'What's Love got to do with it?':: The Peculiar Story of Elegy in Rome

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This article notes that the largely erotic poetry written by canonical Latin elegists are 'ironic, darkly comic, and politically self-conscious'. It specifically argues that ancient Latin elegy could be self-reflexive, to the point that its very ground of reflection can be located in its own narration of experience. Then, it informs that the complexities of Latin elegy do not make much of the 'mourning, self-pity, and long good byes that would characterize its modern form'. The characteristic of Latin elegy concentrates on the erotic, the motif of the lover as the soldier, first person subjective narration, a combination of irony, preciosity, and a learned allusive style. The elegiac collection allows for the elaboration of a distinct subject position that is not only unprecedented in Hellenistic elegy but also unique to this period and genre of Latin literature. An examination of Catullus, Propertius, Tibullus, and Ovid is finally provided.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of the Elegy
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780191743993
ISBN (Print)9780199228133
StatePublished - 18 Sep 2012

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Oxford University Press, 2014.


  • Catullus
  • Erotic poetry
  • Hellenistic elegy
  • Latin elegy
  • Ovid
  • Propertius
  • Rome
  • Tibullus


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