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Tutorial Latin: Fake Poetry: The Appendix Vergiliana


Admission requirements

This class can be taken in fulfilment of the requirements of both the MA and the Research MA program in Classics and Ancient Civilizations (track Classics).
Admission requirements for other students: a BA degree in Classics obtained from a university in the Netherlands, or a comparable qualification obtained from a university outside the Netherlands. Moreover, students with an international degree have to contact the coordinator of studies to check admissibility.


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 also, 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? 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.

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 several of the smaller and substantial parts of the longer poems, touching on the various genres, with relevant secondary literature. At the end of the semester, there will be a written exam (50%). In addition, students will give a presentation (20%) and write a paper (30%) that addresses one of the poems and its (pseudo)Vergilian nature. All students are expected to be well-prepared and to participate in the discussion.

Course objectives

  • Broadening knowledge of Latin literature;

  • Enlarging reading and interpretative competence of Latin texts;

  • Reflection on 'pseudo-ness', 'parody', 'authorship', 'intertextuality' and 'career criticism';

  • Practising intertextuality and textual criticism;

  • Practising critical assessment of secondary literature;

  • Enhancing presentational skills;

  • Enhancing writing skills;

  • Enhancing research skills.


The timetable is available on the Classics and Ancient Civilizations website.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar

Course Load

Total course load 10 ec x 28 hours = 280 hours:

  • Class: 28 hours;

  • Weekly preparation (incl. reading Latin texts): 98 hours;

  • Reading prescribed primary literature (pensum): 60 hours;

  • Preparation of presentation: 31 hours;

  • Writing paper: 60 hours;

  • Written exam: 3 hours.

Assessment method

  • Written exam (50%) consisting of (a) two translations (seen) and grammatical questions (25%) and (b) other questions (25%);

  • Oral presentation (20%);

  • Written presentation: paper (ca. 3000, ReMA students ca. 4000 words) (30%).

Research MA-students are expected to write a more substantial paper and to show a more independent scholarly attitude (in formulating and working out the research question, quantity/complexity of secondary literature).


The final mark for the course is established by determining the weighted average of the examinations mentioned above. A sufficient score for the translations and grammatical questions is a condicio sine qua non.


If the overall mark is unsatisfactory, the student can revise his/her paper and/or retake the written examination (after consultation with the teacher). There is no resit for the oral presentation.

Exam review

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.


Blackboard will be used for announcements, secondary literature, etc.

Reading list

Students are expected to have (physically!) the recent Loeb edition:

  • H. R. Fairclough (ed.) Virgil: Aeneid VII-XII, Appendix Vergiliana, revised by G. P. Goold (Cambridge, MA 2000).

Students are advised to purchase:

  • N. Holzberg (ed.) Die Appendix Vergiliana: Pseudepigraphen im literarischen Kontext. Classica Monacensia 30 (Tübingen, 2005).


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about registration in uSis is available in English and Dutch.

Exchange and Study Abroad students: please see the Study Abroad/Exchange website for information on how to register.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Registration Contractonderwijs.


Dr. J. (Jörn) Soerink


Students who wish to cover some ground before the start of the semester, are advised to read the Culex, which will be part of the Latin pensum (in its entirety).