cod. 1008124

Academic year 2022/23
1° year of course - Second semester
Professor responsible for the course unit
ROTA Gualtiero
integrated course unit
12 credits
hub: PARMA
course unit

Course unit structured in the following modules:

Learning objectives

Knowledge and understanding
Students will develop advanced knowledge and understanding about the tradition and survival of classical texts and about paleography both by reading related texts and thanks to the use of different sources (manuals, books and scientific articles, lectures etc.).

Applying knowledge and understanding
Students will be able to apply knowledge and comprehension skills within multidisciplinary context, showing a good competence in placing classical authors in their historical and cultural context, also in a research context, and by recognizing, reading and describing the various kinds of writing of Latin manuscripts, from the origins to 15th century. Comprehension and problem solving skills will be reinforced and applied to new or unfamiliar topics, belonging to wider or interdisciplinary contexts related to their field of study.

Making judgments: Students will be able to collect and interpret data to determine autonomous judgements on the survival of classical tradition and on paleography also by oral referees on proposed themes, including cross-cultural and interdisciplinary thinking on cultural and intercultural, scientific and ethical topics connected to the judgements expressed. Students will be able to integrate their knowledge, manage complexity and make judgements based on limited or incomplete data.

Communication skills
Thanks to the specific focus on communication competences about classical tradition and paleography, students will be able to convey , with clear and proper language, information, ideas, problems and solutions to specialists and non-specialists. Students can make conclusions clearly and through the support of their knowledge. They will also be able to explain the reasons for their conclusions.

Learning skills
Thanks to the general scaffolding of the course which puts processes related to acquiring a critical and historical attitude at the centre, students will develop learning skills useful to continue studying autonomously and in a self-directed way in lifelong learning education or to begin with critical attitude a working activity



Course unit content

Unit 1
History of Classical Tradition.

- The first part of the course will focus on the introduction to History of Classical tradition, institutions and critical methodology, with particular reference to intertextuality and hypertextuality.

- The second part of the course will focus on the relationship between epistolography and text tradition.

Unit 2

Historical “excursus” about the Latin writings of manuscripts from the ancient times to invention of printing. References to codicology and diplomatics. Reading and analysis of various writing with the help of traditional facsimiles and of digital reproductions of manuscripts now available on-line.

Full programme

Unit 1 - History of text tradition

Full program will be scaled according to the linguistic skills (knowledge of Latin/Greek languages) of the students: please contact

Unit 2 - Paleography

Introduction to paleography. Technical terminology. References to codicology. Origin and development of the Latin writing: the earliest examples. Writing and manuscripts in the 1st-8th centuries: capitals; uncial; half-uncial; minuscules. Scribal abbreviations’ system. Writing and manuscripts in the 8th-13th centuries: “pre-Caroline”; Beneventan; Visigothic; Merovingian; Caroline. The writing and the manuscripts in the 13th-14th centuries: Gothic. Writing and manuscripts in the 15th century: humanistic. References to diplomatics.

To hold up the exam without attending lessons please contact the teacher: phone number +39.0521.90 6693; e-mail:


Unit 1
History of Classical Tradition.
1) S. Tatti, Classico: storia di una parola, Roma 2015;
2) Selection of papers (assigned during class).

Non-attending students must get in contact the the teacher for information on bibliography

Unit 2
1. Manual
Giulio BATTELLI, “Lezioni di paleografia”, 4th ed., Città del Vaticano, Libreria editrice Vaticana, 1999, and following reprints (at head of title page: Scuola Vaticana di Paleografia, Diplomatica e Archivistica), ISBN 978-88-209-2689-2.

In addition:
- Frank T. Coulson, "Punctuation", in "The Oxford handbook of Latin palaeography", edited by Frank T. Coulson and Robert G. Babcock, Oxford, Oxford University press, 2020, ISBN 9780195336948, pp. 5-8.
- Frank T. Coulson, "The citing of manuscript shelfmarks: a modest proposal", in "The classical World" 82, 1988, pp. 31-34.

2. Further readings (at least one book among the following)

Armando PETRUCCI, “Prima lezione di paleografia”, Roma-Bari, GLF editori Laterza, 2002, and following reprints (Universale Laterza, 811; Prime lezioni).


Giorgio COSTAMAGNA, “Perché scriviamo così. [Invito alla paleografia latina]”, Roma, Il centro di ricerca, 1987 (Fonti e studi del Corpus membranarum Italicarum. 1a ser., Studi e ricerche, 26). Disponibile in linea al seg. indirizzo:


A. C. DE LA MARE, "A Palaeographer’s Odyssey", in "Sight & insight. Essays on art and culture in honour of E. H. Gombrich at 85", edited by John Onians, London, Phaidon, 1994, ISBN 0714829714, pp. 88–107.

3. Materials distributed during the course.

4. A list of supplementary and optional (but not compulsory) readings will be supplied during the course.

Teaching methods

Unit 1
History of Classical tradition.

The course consists of classroom lectures supplemented by weekly tutorials (live lectures to be recorded and uploaded on Elly).
Through classroom lectures students will be guided to a first methodological approach for the study of different text according to the specific features of literary genres and authors.
Classroom lectures will be supplemented by practice sessions and tutorials to support students in gaining the resources and skills needed to properly read and translate texts. Tutorial activities will be scaled up and down according to students’ abilities and needs.

Unit 2

The didactic activities will be conducted in the Socratic heuristic mode. Dialogic dialogue with the classroom will be privileged, also in order to bring out any foreknowledge on the topics in question by the students.

The slides used to support the lessons will be uploaded on a weekly basis on the Elly platform. To download the slides, the students need to register for the online course. The slides are considered an integral part of the teaching material. The Teacher reminds not attending students to check the teaching material available and the information provided by him on the Elly platform.

Assessment methods and criteria

Unit 1 - History of text tradition

Students will be assessed by an oral comprehensive examination based on the readings and other material used in the course and that will be administered at the end of the term.

The assessment aims to test:
1) proper knowledge and critical understanding of the history of classical tradition;
2) general understanding of the main cultural and literary developments of test tradition and of the readings and other material used during class;
3) ability to critically read and interpret ancient texts, and to make personal judgements on ancient works and on their social and cultural background;
4) ability to properly produce cross-sectional studies on different historical and literary topics.

Students will be assessed on:
written and oral proficiency; correct use of language; personal reinterpretation of contents; ability to make inter-disciplinary connections; proper use of specialist language; ability to give proper answers to given questions.

Students will have to score a minimum of 60 percent or better to get a pass grade.

Unit 2 - Paleography
The final examination is oral and aims to test the knowledge of Latin writing’s history and the ability to recognize, read and describe the various kinds of Latin manuscripts’ writing, from the origins to 15th century.
The examination consists in one or more questions about Latin writing’s history and in reading and analysis of one or more facsimiles chosen by the teacher.
Evaluation criteria: oral proficiency; correct use of language and of specialistic lexicon; ability to elaborate the contents; ability to produce interdisciplinary links; ability to give proper answers to given questions.
Students will have to answer correctly and in observance of the above criteria to 60 percent or better of the questions to get a pass grade. The evaluation is on 30-point scale.

For further details about the course please contact the teacher: phone number +39.0521.90 6693; e-mail:

Other information