Roman Propertius and the Reinvention of Elegy

Jeri Blair DeBrohun
Studies how Propertius transformed the elegiac form, using Callimachean style as a starting point


This book offers a striking new interpretation of Propertius' notoriously difficult and complex final poetic collection. Through a theoretically informed close reading of the poems, the author illuminates how Propertius in Book 4 simultaneously reinvents and revitalizes his elegy by expanding both its poetic possibilities and its ideological horizons.

In her compelling reassessment of the poet's aims, DeBrohun identifies the conflict of interests between Propertius' ambitions to produce Roman aetiological elegy and his traditional exclusive devotion to erotic concerns as the central dynamic of his final elegiac project. Because both of these elements also held a significant symbolic value in the wider culture of Augustan Rome, Propertius closely links his final poetry to the political, social, and religious discourses of Roman culture. At the culmination of his poetic career, Propertius found in the focus on Roman aetiology a means of expression that allowed him simultaneously both to expand the thematic and ideological range of his elegy by engaging themes of significance to Augustan Rome and also to revisit and reevaluate the origins and aims of his own earlier love elegy.

This book will be of interest not only to scholars and students of Greek and Roman poetry but also to students of later poetic traditions who are concerned with the question of genre as well as with the relationship between poetry and wider cultural discourses. All Greek and Latin is translated.

Jeri Blair DeBrohun is Associate Professor of Classics, Brown University.

Praise / Awards

  • ". . . a welcome addition to the shelf of any Propertian scholar but will also be of great appeal to those interested in the intricacies of Latin poetry and in the way poetry engages with cultural discourses."
    Bryn Mawr Classical Review
  • "This is a study of great ingenuity, designed for Propertian specialists: nobody before DeBrohun, I think, has credited the Roman Poet with such a complex achievement."
    —William S. Anderson, Classical World
  • ". . . exceptionally useful and filled everywhere with keenness of perception."

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Copyright © 2003, University of Michigan. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 304pp.
  • 1 table.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Hardcover
  • 2003
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-11276-0

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  • $89.95 U.S.