Some of the most famous literary works from antiquity are so-called didactic poems. Even the Greeks and Romans found it difficult to gain a theoretical understanding of this genre, and modern readers often avoid such texts, which they perceive as dry and overly technical. Volk offers a newtheoretical look at this genre, discussing the characteristics that make a poem 'didactic' from the points of view of both theory and literary history, and tracing its history from Hesiod to Roman times. This discussion leads into detailed interpretations of four great Latin didactic poems:Lucretius' De rerum natura, Vergil's Georgics, Ovid's Ars Amatoria, and Manilius' Astronomica. Volk cocludes that didactic poems, though belonging to a genre often regarded as unpoetic, typically present themselves self-consciously as poetry and give particular attention to discussions ofpoetics.