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Seminar Latin: Pseudo-Vergilian Poetry: the Appendix Vergiliana


Admission requirements

Not applicable.


Vergil wrote three things: the Eclogues, the Georgics and the Aeneid. Or did he? The Neronian poet Lucan attributes the mock-epic poem Culex to Vergil, as do Statius and Martial a few decades later. And their contemporary Quintilian cites another poem (Catalepton 2) as an authentic Vergilian creation. Not to mention Donatus (4th century), who in his Vita Vergiliana mentions many more titles.

These poems, transmitted under Vergil's name, are collected in the so-called (J.J. Scaliger) Appendix Vergiliana: an heterogeneous and fascinating collection, including inter alia epyllia (Culex and Ciris), elegies (Elegiae in Maecenatem), epigrams (Catalepton), a didactic poem (Aetna), three carmina Priapea, and even a poetic pesto recipe (Moretum). Unfortunately, most of these texts have been transmitted in a poor condition, so that students of the Appendix Vergiliana are bound to engage with textual criticism.

Did Vergil really write these poems? If not, who did? Have they been erroneously attributed to Vergil by scribes or scholars? And if so, why? Or should we read them as parodies? Or as falsifications, intended to deceive readers? Or as "supplements" to complete Vergil's poetic career? Do pseudepigrapha constitute a literary "genre"? Should we perhaps reconsider the very concept of "authorship"? Are there parallels with literary pseudonymity in our times? These and related questions, which have received much scholarly attention in recent years, will be explored. We will also pay attention to the much debated “Helen-episode” and the “pro-proem” of the Aeneid, which may also be called pseudo-Vergilian.

In connection with their "pseudo-ness", we will examine the poems' relations with Vergil's Eclogues, Georgics and Aeneid. The Culex, for instance, reworks (or anticipates?) Aeneid 6, Catalepton 10 seems to be a parody of Catullus, and the Ciris responds to Ovid's treatment of the same myth in Metamorphoses 8 (or vice versa?). Intertextuality will thus be one of our major concerns.

In the course of the semester, we will read and discuss all the smaller poems and substantial parts of the longer poems, touching on the various genres, with relevant secondary literature. Students will give a presentation (20%) and write a paper (50%) that addresses one of the poems and its (pseudo)Vergilian nature. All students are expected and required to be present and well-prepared, and to participate in the discussion (30%).

Course objectives

  • Broadening knowledge of Latin literature, esp. Vergil’s oeuvre and its ancient receptions;

  • Enlarging reading and interpretative competence of Latin texts;

  • Reflection on concepts from literary theory, such as 'pseudo-ness', 'parody', 'authorship', 'intertextuality' and 'career criticism';

  • Practising intertextuality and textual criticism;

  • Practising critical assessment of secondary literature;

  • Enhancing presentation skills;

  • Enhancing writing skills;

  • Enhancing research skills.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction


Assessment method


  • Preparation and participation

  • Oral presentation

  • Paper (4000 words, ReMA students 5000 words, incl. notes, excl. bibliography)

Attendance is mandatory.


  • Preparation and participation: 30%

  • Oral presentation: 20%

  • Paper: 50%


If the overall mark is unsatisfactory, either the written exam or the paper can be repeated after consultation with the teacher. The marks for the oral presentation and the response will still count in such a case.

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list

Students are expected to bring a critical edition of the Appendix Vergiliana, preferaby Salvatore et alii (1997), and an English translation, preferably the revised Loeb edition (Goold 2000). Secondary literature will be made available through Brightspace.

  • Salvatore, A. De Vivo, L. Nicastri, and G. Polara (eds.) (1997) Appendix Vergiliana. Scriptores Graeci et Latini (Istituto Poligrafico e Zecca dello Stato, Roma).

  • G. P. Goold (ed.) (2000) Virgil. Vol. 2, Aeneid, Books 7–12: Appendix Vergiliana. Revised edition. English translation by H. Rushton Fairclough. Loeb Classical Library 64 (Harvard University Press, Cambridge MA).

  • W.V. Clausen, F.R.D. Goodyear, E.J. Kenney and J.A. Richmond (eds.) (1966) Appendix Vergiliana Scriptorum Classicorum Bibliotheca Oxoniensis (Clarendon, Oxford).


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Attendance is mandatory.