Roman writers were heavily influenced by Greek literature. Early Latin writers translated and adapted Greek forms for Roman audiences. Over time, the Latin writers developed their own genres, most notable of which is satire.
Only a few women who wrote in the ancient world are known when education was limited to only a few people and most of them were men.
Ancient Roman Writers
The targets chosen by satirists like Petronius and Juvenal tell us a huge amount about society at the time. Petronius wrote about people who had become newly rich. Juvenal wrote about former emperors and rich patrons. Funny and cruel but always accurate, the satirists are still read today 2,000 years later.
Few Ancient Roman Authors
Velleius Paterculus, an excellent historian and his Historicae Romanae is an abridgment of the history of the world.
Wife of Calenus, she’s noted for mentions by other Roman Writers, including Martial, but only two lines of her poetry survive. It’s even questioned whether these were authentic or created in late antiquity or even medieval times.
His account of the Germans was a silent satire upon the corrupt condition of the Roman state. The Historiarum Libri is a famous history of Rome.
Wife of a Roman commander based in England (Vindolanda), Claudia Severa is known through a letter found in the 1970s. Part of the letter, written on a wooden tablet, seems to be written by a scribe and part in her own hand.
Quintus Curtius Rufus
Quintus Curtius Rufus wrote, in ten books, an account of the exploits of Alexander the Great.
Publius Vergilius Maro (70BC – 19BC) is quite possibly the greatest of Latin poets to have graced this earth. Though he started off from a humble background, he had the opportunity to study philosophy and rhetoric in Rome. It was while he was in Rome that his poems caught the attention of Maecenas and Octavius (who later became Augustus). It was, in fact, Augustus who gave orders that ‘The Aeneid’ be published and preserved after Virgil’s death.
Suetonius wrote the lives of the twelve Caesars, ending with Domitian.
who perhaps lived under Trajan wrote an epitome of Roman history.
Titus Livius popularly known as Livy was born in Padova, Northern Italy. He began writing his greatest work of ‘Ar Urbe Condita’ in 26BC but never finished it. Of this great work of 142 books, only a handful remain preserved, Books 1 – 10 and 21 – 45.
The rest are in fragments. Lucretius was a little-known poet. Juvenalis was a satirist who criticized Roman life during the reigns of Domitian and Nero. Cicero, of course, is well known for his many speeches and philosophical documents. He was a Roman writer and politician who unfortunately was murdered at the orders of Marc Antony in 43BC.
Philosophy, since the time of Cicero, had become a favorite study with the Romans, although they produced no remarkable philosopher. Seneca, the most eminent of them, was the son of M. Annaeus Seneca, the rhetorician. His various essays and other writings are famous.
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