Books to read after A276

A276 (along with the follow-on material at the end of the module) equips you with basic Latin vocabulary and grammar. With that, you can read a lot – as long as you have access to the right support!

At this level, if you want to read Latin texts you ought to be looking for texts with translation and commentary. The translation will help you to see how the Latin works, and a good commentary will explain any knotty points of grammar.

There are a number of such editions around. These are my top book recommendations:



David West’s Horace. You already know David West’s style from his translation of the Aeneid: his priority was always to make the great Roman poets readable and – above all – not dull! His editions of Horace’s Odes are a brilliant read: the translations of the poems are thoughtful, and the commentary section on each poem leads you through the problems of interpretation. West’s enthusiasm for Horace makes these books enjoyable: they will change your perception of Horace! It’s worth looking out for second-hand copies, because the cost of them new is considerable.


Barsby’s Amores. This is my favourite little book on Ovid’s Amores: it’s not very recent, but it’s still extraordinarily helpful! The translation is one of the best I’ve seen, and the commentary is clear, readable and full of common sense. If you’d like to read some of Ovid’s quirky love poetry, this is the way to do it.


Donald Hill’s Metamorphoses. Finding accessible editions of the Metamorphoses is tricky: a lot of the commentaries are very in-depth, and many volumes only cover a single book of the Metamorphoses. My recommendation is the Aris & Phillips set by the late Professor Hill; they have text and facing translation, and notes which (while not as chatty as the West and Barsby editions above) are helpful without going into too much detail.


Useful sets

There are a number of other useful series. Ones to look out for are:

The blue ‘Bristol Classical Press’ volumes. Some of these are better than others; only a few include translations; but all of them have very explanatory commentaries pitched at non-experts, so they’re usable.

The white Aris & Phillips editions. These all have facing translations and commentaries. Sometimes the commentaries are a bit technical, but the translations are usually very good.

The green-and-yellow Cambridge series. These are extremely in-depth commentaries by leading scholars (without a translation): so they’re valuable, but they can be daunting when you’re just starting out!

Bloomsbury has been publishing a series of books meant to support GCSE and A Level students with set texts. They miss out a lot of chunks: but they’re very good! Here’s a review I wrote of one of the Tacitus volumes.

The Loebs, of course! The Loeb Classical Library is the ultimate study resource, giving text and facing translation in handy pocket-sized volumes which haven’t changed much in a century. They don’t explain anything, so you have to look for discussion and comment elsewhere: but they are lovely to have!