New Books in the Arts & Sciences:
Celebrating Recent Work by James Zetzel
Critics, Compilers, and Commentators: An Introduction to Roman Philology, 200 BCE-800 CE
By: James E.G. Zetzel
"To teach correct Latin and to explain the poets" were the two standard duties of Roman teachers. Not only was a command of literary Latin a prerequisite for political and social advancement, but a sense of Latin's history and importance contributed to the Romans' understanding of their own cultural identity. Put plainly, philology-the study of language and texts-was important at Rome. Critics, Compilers, and Commentators is the first comprehensive introduction to the history, forms, and texts of Roman philology. James Zetzel traces the changing role and status of Latin as revealed in the ways it was explained and taught by the Romans themselves. In addition, he provides a descriptive bibliography of hundreds of scholarly texts from antiquity, listing editions, translations, and secondary literature. Recovering a neglected but crucial area of Roman intellectual life, this book will be an essential resource for students of Roman literature and intellectual history, medievalists, and historians of education and language science.
About the Author:
James E. G. Zetzel is Anthon Professor of the Latin Language and Literature, and has taught at Columbia for more than 25 years. His teaching regularly includes courses on the history of Latin literature and on individual authors or topics in the literature of the first century BCE as well as courses on ancient political theory and ancient law. He also regularly teaches in Contemporary Civilization, which he chaired for 4 years. His publications include two books on the history of Latin texts, a commentary on Cicero’s De re publica, and two volumes of translations of Cicero. Articles on Catullus, Horace, and Propertius have been reprinted in volumes of Oxford Readings in Classical Studies on those authors, and he has contributed to Cambridge Companions on Cicero and Virgil. He has also written about the literary history of the late Republic and Augustan periods, about Roman textual criticism and ancient forgeries, and about the appropriation of Greek culture in Ciceronian Rome. He edited Transactions of the American Philological Association from 1982 to 1986. He has been awarded research fellowships by the American Council of Learned Societies, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation.
About the Speakers:
John Ma joined the Classics Department in 2015, after working at Corpus Christi College and the Faculty of Classics at Oxford for fifteen years. Before that, he worked in the Classics Department at Princeton (during which period he lived in New York). He received a B.A. (Literae Humaniores) and D.Phil. (Ancient History) from Oxford University. His main interests lie in the history of the ancient Greek world and its broader context (including the ancient near-east). Within Greek history, he is particularly interested in the handling of epigraphical and archaeological evidence, historical geography, and the complexities of the Hellenistic world. His research tries to combine philological attentiveness (especially in the case of Greek inscriptions), interpretive awareness (for literary but also documentary evidence), groundedness in materiality and concrete space, and a feeling for legal, social and economic realities.
Gareth Williams has taught at Columbia's Department of Classics since 1992. He received a Ph.D. in 1990 from Cambridge University for a dissertation on Ovid’s exilic writings that subsequently resulted in two books, the first Banished Voices: Readings in Ovid’s Exile Poetry (Cambridge, 1994) and the second The Curse of Exile: A Study of Ovid’s Ibis, Proceedings of the Cambridge Philological Society Supplementary Volume 19 (Cambridge, 1996). Two distinct research phases followed, the first of which focused on the Latin ethical writings of Lucius Annaeus Seneca. Two monographs resulted, the first an edition with commentary of L. Annaeus Seneca: Selected Moral Dialogues. De Otio, De Brevitate Vitae (Cambridge, 2003); the second, The Cosmic Viewpoint: A Study of Seneca’s Natural Questions (Oxford, 2012), was awarded the Goodwin Award of Merit by the Society for Classical Studies in 2014. Most recently, among various other projects and edited volumes in the area of Roman philosophy, his research has focused on the socio-literary culture of Renaissance Venice, an interest that recently resulted in the publication of Pietro Bembo on Etna: The Ascent of a Venetian Humanist (Oxford, 2017).
Professor David Levene's primary interests are in Latin prose literature (especially historiography and rhetoric), Roman religion, and the history of the Roman Republic. Before coming to NYU he taught at Oxford, Durham, and Leeds; among his awards are a Leverhulme Trust Major Research Fellowship (2004-2006), a Visiting Fellowship at All Souls College, Oxford (2013), and the R.D. Milns Visiting Professorship at the University of Queensland (2015). He has written two books on Livy: Religion in Livy (Leiden, 1993), and Livy on the Hannibalic War (Oxford, 2010); his current major project is an edition with commentary of Livy's fragments and epitome. He has also published on Tacitus, Cicero, Sallust, Polybius, Pompeius Trogus, and Latin panegyric; his other current projects include studies of Quintilian and Cornelius Nepos. He has edited the Oxford World's Classics edition of Tacitus' Histories and co-edited (with Damien Nelis) Clio and the Poets: Augustan Poetry and the Traditions of Ancient Historiography (Leiden, 2002). Other interests include ancient Judaism, and the reception of the ancient world in 19th century literature and the 20th century cinema; he has written and taught on all of these.
Professor Christopher Baswell rejoins the faculty at Barnard and Columbia after a period as Professor of English and Associate Director of the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies at UCLA, 2001-2008. Baswell’s earliest research was in the reception and transformation of classical literature, especially narratives of empire and dynastic foundation, in the vernacular cultures of the European Middle Ages. He has approached these issues through the optic of original manuscripts, and in the light of the multilingualism of medieval France and England. Some of this research resulted in Virgil in Medieval England: Figuring the Aeneid from the Twelfth Century to Chaucer (Cambridge UP 1995), which won the 1998 Beatrice White Prize of the English Association. Further work on foundation narratives has led to articles and a forthcoming monograph on narratives of female foundation and their challenge to a dominant tradition of founding fathers. Baswell is also at work on new research on the cultural imagination of disability in the Middle Ages. He has held fellowships from the NEH, the ACLS, the National Humanities Center, and the Institute for Advanced Study. Baswell is co-editor of the medieval volume of the Longman Anthology of British Literature. He is General Editor of the series Cursor Mundi: Viator Studies of the Medieval and Early Modern World(Brepols).