LAT20180 Cicero's Political Oratory

Academic Year 2023/2024

On this module students will read selections from a prescribed speech of Cicero on a political topic. The level of Latin is moderately advanced, suitable for students in their second year of studying Latin at university, or who have a Leaving Certificate qualification in Latin; in addition, Cicero’s speeches shed light on politics and government in late Republican Rome, as well as on personal relationships between leading figures of the period, such as Cicero, Marcus Licinius Crassus, Gaius Julius Caesar, and Marcus Porcius Cato. Although the emphasis of the module is on reading and translating original Latin, students will also learn about the principles and practice of oratory, and the eventful period of the 60s and 50s BC in Roman republican politics.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On successful completion of this module students will be able to:

- Translate the set text
- Recognise the main structural features of forensic oratory, and the main features of Cicero’s oratorical style
- Demonstrate understanding of Cicero’s arguments, and be able to evaluate their strengths and weaknesses
- Demonstrate a basic understanding of Roman Republican politics, and the key issues faced by Roman aristocratic elites during this period

Indicative Module Content:

This module is language intensive, focused on Latin-to-English translation of unadapted passages of Cicero. The assigned text for 2023-24 is C.Macdonald’s Bristol Classical Press edition of Cicero's Pro Murena. Students should expect to read about 400 lines of Latin both in and out of class.

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours
Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning






Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
Students will prepare for each class by reading assigned passages of text and identifying issues of linguistic and syntactical difficulty. In class, students will read and translate the text together and resolve whatever points of difficulty have arisen. Classes will focus on translating Latin into accurate and idiomatic English; identifying key features of Roman oratory and Cicero’s style; and discussing how the text sheds light on Roman electoral politics and the flawed workings of the Late Republic. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade In Module Component Repeat Offered
Essay: 2000 word essay. Students taking the module as part of a research degree programme may be offered an alternative to this assignment by agreement with the module co-ordinator. Coursework (End of Trimester) n/a Standard conversion grade scale 40% No


Class Test: Translation and commentary test Week 12 n/a Standard conversion grade scale 40% No


Class Test: Translation and commentary test Week 6 n/a Standard conversion grade scale 40% No



Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Autumn No
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment
• Group/class feedback, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Students will receive individual written feedback on class tests (translation and gobbet passages) and essay, and key points may also be reviewed in class. Students are welcome to arrange a meeting with the module coordinator to discuss their grade and feedback.