Didactic Poems

Horace: The Art of Poetry

Adalbert_von_Rössler_HorazThe Art of Poetry (Latin: Ars Poetica) is a poem by Horace, originally included in the second volume of his Epistles, published in 14 BCE and sometimes known as the Epistle to the Pisos (Latin: Epistula ad Pisones).

It's reflections on poetry are personal and a touch satirical, contrasting with earlier extant literary criticism, such as that of Aristotle. It has nevertheless exercised a huge influence through its richness in maxims and pithy phrases, many of which are still in use as common literary terms.

The Art of Poetry at online book stores
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Free online texts
Bilingual texts
Loebulus: L194 - Horace - Satires. Epistles. Ars Poetica. Public domain Loeb edition. PDF format.
English translations
Gutenberg: The Satires, Epistles & Art of Poetry of Horace, translated by John Conington. EPUB, HTML, MOBI and TXT formats.
Gutenberg: The Art of Poetry, translated by George Colman. EPUB, HTML, MOBI and TXT formats.
Internet Archive
Perseus: The Art of Poetry, translated by C. Smart. HTML and XML formats.
Poetry in Translation: Ars Poetica, translated by A.S. Kline (2005). Multiple formats.
University of Adelaide (Internet Archive): The Works of Horace, translated into English Prose by C. Smart. EPUB, MOBI and HTML formats.
Wikisource: Ars Poetica. Multiple translations. HTML and other formats.
Latin texts
Gutenberg: The Works of Horace. EPUB, HTML, MOBI and TXT formats. 
Latin Library: Ars Poetica. HTML format.
Perseus: De Arte Poetica liber. HTML and XML formats.
Wikisource: Ars Poetica. HTML and other formats.

Other Resources
Librivox: The Ars Poetica and Carmen Saeculare, Dual Latin and English translations. Free public domain audiobook.
Literature and History: Episode 50 - Our Brutal Age. Episode 51 - Horace and Augustan Poetry. Podcast and transcript by Doug Metzger.
Wikipedia: Horace - Ars Poetica (Horace)

Further reading
Horace: Epistles - the larger work of which The Art of Poetry is part.
Homer: The Iliad - while Horace famously acknowledges that there moments when even Homer nods, he nevertheless regards him as the supreme poetic model.
Quintilian: Institutes of Oratory - the first source to treat The Art of Poetry as a separate work.
Latin resources: Learn to read Latin texts in the original.


Ovid: The Art of Love

Ovid_Book_II_deBosschereThe Art of Love (Latin: Ars Amatoria) is a Latin didactic poem by Ovid, written about 1 BCE. It's first two books offer advice on seduction for men, while the third is adressed to women.

The work is often supposed to have contributed to Augustus' decision to exile Ovid to the Black Sea in 8 CE.  It has nevertheless remained consistently popular ever since.

The Art of Love
at online book stores

Amazon | bookshop.org (US) | bookshop.org (UK)

Free online texts
Bilingual texts
Internet Archive: The Art of Love and Other Poems, translated by Henry John Mozley. Loeb edition. EPUB, MOBI, PDF and TXT formats.
English translations

Gutenberg: Ars Amatoria, or the Art of Love, translated by Henry T. Riley. EPUB, HTML, MOBI and TXT formats.
Poetry in Translation: The Art of Love, translated by A.S. Kline (2001). Multiple formats.
Sacred-texts.com: The Love Books of Ovid, translated by J. Lewis May. HTML format.
Wikisource: Ars Amatoria - The Art of Love, translated by J. Lewis May. HTML and other formats.
Latin texts
Latin Library: Ars Amatoria - Liber I - Liber II - Liber III. HTML format.
Wikisource: Ars Amatoria. HTML and other formats.

Continue reading "Ovid: The Art of Love" »


Lucretius: On the Nature of Things

Lucretius' On the Nature of Things (Latin: De Rerum Natura) is an epic poem dramatising an epicurean, materialist view of the world. As such, it is unique in Latin literature, as the later Roman reception of Greek philosophy was heavily influenced by Cicero's rejection of epicureanism.

Free online texts

Gutenberg: On the Nature of Things, translated by William Ellery Leonard. Multiple formats.

Internet Archive: De Rerum Natura Libri Sex. Latin Tuebner edition (1874). multiple formats.

Internet Classics Archive: On the Nature of Things, translated by William Ellery Leonard. html and txt files.

Perseus: De Rerum Natura - Latin text . English translation (Leonard, 1916). html texts.

University of Adelaide (Internet Archive): Of the Nature of Things, translated by William Ellery Leonard. EPUB, HTML and MOBI formats.

Wikisource: On the Nature of Things, translated by William Ellery Leonard (1916). html.

Audio Resources

BBC Radio 4 In Our Time: Epicureanism. Melvyn Bragg with Angie Hobbs, David Sedley and James Warren.

History of Philosophy without any gaps: Reaping the Harvest: Lucretius - podcast by philosopher Peter Adamson.

Literature and History: Episode 45 - The Uncuttables, Lucretius' On the Nature of Things and Epicurean Philosophy. Podcast and transcript by Doug Metzger.

Librivox: Lucretius - public domain audiobooks in English, Latin and French.

Other Resources

1911 Encyclopedia Britannica: Lucretius.

Gutenberg: Three Philosophical Poets - Lucretius, Dante and Goethe, by George Santayana. Multiple formats.

Internet Archive: Lucretius, by W.H. Mallock (1898).

Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Lucretius.

Leeds International Classical Studies, Volume 1. Peer-reviewed articles on Lucretius.

PhilPapers: Lucretius - bibliography with open access option.

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Lucretius, by David Sedley.

The Great Conversation: Further reading at Tom's Learning Notes

Latin resources: Learn to read Latin texts in the original.

Virgil: The Georgics.

Bloom's Western Canon: On the Nature of Things is listed.