D. Mark Possanza

  • Associate Professor


1501 Cathedral of Learning


I began to study Latin as a high-school freshman at the Scranton Preparatory School in Scranton PA. The following year I started Ancient Greek. My teacher, Francis P. Long, a devoted educator and inspiring presence in the classroom, fostered in me a life-long interest in those languages and also introduced me to the world of the Greeks and Romans, a world that continues to fascinate with its richness, its complexity, its vast chronological and geographical span and its oftentimes terrifying strangeness. After high school I continued to study Classics, and again to my good fortune, I was able to do so with teachers who by their example made it clear beyond any doubt that scholarship must not only advance knowledge but must also communicate that knowledge effectively to others in and out of the classroom. Where will knowledge lead without access and opportunity?

My primary area of interest is the literature and history of the late Roman Republic and the beginning of the Principate established by the emperor Augustus, the period from 133 BCE to 14 CE. In that period both a political and literary revolution took place whose causes and consequences still demand investigation and interpretation.

The momentum of events, urban rioting, political assassination, civil war, the restoration of peace and the rule of law, is breathtaking; and the expressive power of the prose and poetry created in the midst of these events captures that momentum and the people caught up in it with a memorable immediacy and directness. 

Education & Training

  • PhD, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1987
  • MA, Classics, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • BA, Franklin & Marshall College, Lancaster, PA

Representative Publications

Translating the Heavens: Aratus, Germanicus, and the Poetics of Latin Translation. Peter Lang 2004.

"Serpentine Constructions: Lucretius, De Rervm natvra 3.657.63." The Classical Quarterly, 64, pp 197-206 doi:10.1017/S0009838813000645

Sixteen articles in The Virgil Encyclopedia edited by Richard Thomas and Jan M. Ziolkowski. 3 vols. Wiley-Blackwell 2013.

“Ovid’s Works: Immortal Works and Material Texts” in the Blackwell Companion to Ovid ed. Peter Knox (2009): 311-326.

Research Interests

Latin Literature of the Roman Republic, Didactic Poetry, Textual Criticism and Transmission of Texts, Material Culture of the Book (roll and codex) before the invention of printing.

Research Category