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Love and Romance in Greece and Rome

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Study Guide for Propertius, Elegies


From the readings and discussions, know the following names and terms:

Cynthia - alludes to Mt Cynthus on the island of Delos, birthplace of Apollo and Diana
Love/Amor
Tullus - nephew of the Roman governor of Asia in 30/29 BCE (Book 1, poems 1, 6, 14, and 22)
Gallus - possibly the Roman elegiac poet who was also appointed prefect of Egypt by Augustus from 30-26 BCE (Book 1, poems 5, 10, 13, 20)
Ponticus - an epic poet (Book 1, poems 7 and 9)
Caesar Augustus - that is, Octavian, Julius Caesar's nephew Octavian whom he adopted as his son
Antony - Octavian's political rival; Cleopatra's lover
Maecenas - one of Augustus' two trusted advisers (along with the general Agrippa); prefect of Rome while Augustus is away campaigning; patron of the arts and poetry
Manes -spritis of the dead
Callimachus and Philetas -Alexandrian poets who write short, learned, slender poems, not the heavy hexameters of epic poetry

Monobiblos - another name for Book 1
programmatic poem - a poem, usually the first one, that sets out the poetic themes for a book of poetry
addressee
servitium amoris (slavery of love)
militia amoris (soldiering for love)
furor amoris (madness of love, lovesickness)
iter amoris (the journey of love)
praeceptor amoris (teacher of love)
paraclausithyron (by the closed door)
epitaph - funerary poem, usually on a tombstone
sphragis - a poem that identifies the writer within the poem; typically the first or last poem of a collection; literally a "seal" on the collection
recusatio (refusal)

Consider the following questions:
1. How does Propertius describe his relationship with Cynthia in the first poem? Why does he mention Milanion? Witches? Friends? Why does he give other lovers advice at the end of the poem?

2. How does Propertius structure his first book? By theme? By pairs of poems? By addressee? Chronologically? Concentrically? Why does he end the first book with two short poems that seem to have nothing to do with love or Cynthia?


3. Consider the programmatic poem in each of the four books. Do they characterize/sum up the content of each book? Are the four poems themselves interrelated or allude to each other?

4. In examining each book can you see a progression in theme or in the chronology of the affair from book to book? Or from poem to poem within each book?

5. How does Cynthia compare with Catullus' Lesbia? The persona Propertius with Catullus' persona?

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