Timeline of Latin Literature

1000s BCE Italic tribe called the Latini settled Latium, the region surrounding Rome and toward its south.
753 Traditional date of the founding of Rome by Romulus and his twin, Remus.
509 Traditional date of the overthrow of Tarquinius Superbus, the last king of Rome, and the establishment of the Roman Republic.
390 or 387/386 The Senones under Brennus defeat the Romans and sack Rome.
340–338 Rome defeats Latin neighbors and has hegemony over all of Latium.
280–272 Pyrrhic War; Rome becomes a powerful Mediterranean leader
272 Tarentum, the last holdout against Rome in the Pyrrhic War, surrenders; Livius Andronicus likely is taken to Rome as a captive.
c. 270 Gnaeus Naevius is born.
264–241 First Punic War; Naevius, who fought in the war, later commemorated it with his Bellum Punicum, the first Latin epic of which we know after Andronicus’ translation of the Odyssey.
240 Andronicus debuts his first play, the era of Roman literature begins.
239 Ennius is born in Rudiae.
235 Naevius debuts his first comedy.
234 Cato is born at Tusculum.
229–228 First Illyrian War.
222 Claudius Marcellus defeats the Gauls at Clastidium, which is commemorated by Naevius’ later Clastidium.
220–218 Second Illyrian War; L. Aemilius Paullus, father of Macedonicus and father-in-law of Scipio Africanus, defeats Demetrius, who flees to Philip V of Macedon.
220 Pacuvius is born at Brundisium.
218–201 Second Punic War.
217 Battle of Lake Trasimene, a victory by Hannibal’s forces so deadly (about 15,000 Romans were killed), that Fabius Maximus was anointed dictator to deal with the threat.
216 Hannibal defeats Roman troops at the Battle of Cannae, in which over 85,000 Roman and allied troops were killed; nearly one fifth of the male Roman citizenry at this point has been wiped out by the war.
215 Philip V of Macedon allies with Carthage and formally enters war against Rome.
212 M. Claudius Marcellus sacks Syracuse, bringing in a new influx of Greek art into Rome; Plautus debuts his Asinaria.
209 Q. Fabius Maximus sacks Tarentum; Accius thinks Livius Andronicus is sent to Rome this year.
207 Livius Andronicus pens a partheneion to Juno for M. Livius Salinator.
206 The Metelli have Naevius imprisoned for slander.
c. 205 Plautus’ Miles Gloriosus debuts.
204 Cato meets Ennius and introduces him at Rome.
202 Battle of Zama, in which the Carthaginians were at last defeated by the Romans.
200 Plautus’ Stichus debuts.
197 Flamininus defeats Philip V at Cynoscephalae, leaving a permanent Roman presence in Greece.
195 Cato is consul; possible date of Terence’s birth.
192–189 Syrian War.
191 Plautus’ Pseudolus debuts.
189 Fulvius Nobilior captures the Greek colony Ambracia; Ennius composes the Ambracia in honor of the victory; Plautus’ Bacchides debuts.
188 Rome and Antiochus III sign the Treaty of Apamea, which forced the Seleucid Empire out of Europe, while Rome enlarged the territorial holdings for Pergamum and Rhodes.
186 The Senate passes the Senatus Consultum de Bacchanalibus banning the Bacchanalia from Italy and persecuting devotees of Bacchus.
185 Plautus’ Casina debuts.
184 Death of Plautus; Cato is elected censor, strongly champions traditionalist values.
183 Deaths of Scipio Africanus and Hannibal.
182 Cato delivers the Pro Lege Orchia, arguing in favor of restricting excessive displays of wealth.
180 Death of L. Valerius Flaccus.
179 Death of Philip V of Macedon.
173 The Senate expels Greek philosophers from Rome.
172 Ennius publishes the first nine books of his Annales.
171–168 Third Macedonian War.
c. 170 Accius is born in Pisaurum.
169 Ennius’ last play, the Thyestes, debuts, and he dies this year; Cato speaks in favor of the Lex Voconia, which limits the right for women to inherit property.
168 Traditional date of the death of Caecilius Statius; L. Aemilius Paullus defeats Perseus of Macedon at Pydna, which was celebrated by Pacuvius’ Paullus.
167 Roman victory over Macedon; Cato delivers his Pro Rhodiensibus, defending Rhodes from relation by Rome for its neutral stance during the war.
166 Terence’s Andria debuts at the Megalesian games.
165 Terence’s Hecyra debuts.
164 Rhodes and Rome sign an alliance pact; L. Aemilius Paullus Macedonicus is elected censor.
163 Terence’s Heauton Timorumenos debuts.
161 Terence’s Eunuchus and Phormio debut.
160 Deaths of Macedonicus and C. Laelius; Terence’s Adelphoe debuts at Macedonicus’ funeral; Lucilius is born around this year.
159 Death of Terence.
157 Cato returns from arbitration between Carthage and Numidia and declares the renewed threat of Carthage.
156–155 First Dalmatian War.
152 This is the last year treated in Cato’s Origines.
149 Death of Cato; Third Punic War begins.
146 Carthage is conquered and destroyed (though the salting of the land is a myth); L. Mummius defeats the Achaean League and sacks and destroys Corinth, making Greece a province of Rome.
135 First Servile War begins, after two years of a slave rebellion in Sicily.
133 Scipio Aemilianus captures Numantia; Ti. Gracchus is assassinated for attempting to pass a land redistribution bill; Pergamum is bequeathed to Rome upon the death of Attalus III.
c. 130 Death of Pacuvius; Lucilius is publishing his Satirae.
129 Scipio Aemilianus is assassinated.
123 C. Gracchus is elected tribunus plebis for the first time; Q. Caecilius Metellus conquers the Balearic Islands, and is thus given the cognomen Balearicus.
121 L. Opimius, the consul, and C. Gracchus, still tribune, battle in Rome, resulting in the defeat and death of Gracchus and many of his allies; Transalphine Gaul becomes a province of Rome.
119–118 Second Dalmatian War; L. Caecilius Metellus is given the cognomen Delmaticus.
116 Varro is born in Reate.
115 Death of Metellus Macedonicus.
112–105 Jugurtha, king of Numidia, declares war against Rome.
c. 110 Possible early birth date of Cornelius Nepos.
108 Battle of Muthul, in which Q. Caecilius Metellus Numidicus and his legate C. Marius defeat Jugurtha’s troops.
107 C. Marius is elected consul, bringing in reforms to the military; he and his legate L. Cornelius Sulla invade Numidia.
106 Birth of M. Tullius Cicero.
105 Battle of Arausio, where the Germanic Cimbri defeat and annihilate two Roman armies, the worst devastation to the Roman military since Hannibal; Sulla and Marius capture Jugurtha and end the Numidian War.
104–100 Second Servile War
104 Marius is elected console a second time and celebrates his triumph over Jugurtha.
103–102 Marius is elected console twice more in contravention of Roman legal norms. He will be elected three more times before he dies.
102 Julius Caesar possibly born this year.
101 Marius defeats the Germanic Cimbri at the Battle of Campi Raudii.
100 Second possible year of the birth of Julius Caesar; birth of Quintus Tullius Cicero and around this time Lucretius, too.
98 Rome outlaws human sacrifice.
92 School of the rhetorician Plotius Gallus is closed; his teachings are reflected in the Rhetorica ad Herennium; Lucullus invades Armenia and thus declares war on Persia.
91–88 The Social War, in which the Italians attempted to shake free from the hegemony of Rome.
90 Around this year Aulus Hirtius is born.
89–85 First Mithridatic War.
89 Rome allows all Italians to apply to Roman citizenship.
88 80,000 Romans and Italians in Asia are massacred by Mithridates, king of Pontus.
87 Many conservative and noble Romans allied with Sulla proscribed by Marius and his faction; Cinna is elected the first of four times, following the footsteps of Marius.
86 Sallust is born; Marius dies of natural causes; Romans defeat Pontic forces at Athens, Tenedos, and Chaeronea.
84 Catullus is born around this year; Cinna is killed in a mutiny.
83–81 Second Mithridatic War.
83 Sulla lands in Italy and defeats Roman troops; Pompey (later called Magnus ‘the Great,’ allies with Sulla and brings along his father’s veterans; the Sibylline Books are destroyed in a fire.
82 Sulla regains control of Rome; Pompey earns the nickname adulescentulus carnifex ‘kid butcher’ for his merciless massacring of enemies.
81 Sulla is appointed dictator; Cicero begins his legal career with the Pro Quinctio.
80 Cicero defends Sex. Roscius from charges of parricide; ends up implicating Chrysogonus, a freedman of Sulla, in illegal activities; Sertorius and the last of the Marian faction retreat to Spain.
79 Sulla gives up his dictatorship and, after reforming the legal code to his liking, returns power to the Senate.
78 Death of Sulla and posthumous publication of his Commentarii; many of his reforms are undone by successors.
77–76 Third Dalmatian War
75 Philodemus comes to Rome and opens up a school at Herculaneum; Cicero is elected quaestor and serves in Sicily; Julius Caesar kidnapped by pirates, is ransomed, and later returns to hunt them down and crucify them.
73–71 Third Servile War: Spartacus and rebelling gladiators and other slaves defeat Romans for years until Marcus Licinius Crassus finally crushes them and has them all crucified.
73–63 Third Mithridatic War: Spartacus and rebelling gladiators and other slaves defeat Romans for years until Marcus Licinius Crassus finally crushes them and has them all crucified.
72 Sertorius is assassinated, and the last remnants of the Marian faction are wiped out.
71 Pirates, allied with Crete, defeat Roman forces sent to wipe them out.
70 Births of Vergil and Maecenas; Cicero delivers his In Verrem, in which he accused Gaius Verres of plundering Siciliy while governor.
69 Birth of Gallus; Caesar is quaestor in Spain.
68 Pirates sack and raze Ostia, Rome’s primary port city; earliest dated correspondence between Cicero and Atticus.
67 Rome authorizes Pompey to take command of a large fleet and wipe out the Mediterranean pirates; Pompey takes command of the war against Mithridates as well.
66 Romans pass the Lex Manilia, granting Pompey the right to take complete control in fighting Mithridates; the law was supported by Cicero in his De Imperio Pompei; first accusation against Catiline to conspire in overthrowing the Senate.
65 Birth of Horace; all foreigners are expelled from Rome.
63 Pompey captures Jerusalem and annexes Judaea; Julius Caesar is elected Pontifex Maximus and Cicero is elected consul; Catiline is again accused of conspiracy, and some of followers were extra-judiciously executed by Cicero; Cicero delivers the Pro Lege Agraria, Pro Rabirio, Pro Murena, and In Catilinam orations, the latter of which were a vicious assault on Catiline and his conspiracy.
62 Catilinarian forces are defeated; Cicero delivers his Pro Archia Poeta.
61 Pompey celebrates a triumph for his victories, his third one to date; Caesar is governor of Hispania.
60 Caesar conquers Lusitania; he, Pompey, and Crassus form the First Triumvirate (Cicero was considered but turned down the offer).
59 Livy is born around this year; Caesar is consul, institutes the first newspaper Acta Diurna.
58 Clodius has Cicero exiled for the extra-judicial killings.
58–52 Julius Caesar conquers Gaul.
57 Cicero is recalled from exile; argues for a restitution of his property in his De Domo Sua; Catullus is in Bythinia under Gaius Memmius.
56 Cicero delivers his Pro Caelio, defending his client Marcus Caelius Rufus from the charges of attempted poisoning his ex-lover Clodia, the same woman with whom Catullus also had a love-hate relationship; in the speech, he charges Clodia with prostitution and incest with her brother Clodius.
55 Tibullus is born, Lucretius dies, and his De Rerum Natura is published around this year.
54 Seneca the Elder is born and Catullus dies around this year; Pompey’s wife and Caesar’s daughter Julia dies in childbirth, leading to the disintegration of the triumvirate; Caesar’s De Analogia is published.
53 Crassus is defeated and killed in battle by the Parthians at Carrhae.
52 Cicero delivers the Pro Milone, unsuccessfully defending Milo from the charges of murdering Clodius earlier in the year.
51 Cicero’s De Re Publica and De Legibus and Caesar’s De Bello Gallico are published.
50 Propertius is born around this year; Senate demands Caesar to disband his armies before returning to Rome.
49–45 First Civil War.
49 Caesar crosses the Rubicon, thus beginning the Civil War between him and the Senate; he captures Massilia and by October is declared dictator of Rome.
48 After an initial retreat, Caesar defeats Pompey’s troops at Pharsalus; Pompey is assassinated by Egyptians, which leads Caesar to capture Alexandria and restore Cleopatra VII to the throne.
47 Death of Licinius Calvus; Varro’s Antiquitates Rerum Divinarum and Atticus’ Liber Annalis are published.
46 Cicero’s philosophical period begins; publishes Paradoxa Stoicorum, Brutus, and Orator; Caesar’s De Bello Civili is published; Caesar orders Varro to create a library.
45 Caesar defeats the last of the Pompeian forces at the Battle of Munda; death of Cicero’s daughter Tullia; Cicero’s Academica, De Finibus, Tusculanae Disputationes, and De Natura Deorum are all published.
44 Assassination of Julius Caesar; Octavian is named his heir; Cicero delivers his Philippics condemning Antony, and his De Divinatione, De Fato, De Senectute, De Amicitia, and De Officiis are all published this year.
43 Birth of Ovid; Octavian, Antony, and Lepidus form the Second Triumvirate after the battle of Mutina, in which Aulus Hirtius perished; together they institute a new round of proscriptions; among the dead is Cicero; though also proscribed, Varro survives and his De Gente Populi Romani is published.
42 Antony defeats Brutus and Cassius, the last Senatorial faction, at Philippi; Sallust’s Bellum Catilinae is published around this year.
41 Lucius Antony—Mark Antony’s brother—and Fulvia—Mark Antony’s wife—are defeated by Octavian at the Battle of Perusia.
40 Antony marries Octavia, sister of Octavian, in order to restore peace, followed by the Treaty of Brundisium, which divided the empire into east and west ruled by Antony and Octavian respectively;  Sallust’s Bellum Iugurthinum is published around this year.
39 Sextus Pompey is in control of Corsica, Sardinia, and Sicily; Vergil’s Eclogues and Varro’s Imagines are published.
37 Varro’s Res Rusticae are published.
36 Octavian and Lepidus defeat Sextus Pompey in Sicily, who then sails to Asia Minor; afterward, Lepidus is removed from the triumvirate on the pretext of fomenting rebellion.
35 Cornelius Nepos’ De Viris Inlustribus and Horace’s Satires I are published around this year.
33 Varro’s Disciplinarum Libri are published; Mark Antony conquers Media.
32 Antony divorces Octavia and marries Cleopatra, beginning the Second Civil War.
31 Antony is defeated at Actium; Octavian is sole ruler.
30 Octavian captures Egypt; Cleopatra commits suicide while her son by Caesar, Ptolemy Caesarion, is put to death; Gallus is made governor; Horace’s Satires II and Epodes are published.
29 Octavian is given three triumphs and closes the doors of the Temple of Janus, signifying peace; Vergil’s Georgics and the first five books of Livy’s Ab Urbe Condita are published.
28 Propertius’ Monobiblos is published.
27 Octavian is given the title of Princeps and Augustus, turning his status as sole ruler into law and marking the official shift from the Republic ruled by law and the people to the Principate ruled by one man; death of Varro.
26 Augustus forces Gallus to commit suicide; Tibullus’ book of Elegies is published.
25 Celsus is born around this year; Livy revises the first five books of his Ab Urbe Condita.
23 Horace’s Odes I-III are published; Vitruvius’ De Architectura possibly published this year.
22 Propertius’ Elegies II-III are published.
21 Peace with Parthia sees the return of the standards captured at Carrhae; Ovid’s Amores are published.
20 Phaedrus is born around this year; Marcus Verrius Flaccus’ De Verborum Significatu and Horace Epistulae I are published.
19 Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa completes the Aqua Virgo aqueduct; death of Vergil, leaving the Aeneid unfinished.
18 Augustus passes the first set of Julian Laws on morality.
17 Horace composes the Carmen Saeculare to inaugurate the Secular Games; Velleius Paterculus is born around this year.
16 Propertius’ Elegies IV are published.
16 BCE – 16 CE Germano-Roman Wars.
15 Ovid’s Heroides published.
13 Horace’s Odes IV and Epistles II are published around this year.
12–8 During this time, Ovid likely composed and published his lost play Medea.
8 BCE Deaths of Horace and Maecenas.
1 BCE Seneca the Younger born around this year; first two books of Ovid’s Ars Amatoria published.
1 CE Tiberius, Augustus’ future successor, is in Germania quelling revolts; Ovid revises his Amores, and last book of his Ars Amatoria and his Remedia Amoris are published; Petronius is born around this year;
2–8 Ovid’s Metamorphoses written and published during these years.
6  Publius Sulpicius Quirinius, governor of Judaea, conducts a census of the area.
8 Ovid is exiled to Tomis on the Black Sea; his Tristia I and the first (and only) half of his Fasti are published.
9 Three legions under Publius Quinctilius Varus are ambushed and annihilated by Germanic tribes under Arminius; Ovid’s Tristia II and Pompeius Trogus’ Historiae Philippicae are published.
12  Ovid’s Ibis published.
13 Ovid’s Epistulae Ex Ponto I-III published.
14 Death and deification of Augustus; his Res Gestae are inscribed on stone all across the empire; Tiberius succeeds him.
14–37 Reign of Tiberius.
16 Germanicus defeats Arminius and recovers the lost standards of Varus.
17  Death of Livy, leaving the massive Ab Urbe Condita unfinished (though 142 books of it had already been published).
19  Germanicus dies of an illness while fighting Parthia; he and his wife accuse Calpurnius Piso of poisoning him.
23 Death of Tiberius’ son Drusus, after which the emperor withdrew heavily from public life; Lucius Aelius Sejanus grows more important in stature; Pliny the Elder is born around this year.
26 Tiberius withdraws to Capri and leaves Sejanus in charge; Pontius Pilate appointed prefect of Judaea.
28 Silius Italicus is born around this year.
27 Celsus’ De Medicina is published around this year.
30 Velleius Paterculus’ Compendium is published.
31 Tiberius has Sejanus arrested on suspicion of treason; Phaedrus Fabulae I published; Velleius Paterculus’ Memorabilia published after this year.
34 Birth of Persius.
37 Death of Tiberius; around this year Seneca the Elder’s Controversiae and Suasoriae are published.
37–41  Reign of Caligula.
39  Birth of Lucan
41  Assassination of Caligula by the Praetorian Guard; birth of Martial; Seneca the Younger is exiled, and his Consolatio ad Marciam and De Ira are published around this year.
41–54 Reign of Claudius
42 Seneca’s Consolatio ad Helviam Matrem published; Curtius Rufus’ Historia Alexandri Magni published after this year.
43 Roman conquest of Britain begins; Canterbury captured and London founded; Lycia is annexed and the Roman Empire now has completed control of the Mediterranean coast; Seneca’s Consolatio ad Polybium published.
45 Claudius expels the Jews from Rome; Statius is born around this year.
49  Seneca the Younger begins tutoring the future emperor Nero.
50 Claudius adopts Nero and names him heir.
52 Pliny the Elder’s Seneca’s De Brevitate Vitae published around this year.
54 Death of Claudius; Seneca’s Apocolocyntosis is published.
54–68 Reign of Nero.
55 Tacitus is born around this year.
56 Seneca’s De Clementia published.
58 Seneca’s De Vita Beata published around this year.
58–63 Third Parthian War.
59 Nero has his mother Agrippina murdered; Petronius’ Satyricon is published around this year.
60 Lucan won a prize for his Orpheus and Laudes Neronis; he and Nero become friends.
61 Pliny the Younger was born either in this year or the next; Lucan begins his Pharsalia.
62 Death of Persius; Seneca is exiled by Nero and his De Otio possibly published in this year.
63 Seneca’s De Tranquilitate Animi and Naturales Quaestiones are published; an earthquake near Pompeii sends citizens into a panic.
64 The Great Fire of Rome burns half the city; either Christians or Nero is blamed for it; Seneca’s De Beneficiis is published.
65 A conspiracy led by Gaius Calpurnius Piso to kill Nero is quashed; Seneca and Lucan are among those accused of joining and forced to commit suicide; afterward, Nero becomes increasingly despotic; Columella’s De Re Rustica published.
66 Petronius is made to commit suicide.
66–73 Jewish Revolt.
67  Future emperor Vespasian and his son Titus arrive in Judaea to quash the rebellion.
68 The Senate condemns Nero, and he killed by the Praetorian Guard.
68–69 Year of the Four Emperors: Galba, Otho, Vitellius, and then finally Vespasian are declared emperor in quick succession.
69 Vespasian deposes Vitellius and is proclaimed emperor; Titus is left in Judaea to capture Jerusalem.
70 Titus captures Jerusalem after laying siege to it; Suetonius is born around this year.
72–80 The Colosseum is built.
77 Gnaeus Julius Agricola is named governor of Britain; he takes the first Roman troops to explore the northern areas of Scotland; Pliny the Elder’s Naturalis Historia published.
79 Vespasian dies of fever; Valerius Flaccus’ Argonautica is published after this year; Mount Vesuvius erupts, destroying Pompeii, Herculaneum, Oplontis, and Stabiae; among the dead is Pliny the Elder.
79–81 Reign of Titus.
80 Gnaeus Julius Caesar invades Scotland; Martial’s Liber de Spectaculis is published.
81 Death of Titus; his brother Domitian succeeds him and takes the title Dominus “lord/master,” marking the shift from the Principate to the Dominate.
81–96 Reign of Domitian.
84–85 Martial’s Xenia and Apophoreta published.
86 Martial’s Epigrammata 1–2 published.
88 Famous schoolteacher Quintilian retires in order to write.
90 Death of Valerius Flaccus.
92 Statius’ Thebaid is published.
94 Domitian expels all philosophers from Rome.
95 Domitian, suffering from extreme paranoia, begins executing Senators; Quintilian’s Institutio Oratoria published.
96 Domitian is assassinated under the auspices of the Praetorian Guard; Senate proclaims Nerva emperor and damns the memory of Domitian.
96–180 The era of the Five Good Emperors.
97 Nerva appoints Trajan as his successor; Tacitus is consul; Frontinus’ De Aquis Urbis Romae published around this year.
98 Death of Nerva from a stroke; Tacitus’ Agricola and Germania published around this year.
98–117 Reign of Trajan.
100  Pliny the Younger delivers his Panegryicus to Trajan; Silius Italicus publishes his Punica around this time.
102 Martial’s Epigrammata XII and Tacitus’ Dialogus de Oratoribus published around this year.
105 Trajan’s Bridge is finished, the longest bridge in the world for over a thousand years.
110 Tacitus’ Historiae and Pliny the Younger’s Epistles I–IX published around this year.
111 Trajan makes Pliny governor of Bithynia and Tacitus of Asia Minor.
114–116 Fourth Parthian War.
117 Death of Trajan; Florus’ Epitoma de Tito Livio compiled around this year.
117–138 Reign of Hadrian.
117 Tacitus’ Annales published around this year.
120 Suetonius’ De Vita Caesarum published around this year.
127 Juvenal’s Satires are published after this date.
132–135 Bar Kokhba revolt.
138–161 Reign of Antoninus Pius.
161–180 Reign of Marcus Aurelius, the last of the “Five Good Emperors.”
212 The Constitutio Antoniniana (aka Edict of Caracalla) established Roman citizenship for everyone living within the Roman Empire.
235–284 Crisis of the Third Century
293 Diocletian’s reforms split the empire into four tetrarchs.
313 Constantine and Licinuius issue the Edict of Milan, which ended Christian persecutions.
325 Constantine called together the Council of Nicaea to settle ecumenical doctrine.
330 Constantinople is founded and becomes the new official capital of the Roman Empire.
381–395 Theodosius’ persecution of pagans.
410 Alaric, King of the Goths, sacks Rome, the first time its walls had been breached by a non-Roman since Brennus’ invasion in 387 BCE.
455 Genseric and the Vandals sack Rome.
476 Odoacer deposes Romulus Augustulus, the last Roman emperor, and makes himself King of Italy.

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