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Chapter 1 - Introduction

Texts, Tools, Territories

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  04 January 2024

Roy Gibson
Affiliation:
University of Durham
Christopher Whitton
Affiliation:
University of Cambridge
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Summary

This volume reflects on modes of scholarship in Latin literature: what texts do we read? How do we read them? And why? The introductory chapter first surveys the tools of the trade in the twenty-first century, then asks how ‘classical Latin’ is defined. We reflect on the exclusion of Christian Latin texts from the Oxford Latin Dictionary, try to quantify the corpus of surviving classical Latin, and uncover striking continuities between the canon of authors prescribed by Quintilian and modern teaching and research in classical Latin; commensurately, we draw attention to the neglect suffered by most surviving classical Latin authors and still more by the pagan and Christian texts of late antiquity. In the process we set an agenda for the volume as a whole, of ‘decentring’ classical Latin, and offer some first points of orientation in the late antique, mediaeval and early modern eras. Third, we look afresh at relations between Latin and fellow sub-disciplines in Classics and beyond. How much do we have in common, and what problems stand in the way of more successful communication? We close with some reflections on ‘close reading’ and on the possibility of evolving ‘distant reading’.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2024

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