Author (Your Name)

Elizabeth Latham, Colby College

Date of Award


Document Type

Senior Scholars Paper (Colby Access Only)


Colby College. English Dept.


Benbow, R. Mark


The verse epistle, like most other art forms, has no definable starting point. Although its predecessor, the published prose letter, is known to have been an independent literary form in the third century B.C., there seems to have been no development of verse letters among the Greeks of that time or among the early Romans. The first evidence of epistles being written in verse comes to us through Cicero, who mentions the witty letters of a young soldier, Spurius Mummius, written in verse around 130 B.C. These were not published, but were preserved by his family. Slightly later Lucilius (l48-103 B.C.) in a book of verse satires included one satire written in letter form. This is the only surviving verse epistle before the publication of the books of Horace.


Shift of Poetic Sensibility, Epistolary poetry, criticism


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