In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Flavian Literature

  • Introduction
  • Bibliographies
  • General Overviews
  • Texts and Fragments
  • Commentaries and Translations
  • Thematic Studies
  • Intertextual Studies

Classics Flavian Literature
William J. Dominik
  • LAST REVIEWED: 27 June 2022
  • LAST MODIFIED: 27 June 2022
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195389661-0379


The Flavian age, though it lasted only twenty-seven years (69–96 CE), was of critical importance in the development of the Roman empire. The Flavian dynasty, which featured the emperors Vespasian (reigned 69–79 CE), Titus (79–81), and Domitian (81–96), followed in the path of the Julio-Claudian regime by fostering literary composition. The extant literature attests to the flourishing cultural, social, political, and economic environment of the Flavian era. Flavian literature includes not only Latin texts but also Greek. In fact, Greek writers, no less than their counterparts who wrote in Latin, are essential figures to consider when examining the full range of literary dynamics at play during the period. Some of the distinctive features and innovations of the Flavian age include the profoundly intertextual quality of its literature, which self-consciously interacts with both earlier traditions and contemporary works; Vespasian’s creation of salaried chairs of rhetoric, of which the first holder was Quintilian; Domitian’s creation of literary festivals, namely the quinquennial Capitolia at Rome and the annual Alban event, in which a poet such as Statius participated; the dispensation of patronage by the emperors and members of the senatorial and equestrian classes to Flavian writers, who in turn dedicated or addressed works to their patrons; and the fear of violence and civil war that pervades much of its literature. Scholars have published important work on how these Flavian writers communicated their ideas and related to their regimes, with much discussion occurring about the social and political stances they adopted and how they managed to navigate the sometimes murky waters of cultural and imperial politics. The result has been that modern critics are in disagreement about how to interpret passages by Flavian poets and prose writers who suggest meaning and express ideas in provocative and revealing ways both reminiscent of and different from their literary precursors. Both Latin and Greek writers of the Flavian era established themselves in a variety of genres with works that would exert a longstanding influence upon subsequent literature through the Middles Ages and Renaissance to the early modern period. Although for much of the 20th century scholars deemed the poetry and prose of the Flavian era to be secondary to the literature of the Augustan and (even) Julio-Claudian ages, partly because of Flavian writers’ adaptation and reconfiguration of literary conventions, diction, and motifs from these and earlier periods, critical appreciation and understanding of Flavian literature has increased dramatically in recent decades.


The citations provided in this Oxford Bibliographies article are devoted to the Roman and Greek writers and works of the Flavian age and are categorized mostly according to genre. This article is really as much a “metabibliography” (or secondary bibliography) as it is a bibliography in the sense that it not only cites specific publications (mainly scholarly monographs and edited collections of essays) but also refers readers to bibliographical sources in which other relevant publications not cited here may be found. Due to the limited number of citations permitted for this bibliography and in the interest of scholars being able to make the most of the bibliographical references provided, the focus is predominantly on published monographs and essay collections from 1956 to 2021 (and therefore generally excludes not only book chapters, journal articles, and full concordances but also most editions, translations, and commentaries). Most of the publications listed are in English, though some important scholarly studies in other languages are cited. The monographs and collections cited generally reflect the current state of debate on the Flavian writers, though some older publications are included to provide a sense of the history of the critical scholarship. The monographs and collections of essays listed in this bibliography not only provide background and discuss some key themes, but in most cases they contain useful bibliographies for the purposes of further reading and research. For more information on and bibliographies (including book chapters and journal articles) of the major Roman writers and Latin literary genres of the Flavian era, see the separate Oxford Bibliographies articles “Statius” (see also Anderson’s Via Stazio: Bibliography of Statian studies under Occasional Poetry—Latin); “Valerius Flaccus”; “Silius Italicus”; “Quintilian”; “Latin Rhetoric”, section “Quintilianus, Marcus Fabius (35–c. 95 CE)”; “Martial”; “Epigrams and Satire in Latin Poetry”, section “Latin Epigram and Martial” (see also Lorenz 2003 and Lorenz 2006 under Epigram—Latin); “Pliny the Elder”; “Land-Surveyors” (for coverage on Frontinus); “Latin Drama,” section “Octavia”; and “Latin Poetry: Imperial.” For information on and bibliographies of Greek writers and literary genres of the Flavian era, see the Oxford Bibliographies article on Flavius Josephus (Mason 2012, cited under under History—Greek); “Greek and Latin Biography”, the section “Plutarch, Lives”; and “Plutarch’s Moralia”. L’Année philologique and Gnomon Online contain citations in print and online of the authors and works of the Flavian era. Cavallo, et al. 1991 includes bibliographies of some of the Flavian writers and their works.

  • L’Année Philologique.

    L’Année Philologique is the standard bibliography for classical studies. First published as Jules Marouzeauand Juliette Ernst, eds., L’Année philologique: Bibliographie critique et analytique de l’antiquité gréco-latine (Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 1928–). The printed volumes run from 1924 to 2006, while the online database includes all the volumes of the annual index and earlier bibliographies published by Les Belles Lettres. Abstracts are furnished for articles and book reviews are included.

  • Cavallo, Guglielmo, Paolo Fedeli, and Andrea Giardina, eds. 1991. Lo spazio letterario di Roma antica. Vol. 5: Cronologia e bibliografia della letteratura latina. Rome: Salerno.

    Offers a chronology and bibliography of Latin literature, including some authors and works of the Flavian era, in addition to a series of indices.

  • Gnomon Online.

    The bibliographic database Gnomon Online (Gnomon Bibliographische Datenbank) complements L’Année Philologique by providing comprehensive coverage of the scholarship produced by scholars since the second half of the 20th century on the major Flavian writers and their works. This database incorporates the odd-numbered volumes of Gnomon: Kritische Zeitschrift für die gesamte klassische Altertumswissenschaft (Munich: C. H. Beck) published since 1950 that include a “Bibliographic Supplement” of monographs, collections of essays, articles, and dissertations.

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