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classical literature

the literature of ancient Greece and Rome (see Greek literature; Latin literature). The term is also used for the literature of any language in a period notable for the excellence and enduring quality of its writers' works. In ancient Greece such a period extended from about 500 to 320 BC; the Golden Age of Rome ran from about 70 BC to AD 18. French literature of the second half of the 17th century is considered classical, as is English literature of 1660-1714; the works produced and the critical standards that prevailed in both eras emulated those of the classical periods in Greek and Latin, although this criterion is not an essential characteristic of a classical literature.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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