Latin literature II Posted by on Feb 29, 2012 in Latin Language, Roman culture

Literary genres

Classical literature was divided into various literary genres, which remain to these days. However, the scope of this concept has changed: in Greece and Rome genres had a clear formal distinction, no one could write a play with dactylic hexameter verses. The formal distinction between genders was sharp and did not affect only the style and the topics covered, but even it affected the written dialect.

Traditionally there are three major genres called lyrical, epic and dramatic genres that are poetic, written in verse. We could that Aristotle in his Poetics was the first to theorize about literature. Following Aristotle, the Hellenistic World continued with the theoretical study of literature, from where it went to Rome.

We have in Horace’s Ars Poetica the continuation of this tradition in Rome. In this tradition was created, as happened in other disciplines, the terminology of the literature. Terms as ‘anaphora’, ‘poetry’, ‘synecdoche’ (of Greek origin) or verse, prose, literature (of Latin origin) were created.

But besides these major genres of poetry, other prose genres were also cultivated in antiquity. Among these I must highlight the philosophy and scientific and technical prose, the novel, historiography, and especially the rhetoric and oratory.

In Rome there were some literary genres themselves. The Romans distinguished in the theater among the works of native origin and of Greek origin: the first was called fabula togata (play performed in a toga) and fabula palliata (play performed with pallium), referring to the sartorial actors.

Probably the most important genuine literary genre of Rome is satire, satura in Latin, a stew that mixed all, was a poetic genre that mixed various contents, but had the common feature of being bitterly criticizing.





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