Propertius, Greek Myth, and Virgil: Rivalry, Allegory, and Polemic

ISBN : 9780199541577

Peter Heslin
320 ページ
156 x 234 mm

This volume offers a strikingly innovative account of Propertius' relationship with Virgil, positing a keen rivalry between two of the greatest poets of Latin literature, contemporaries within the circle of Maecenas. It begins by examining all of the references to Greek mythology in Propertius' first book; these passages emerge as strongly intertextual in nature, providing a way for the poet to situate himself with respect to his predecessors, both Greek and Roman. More specifically, myth is also the medium of a sustained polemic with Virgil's Eclogues, published only a few years earlier. Virgil's response can be traced in the Georgics, and subsequently, in his second and third books, Propertius continued to use mythology and its relationship to contemporary events as a vehicle for literary polemic. This volume argues that their competition can be seen as exemplifying a revised model for how the poets within Maecenas' circle interacted and engaged with each other's work - a model based on rivalry rather than ideological adhesion or subversion - while also painting a revealing picture of how Virgil was viewed by a contemporary in the days before his death had canonized his work as an instant classic. In particular, its novel interpretation offers us a new understanding of Propertius, one of the foundational figures in Western love poetry, and how his frequent references to other poets, especially Gallus and Ennius, take on new meanings when interpreted as responses to Virgil's changing career.


1 The Lover's Mockumentary
Searching for Gallus
Patronage and Politics
The Umbrian Callimachus
The Text of Propertius
Aphrodite's Underwear
Horace, For Example
Deviant Exemplarity
2 Programmatics
Of Apples and Arcadia (1.1)
Myth and Ornament (1.2)
The Objectifying Gaze (1.3)
3 Myth and Genre
Against Iambic (1.4)
Antigone and Elegy (1.7)
Amphion vs Orpheus (1.9)
Prometheus and the Mayfly (1.12)
Love and Money (1.14)
Hysterical Heroines (1.15)
Nasty Nereids (1.17)
Love and Death (1.19)
The Real Gallus (1.13)
4 Against Pastoral
Tender Feet (1.8)
Et in Arcadia Echo (1.18)
The Second Best Bed (2.4)
Hylas Descending (1.20)
Virgil's Orpheus
5 The Return of Orpheus
Virgil's Metamorphosis (2.1)
Eurydice Recovered (2.7)
Missed Connections, Lost Property (2.10)
Orpheus and Adonis (2.13)
The Resurrection of Orpheus (2.27)
The Muse's Child (2.30)
Various Poets (2.34)
The Resurrection of Adonis
6 Ennius Redivivus
Troy or Romea (3.1)
The Polyphemus Paradox (3.2)
Nightmare on Helicon (3.3)
A Hypocritical Epicurean (3.5)
Poet and Patron (3.9)
7 Conclusion
Index Locorum
Index Nominum


Peter Heslin is Reader in Classics at Durham University. He is the author of The Museum of Augustus: The Temple of Apollo in Pompeii, the Portico of Philippus in Rome, and Latin Poetry (J. Paul Getty Museum, 2015), The Transvestite Achilles: Gender and Genre in Statius' Achilleid (CUP, 2005), and several articles examining Propertius' relationship to both Virgil and Horace. He has also written on the topography of Augustan Rome, the Latin epic tradition, and Digital Humanities, and is the developer of Diogenes, open-source software for reading Latin and Greek texts.