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Ancient Rome


History >> Ancient Rome

The history of Roman literature begins around the 3rd century BC. It reached its "Golden Age" during the rule of Augustus and the early part of the Roman Empire. The Romans wrote a lot of poetry and history. They also wrote letters and made a lot of formal speeches.

What language did they use?

Latin was the main language used for writing during Ancient Rome. Greek was also a popular language because it was used by so many people in the eastern portion of the Roman empire.

What did the Romans write on?

Important documents were written on papyrus scrolls (made from the papyrus plant in Egypt) or on parchment (pages made from animal skin). They wrote with a metal pin that they dipped in ink. For more temporary day-to-day writing they used a wax tablet or thin pieces of wood.


Side portrait of Virgil
The Poet Virgil by Unknown
Perhaps the most famous type of Roman literature is poetry. The three most famous Roman poets are Virgil, Horace, and Ovid.
Speeches and Rhetoric

The art of rhetoric (the ability to speak in public and persuade others) was considered an important skill in Ancient Rome. Many Roman statesmen wrote down their ideas and speeches. The writings of some of these men had a major impact on the use of the Latin language and Roman literature. The most famous of these men was Cicero who wrote letters, speeches, and works on philosophy. Cicero's ideas eventually got him killed when he spoke out against Mark Antony.


Roman literature also includes many writers who recorded the history of Rome. The most famous Roman historian was Livy. Livy wrote 142 volumes of history that covered events from the founding of Rome up to the reign of Augustus. Other important historians include Pliny the Elder, Sallust, Tacitus, and Quintus Fabius Pictor.

Roman Philosophy

After conquering the Greeks, the Romans became interested in philosophy. The most popular school of philosophy with the Romans was stoicism. Stoicism taught that the universe was very ordered and rational. It said that everyone, regardless of their wealth and position, should always try to do their best. These ideas appealed to the Romans. Famous Roman philosophers include Seneca, Cicero, and the Emperor Marcus Aurelius.

Roman Records

The Romans are famous for keeping lots of written records. It was how they kept their large empire so organized. They had records on every Roman citizen including things like age, marriages, and military service. They also kept written records of wills, legal trials, and all the laws and decrees made by the government.

Interesting Facts About the Literature of Ancient Rome
Activities For more about Ancient Rome:

Overview and History
Timeline of Ancient Rome
Early History of Rome
The Roman Republic
Republic to Empire
Wars and Battles
Roman Empire in England
Fall of Rome

Cities and Engineering
The City of Rome
City of Pompeii
The Colosseum
Roman Baths
Housing and Homes
Roman Engineering
Roman Numerals
Daily Life
Daily Life in Ancient Rome
Life in the City
Life in the Country
Food and Cooking
Family Life
Slaves and Peasants
Plebeians and Patricians

Arts and Religion
Ancient Roman Art
Roman Mythology
Romulus and Remus
The Arena and Entertainment
Julius Caesar
Constantine the Great
Gaius Marius
Spartacus the Gladiator
Emperors of the Roman Empire
Women of Rome

Legacy of Rome
The Roman Senate
Roman Law
Roman Army
Glossary and Terms

Works Cited

History >> Ancient Rome

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