complementary list of the remaining most common classical Latin words (which I will hand out early in the term). Almost all other vocabulary will be glossed.

    Students often have a great fear of unseen translation, but this need not be. You can get practice reading unseen Latin every time you prepare for class. You should read through the Latin before you, progressing by sentences or clauses (paying particular attention to the number and location of finite verbs), and try to understand as much as you can before turning to your dictionaries, grammars, and translations. You should note the meaning of words you recognize, briefly attempt to understand words you might not have met (working from your knowledge of English and other Latin words), note the case and number of nouns and adjectives and the number, voice, mood and tense of verbs. You should try to link what words go together: nouns and adjectives, subjects, objects and verbs, prepositions and nouns, etc. Only when you have some idea of what the clause or sentence might mean, or have reached the point where you cannot progress further on the basis of what you know, should you turn to aids. Then by paying close attention in class, and not merely writing down a proper translation, you gain further important exposure to the Latin. Students that do well on unseen translations are almost always students that prepare carefully for class and are rarely absent.

    Nonetheless, about every fifth or sixth class will be given over to working through a passage of unfamiliar Latin (which will not be on the exam), in order to give you plenty of exposure to the practice of reading Latin at sight. These exercises will not be announced ahead of time: this is another reason for students to try to attend every class. These exercises will also reduce the potential amount of seen Latin for the term exam.
  4. Marks may be deducted for poor English skills from any work, including exams, handed in to the instructor. Grammar and spelling are important at all times.
  5. You should note that the term exam will be held within the scheduled examination period in December. The exam could as easily be scheduled for the last day as for the first day and you should not make travel plans for during the exam period. Wanting to leave early for your December vacation is not a valid excuse for missing an exam. Missed exams may be made up only in the case of family crisis/emergency, or  religious conflict. You should contact the instructor as soon as you know you might have a conflict or as possible after missing an exam.  These measures are intended solely to be fair to students who complete all course components, not to punish those who encounter some misfortune or hardship.
  6. Students are responsible for familiarizing themselves with the regulations concerning academic integrity.  They must read the section on academic integrity in the Arts and Science Calendar (see http://www., and consult the links embedded in that document.

    Departures from academic integrity include plagiarism, use of unauthorized materials, facilitation, forgery and falsification, and are antithetical to the development of an academic community at Queen's.  Given the seriousness of these matters, actions that contravene the regulation on academic integrity carry sanctions that can range from a warning or the loss of grades on an assignment to the failure of a course to a requirement to withdraw from the university.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is constituted by the five core fundamental values of honesty, trust, fairness, respect and responsibility (see These values are central to the building, nurturing and sustaining of an academic community in which all members of the community will thrive. Adherence to the values expressed through academic integrity forms a foundation for the "freedom of inquiry and exchange of ideas" essential to the intellectual life of the University.

Students are responsible for familiarizing themselves with the regulations concerning academic integrity and for ensuring that their assignments conform to the principles of academic integrity. Information on academic integrity is available in the Arts and Science Calendar (see  Academic Regulations), on the Arts and Science website and from the instructor of this course.

Departures from academic integrity include plagiarism, use of unauthorized materials, facilitation, forgery and falsification, and are antithetical to the development of an academic community at Queen's. Given the seriousness of these matters, actions which contravene the regulation on academic integrity carry sanctions that can range from a warning or the loss of grades on an assignment to the failure of a course to a requirement to withdraw from the university.


The material in this outline is copyrighted and is for the sole use of students registered in LATN 310 or LATN 410.  This material shall not be distributed or disseminated to anyone other than students registered in LATN 310 or LATN 410.  Failure to abide by these conditions constitutes a breach of academic integrity under the University Senate's Academic Integrity Policy Statement.


This page was last updated 24 August, 2012.

Department of Classics, 505 Watson Hall
Kingston, Ontario, Canada. K7L 3N6.
P: 613.533.2745 | F: 613.533.6739