By Sander M. Goldberg
How the Romans got here to have a literature reflecting local and international impulses, and the way it shaped a legacy for next generations became vital questions within the cultural historical past of the Republic. This booklet explores the advance of Roman literary sensibility from early curiosity in epic and drama, via invention of satire and eventual enshrining of books in public collections very important to Horace and Ovid. The "early" literature is noticeable to be a product much less of the mid-Republic, whilst poetic texts started to movement, than of the overdue Republic, once they have been systematically gathered and canonized.
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Additional resources for Constructing Literature in the Roman Republic: Poetry and Its Reception
4, Plin. Nat. 11, cf. Gotter 2003: 117–19). For Cato’s emphasis on communal glory in the preface to his work, see Cugusi 1994, who rightly restores to it the remark about the archaic carmina. 291–92. A. Furius was the familiaris of Q. Lutatius Catulus, consul in 102 (Cic. Brut. 132). The subject of his epic is unknown. See Courtney 1993: 97–98, and for the poets of the post-Ennian Republic, Goldberg 1995: 135–36. Comparable Ennian lines include Ann. 177, 249, 392, 620. 28 The Muse Arrives whose inevitable results were both a characteristic epic style for the benefit of poets and a literary memory that gave words connotations as well as meanings to enrich the experience of readers.
17 Countertendencies like these suggest that Ennius’ replacement of the old aesthetic was neither complete nor immediate among readers with a literary turn. Less technically committed readers would also have had a quite practical reason to lose interest in the poem: its content was quickly overtaken by events. 18 The poem’s conclusion was even less appealing. The chastisement of Aetolians and Istrians, which the Annales celebrated so earnestly, soon paled before Aemilius Paullus’ victory in Maecedonia, which opened a new chapter in the political and cultural life of Rome by securing Roman dominance in the east, while vastly increasing the westward flow of Greek material and literary culture.
6 Propertius reveals less about the poem Vergil was writing than about what he himself expected a contemporary epic to contain. And with reason. The success of Ennius’ Annales had so codified and canonized the early history of Rome and established history as the subject of Latin epic that later poets could imagine little more than a continuation of its story. By seizing upon the relatively obscure story of Aeneas in Italy, Vergil was able to solve one of the great literary problems of the day. 7 Yet even when the practice of epic was at its lowest ebb, the idea of epic never lost its status.