Apollo and the Propertian Programmatic Poems

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This thesis grew out of a fascination with Augustan poetry and its complex social world to which the author was introduced through the Eclogae of Vergil. The topic was originally suggested by a comment in a footnote in Ross’ Backgrounds to Augustan Poetry (1975: 27-8) that there is no comprehensive study of the image of Apollo in Augustan poetry. Now, 35 years later, there is still no such study and in view of the complexity of the problem, which is becoming more and more evident, it seems less and less likely that a truly comprehensive study of the subject can be made in a single lifetime or be presented in a single volume. However, the importance and usefulness of such a study are self-evident and the present study, in some small way, tries to contribute to this vast project.

Approach to the Augustan World and its Poetry

The study of Propertius and his place in Augustan elegiac poetry has been in vogue for some decades now and the stream of publications shows no signs of letting up. As the title suggests, the present study will focus only on a small scope within the field of Augustan poetry and will limit itself to the poetry of Sextus Propertius 1– specifically to key poems in the Propertian corpus and their closely associated texts. As far as the associated texts are concerned, the focus will naturally fall on poetry, but less closely associated texts, such as prose and even visual art will be included where relevant. The aim of the present study is not to attempt to answer the major questions that dominate Augustan or Propertian studies, but rather to facilitate future study by illuminating a smaller, but important theme.

The Traditional Linguistic and Philological Approach

Our main source of information regarding the Augustan age including its poetry is of course the texts themselves. It follows that any student of Augustan literature should focus primarily on the text. Classical scholars are usually at an advantage in this regard, as so little is known of the authors that biographical data external to the text hardly interferes with the reading. Similarly, our knowledge of the Augustan world view, too, is fragmentary at best and mostly derived from the literature itself, which makes arguing for a certain interpretation on the grounds of the prevailing world view very untrustworthy. The interpreter’s first priority is to get to the meaning of the text.

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Historical Studies

Historical studies include works such as the groundbreaking Roman Revolution by R. Syme (1939), which differs from his illustrious predecessors in that, besides the narration and interpretation of the mainly political historical events, the work also deals with ‘The National Program’ (the title and subject of Chapter 29) as well as ‘The Organisation of Opinion’ (Chapter 30). To the scholar interested in the study of literature these chapters are even more important than those on the rise of Octavian or the struggle of the Senate against Anthony.

INTRODUCTION: Approach to the Augustan World and its Poetry
CHAPTER 1: The Singer and his Audience: The Opening Lines of Propertius’ Four Books
The First Book
The Second Book
The Third Book
The Fourth Book
CHAPTER 2: Apollo and the Propertian Programmatic Poems
CHAPTER 3: Propertius and the Vates Concept
CHAPTER 4: The Apollos in Propertius 2.31 and 2.34
Propertius 2.31
Propertius 2.34
CHAPTER 5: Apollo in the ‘Roman Elegies’ of Propertius (3.1-5)
CHAPTER 6: Propertius 4.6: Mythologising Actium
CONCLUDING REMARKS: Looking back from Propertius 4.6

The Two Faces of Apollo: Propertius and the Poetry of Politics

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