Cornell College Classical Studies
About Cornell Academics Admissions Alumni Athletics Offices Library
Home > Latin

Introduction to Latin Literature

Related Topics


Ariadne: Resources for Athenaze
Let's Review Greek!

Pedagogical Materials
Roman Portraits
Scriba Software
VRoma Project

Painting of three couples in a summer triclinium. Pompeii.

Instructor: John Gruber-Miller, College 312, x4326,

Class meetings: M-F 10:00-11:15 a.m. and 1-3 p.m.

Office Hours: M W F 11:15-12 noon and always by appointment.

Required Materials:

  • Beth Severy-Hoven, ed. The Satyrica of Petronius: An Intermediate Reader with Commentary and Guided Review. Oklahoma 2014. 
  • Sarah Ruden, trans. Petronius. Satyricon. Hackett, 2000.


  • Robin M. Griffin. A Student’s Latin Grammar. Rev. by Ed Phinney. Cambridge University Press, 1992.

The major goals of the course

  • to learn to read with some facility the Latin prose (and verse) of Petronius (Knowledge, Communication)
  • to understand the culture and society of Neronian Rome, including the role of slavery in Roman life, Roman funerary customs, and Roman conviviality (Inquiry, Intercultural Literacy)
  • to become familiar with the style, types of humor, and values in the first Roman novel (Communication, Ethical Behavior)
  • to make a Roman banquet come to life (Inquiry, Citizenship)
  • to learn to work together with your peers on a common project (Citizenship, Well-Being)

Course Requirements

Class Preparation and Participation: preparation of Latin reading and interactive reading journal, participation in class discussions and other activities, quizzes, other assignments, etc.

Collaborative work: Collaboration is an essential skill for success both in and outside of the academic world. By working with several others on various tasks, you can take advantage of different people's strengths, e.g. specific knowledge, ability to explain ideas and concepts, talent for asking good questions, aptitude for negotiating difficulties, organizational skills, leadership, and humor. Working together gives you an opportunity to learn from each other, test out ideas, and tackle a larger problem than a single person could easily do in the same amount of time. At the same time, working together can be difficult because of different expectations and experience. Learning when to stand firm and when to compromise and when to prod are difficult skills that take lots of practice.

At the beginning of the course, small groups may work outside of class reviewing grammar. Throughout the course, small groups may meet to work at reading comprehension of the Latin text or reading each other’s interactive reading journal. Later in the course, small groups will work together to prepare oral reports. Two times during the block, members of the class will read one other person’s compositions and comment on it.

Interactive Reading Journal: Each night, you will prepare for the next day’s class by completing an interactive reading journal. Before beginning the reading, you will make predictions in Latin about what the reading will be about. After reading the text, you will summarize in Latin what you have read, identify significant vocabulary, isolate difficult passages, identify grammar to be reviewed, and prepare questions for in-class discussion. Preparing the reading journal will not only help your command of written Latin, but will provide a foundation for understanding Petronius' text.

Latin compositions: In order to reinforce the grammar and vocabulary of Petronius and to prepare for the midterm and final, students will write two compositions.

  1. Choose one. 1) With a partner, write a description of one character from the Satyricon (no more than one page, double-spaced). How does this character act? What does this character feel or think about the others? What does this character want or hope to do (motivation)? Why does s/he act/feel/think this way? Please try to use a variety of vocabulary and sentence structures (e.g., participles, subordinate clauses) as a review. It is perfectly acceptable to use Petronius' language in the Satyricon and adapt what he wrote; or 2) Rewrite passage 37-38.4 so that Trimalchio and Fortunata reverse roles (Post-Reading Activity #1, p. 204). Due: the second Monday.
  2. In groups of two or three, write a script (dialogue) retelling a story, a myth, a series of jokes, or an event, either from the Satyricon or from classical literature, to entertain the party-goers at the Roman banquet at the end of the course. You are encouraged to use Petronius' language in the Satyricon and adapt it for your script. Due: third Wednesday.

Class Presentation: All members of the class will give a 15-20 minute presentation during the second week of block on their area of expertise after reading the appropriate secondary material. These reports should accomplish two things:

  1. inform the rest of the class about Roman cultural practice in your area.
  2. propose specific suggestions for the class Roman banquet.

Each group should present to the class a written summary/outline of the material they read and a written report on the suggestions for the banquet.

Summary/Reaction: In addition, everyone will read one 12-25 page article or chapter on the Satyricon (articles listed in the bibliography), and then write a typed, 1-2 page summary and 1-2 page response to it (due Monday of Week 3). Here is a rubric to help you.

Midterm and Final: the midterm as well as the final may include translation/reading comprehension of a prepared passage, commentary on a particular passage (grammatical, cultural, and/or literary), a composition in Latin, and/or an essay (more general questions about Roman culture and literary interpretation). The final may also include translation of an unseen passage with the help of notes and a dictionary.

Roman Banquet: Each person will participate in some aspect of the class production of a bilingual re-enactment of a Roman banquet to be staged during the 4th week of block. Each person's participation will be crucial to the success of the performance, thus grading will be based on a) the effort you put into your role, b) your constant cooperation with the other members of the production team, and c) the timeliness with which you accomplish each task (e.g. learning your script/dialogue, finishing costumes, finding and preparing food, building a Roman triclinium by the deadlines). The various tasks and responsibilities involved in the cena can be found here.

To make it easier for me to assess your involvement in the banquet, everyone will keep a daily log of the tasks they worked on each day, who they worked with, and how much time they spent on each task. At the end of the course, you will turn this in along with a one or two page reflection summarizing what you accomplished, what you learned from the experience about Roman culinary practices and Roman power dynamics, what you wished you had done but were not able to do.


  • preparation for and participation in class, interactive reading journal, pop quizzes, compositions, etc. 30 %
  • midterm (2nd Fri) 20 %
  • final (final Wed) 20 %
  • creative project, incl. presentation, summary/response, reflection 30 %

There will be no make-up quizzes. Exams can be made up only if pre-arranged and with a note from a doctor.

Letter grades will be assigned according to the following pattern:

A 93-100

B 83-86

C 73-76

D 63-66

A- 90-92

B- 80-82

C- 70-72

D- 60-62

B+ 87-89

C+ 77-79

D+ 67-69

F below 60

Final Note: Do not get behind at any time. Ask for help before you feel you are slipping. Carpe diem!


Attendance: Since our afternoon class format is based primarily on participation, discussion, and small group work, it is essential that you come to class every day, prepared and ready to participate actively. Since our morning work is team-based and collaborative, it is essential that you attend every meeting or rehearsal by your student team leader. Any unexcused absence after one missed class period will harm your final grade. If you must miss class, please inform me ahead of time if at all possible. If you have a fever and other symptoms of the flu, please do not come to class until you have been fever-free for 24 hours.

Deadlines: No late work will be accepted. If an emergency or illness occurs, please let me know immediately so that other plans can be arranged.

Academic Integrity: According to the Cornell College Student Handbook, plagiarism is "is the act of taking the work of another and presenting it as one's own, without acknowledgement of the original source." In other words, copying another student's work, using unauthorized information on tests (e.g. online sites, translation apps), using others' ideas, words, even sentence structure, without crediting them are all serious academic offenses. Plagiarism also includes writing a paper for another person, borrowing or buying an essay and submitting it as your own, or paraphrasing an article but forgetting to document it. Click here for Cornell's policy on Academic Honesty.

Accomodations for different learning styles: Cornell College is committed to providing equal educational opportunities to all students.  If you have a documented learning disability and will need any accommodation in this course, you must request the accommodation(s) from me as early as possible and no later than the third day of the term. Additional information about the policies and procedures for accommodation of learning disabilities is available on the Cornell website at


Cornell College
600 First Street West
Mt Vernon, IA 52314

John Gruber-Miller
(319) 895-4326

Maintained by: Classical Studies
Fatal error: Uncaught Error: Call to undefined function lastMod() in W:\html\public\classical_studies\latin\lat205cena.shtml:360 Stack trace: #0 {main} thrown in W:\html\public\classical_studies\latin\lat205cena.shtml on line 360