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Woodman lecture

Woodman, The 'Epigraphic Habit' and Latin Literature Friday, September 10, 2010

A. J. Woodman, Basil L. Gildersleeve Professor of Classics at the University of Virginia, gave a public lecture entitled "The 'Epigraphic Habit' and Latin Literature" at Ware House, on Friday, September 10. The lecture was followed by a reception, also at Ware House.

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His lecture began with some modern parallels and then looked at how classical Latin literature was influenced by ancient epigraphy. He discussed a wide variety of texts, both epigraphic (memorials and other inscriptions) and literary (letters, poems, histories).

Professor Woodman is known for his masterful commentaries on Velleius (Cambridge 1977 & 1983) and Tacitus (with R. A. Martin, Cambridge 1989 & 1996) as well as his groundbreaking and still controversial book Rhetoric in Classical Historiography (Croom Helm 1988), which argues that ancient historians wrote history as a literary and highly rhetorical genre and that they were not primarily concerned with factual truth, at least in the modern sense.

His strong feelings about the literary quality of Latin historiography led him to translate his favorite historians, Sallust (Penguin 2007) and Tacitus (Hackett 2004), so as to reproduce as much of their characteristic style as possible. Finally, he also has done considerable work on late republican and Augustan Latin poetry including a recent co-edited volume that looks at interactions between historical and poetic genres, Latin Historiography and Poetry in the Early Empire: Generic Interactions (with John Miller, Brill 2010).