Cathy Keane

Professor of Classics
Professor of Comparative Literature (Affiliate)
Performing Arts Department (Affiliate)
PhD, University of Pennsylvania
research interests:
  • Latin literature and culture
  • Roman satiric poetry, especially Juvenal
  • Martial's Epigrams
  • Ancient literary criticism
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    contact info:

    office hours:

    • On leave Fall 2023

    mailing address:

    • MSC 1050-153-244
    • ST. LOUIS, MO 63130-4899
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    Professor Keane's research and teaching interests range broadly over Greek and Roman literature and culture, but center on the comic genres and their engagement with moral, social, and literary problems.

    She has published books and articles on the Roman verse satirists Lucilius, Horace, Persius, and Juvenal and the Roman epigrammatist Martial. Her current major project is a commentary on Juvenal's fifth and last book of Satires.

    Prior to joining the department in 2001, she taught at Reed College and Northwestern University. She has held research fellowships from the Mellon Foundation, the Loeb Classical Library Foundation, the Center for the Humanities at Washington University, and the Margo Tytus Visiting Scholars Program at the University of Cincinnati.


    recent courses

    Greek Mythology (L08 Classics 301C)

    The myths of ancient Greece are not only inherently interesting, but they are an incomparable starting point for the study of the ancient world, and they have offered numerous images and paradigms to poets, artists, and theorists. This course provides an introduction to the major Greek myths, their role in literature and art, their historical and social background, and ancient and modern approaches to their interpretation. Student work will include discussing course material in sections and online, taking two exams covering both the myths themselves and the ancient authors who represent our richest sources, and writing several essays interpreting or comparing ancient literary treatments. Open to first-year students.

      The Ancient Novel (L08 Classics 3003)

      This Writing Intensive seminar provides a thorough introduction to the works of prose fiction written in Ancient Greek and Latin, most dating from the 1st through 3rd centuries CE. These novels are concerned with romance, human psychology and sexuality, exotic travel and adventure, magical phenomena, and religious experience. Once excluded from the classical literary canon, in the last half-century these works came to occupy an important place in the study of the ancient Mediterranean world. We will consider them both as literary texts that yield many interesting ideas through close reading, and as vehicles for Greek and Roman constructions of cultural, social, and gender categories. Selections from modern scholarship on the novels will assist us in both these projects. So will the Writing Intensive structure of the course: all students will write, receive feedback on, and revise three analytical papers and perform regular shorter exercises designed to develop relevant skills. We will spend some class time talking about writing, taking inspiration both from the ancient texts (themselves great rhetorical tours de force and examinations of rhetoric’s uses) and from modern scholarship.

        Roman Satire (L10 Latin 441)

        This course focuses on the genre of hexameter satire represented by the Roman poets Lucilius, Horace, Persius, and Juvenal (2nd century BCE - 2nd century CE). The Roman professor Quintilian called satire "entirely Roman" (tota nostra), and our readings will allow us to explore the meaning of this claim for satire's authors and readers. We will read a large sampling of satiric verse in the original Latin, practice reading the dactylic hexameter, and observe and discuss differences between the poets' styles and themes. We'll also read and discuss scholarship on the genre's formal characteristics and influences, its origins in Republican literary culture, and its development in the Imperial period.

          The Emperor Claudius (L10 Latin 4961)

          The unlikely emperor Claudius, who ruled from 41-54 CE, is famous for his physical disabilities, his scholarly pursuits, his surprising elevation to power in middle age upon the murder of Caligula, his tragic promotion of his successor the teenaged Nero, his postmortem deification by the senate, and his modern reception in fiction and television. In this course we read two Latin texts that sum up Claudius’ life, character, and reign: the Life of Claudius from Suetonius’ 2nd-century CE collection of imperial biographies, and the vicious satire written just after Claudius’ death, attributed to Seneca and called Apocolocyntosis (“Ascent of the Pumpkinhead into Heaven”). We also sample the historical writing of Tacitus and the satire of Juvenal. For all their distortions, all these texts are invaluable accounts of the Julio-Claudian era and the evolution of the institution of the principate. While we sharpen our translation skills, we also seek to understand the sources in context by discussing additional ancient accounts and studies by modern scholars and engaging in analyses of our own.

            Selected Publications


            Juvenal and the Satiric Emotions (Oxford, 2015)

            A Roman Verse Satire Reader (Bolchazy-Carducci, 2010)

            Figuring Genre in Roman Satire (Oxford, 2006)


            Recent and In-progress Articles and Chapters

            "Talking Caesars in Martial's Epigrams"

            "Intertexts between Friends: The Rivalry of Martial and Juvenal"

            "The Consolation of Not-Philosophy in Lucilius and Juvenal"

            "Conversations about Sermo," in Lucilius and Satire in Second-Century BC Rome, ed. B. Breed, E. Keitel, and R. Wallace (Cambridge, 2018)

            (With Ralph Rosen) "Greco-Roman Satirical Poetry," in A Companion to Greek and Roman Sexualities, ed. T. Hubbard (Blackwell, 2014)

            Juvenal and the Satiric Emotions

            Juvenal and the Satiric Emotions

            In his sixteen verse Satires, Juvenal explores the emotional provocations and pleasures associated with social criticism and mockery. He makes use of traditional generic elements such as the first-person speaker, moral diatribe, narrative, and literary allusion to create this new satiric preoccupation and theme. Juvenal defines the satirist figure as an emotional agent who dramatizes his own response to human vices and faults, and he in turn aims to engage other people's feelings. Over the course of his career, he adopts a series of rhetorical personae that represent a spectrum of satiric emotions, encouraging his audience to ponder satire's proper emotional mode and function. Juvenal first offers his signature indignatio with its associated pleasures and discomforts, then tries on subtler personae that suggest dry detachment, callous amusement, anxiety, and other affective states.

            As Keane shows, the satiric emotions are not only found in the author's rhetorical performances, but they are also a major part of the human farrago that the Satires purport to treat. Juvenal's poems explore the dynamic operation of emotions in society, drawing on diverse ancient literary, rhetorical, and philosophical sources. Each poem uniquely engages with different texts and ideas to reveal the unsettling powers of its emotional mode. Keane also analyzes the "emotional plot" of each book of Satires and the structural logic of the entire series with its wide range of subjects and settings. From his famous angry tirades to his more puzzling later meditations, Juvenal demonstrates an enduring interest in the relationship between feelings and moral judgment.

            A Roman Verse Satire Reader: Selections from Lucilius, Horace, Persius, and Juvenal

            A Roman Verse Satire Reader: Selections from Lucilius, Horace, Persius, and Juvenal

            The trademark exuberance of Lucilius, gentleness of Horace, abrasiveness of Persius, and vehemence of Juvenal are the diverse satiric styles on display in this Reader. Witnesses to the spectacular growth of Rome’s political and military power, the expansion and diversification of its society, and the evolution of a wide spectrum of its literary genres, satirists provide an unparalleled window into Roman culture: from trials of the urban poor to the smarmy practices of legacy hunters, from musings on satire and the satirist to gruesome scenes from a gladiatorial contest, from a definition of virtue to the scandalous sexual display of wayward women. Provocative and entertaining, challenging and yet accessible, Roman verse satire is a motley dish stuffed to its readers’ delights.

            Figuring Genre in Roman Satire

            Figuring Genre in Roman Satire

            Horace, Persius, and Juvenal, the verse satirists of ancient Rome, developed a unique mode of social criticism by borrowing from their culture's existing methods of entertainment and moral judgment. Keane's analysis of the satiric genre reveals its debt to four key Roman practices: theater, public violence, legal process, and teaching.