Denis Feeney

Denis Feeney is a professor of classics and Latin at Princeton.

Between Troy and Rome: Trojan Glamour

Denis Feeney, 15 June 2017

Virgil’s​ Aeneid became the canonical myth of Rome’s origins as soon as it was published, following the poet’s death, in 19 BCE. When Troy fell to the Greeks, the story goes, Aeneas, the son of Venus and Anchises, survived and escaped from the burning city with his father and young son Ascanius (also called Iulus). After years of wandering, the Trojans reached Italy...

Caesar’s body shook: Cicero

Denis Feeney, 22 September 2011

In June 1345, in the Chapter Library at Verona, Petrarch discovered a manuscript containing the letters written by Cicero to his friend Atticus (‘Ad Atticum’), his brother Quintus (‘Ad Quintum Fratrem’) and Caesar’s assassin, Marcus Brutus (‘Ad M. Brutum’). Lost for centuries, the letters enraptured Petrarch, providing him with a moment of first...

Mr Big & Co: Roman Victory!

Denis Feeney, 21 February 2008

The triumph is a key element of the modern image of the Romans, embodying the characteristics we love to imagine as quintessentially Roman: militarism, arrogance, cruelty, spectacle. Because the triumph is central to the way we think of Roman culture, the BBC/HBO television series Rome showed not one but two: that of Julius Caesar over Vercingetorix the Gaul in Season 1, and that of his...

Simile World: Virgil’s Progress

Denis Feeney, 4 January 2007

Within a generation of Virgil’s death in 19 BC the trajectory of his poetic career had become iconic, with its apparently teleological progression from the slim one-volume collection of ten Eclogues to the more ambitious four-volume Georgics and finally to the 12 volumes of his imperial epic, the Aeneid. The progression could be seen as a poetic instantiation of rhetorical...

I shall be read: Ovid’s Revenge

Denis Feeney, 17 August 2006

In the year 8 AD, at the age of 50, Publius Ovidius Naso stood at the height of poetic ambition. Fêted and continuously successful for almost thirty years, Ovid had been without a rival since the death of Horace 15 years before. Surrounded by second-raters and nonentities, he was unquestionably the most famous poet in the empire. Rome was his oyster, and his poetry took the metropolis as...

Letter

Editorial Lapse

21 February 2008

A crucial adverb was dropped from a sentence in my review of Mary Beard’s The Roman Triumph (LRB, 21 February). ‘No Latin literary texts survive intact before Plautus,’ I remarked, but the word ‘regularly’ disappeared from the next part of the sentence: ‘so his comedies are regularly as far back in time as we can go in excavating Roman customs and attitudes.’...

The beginning​ of Latin literature was a datable event. At one moment it didn’t exist, and then after the production of a play in Latin by a man called Livius, it did. That at least is...

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How old is Rome? Sporadic pottery fragments from the Bronze Age have long been known about, but have only recently been found in a stratified context, in excavations on the Capitoline Hill. It is...

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