Chapter

The Lover as Poet

Ruth Rothaus Caston

in The Elegiac Passion

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780199925902
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199980475 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199925902.003.0005

Series: Emotions of the Past

The Lover as Poet

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Chapter 5 examines the role of readers, both those internal and external to the poems. In a number of key elegies, the narrator’s rival is another love poet, and so a more sensitive reader internal to the poem, unlike his more typical rivals. Nonetheless, the rivalry, both erotic and poetic, never entirely disappears. External readers are also drawn into the jealous triangles represented in elegy. The first-person account of jealousy recreates within the reader the experience of suspicions and fears, playing on the reader’s own vulnerabilities. The suspense as the jealous figure obsessively hunts down clues about the beloved’s infidelity leads readers to try to sift through what is often an inconsistent and uncorroborated account. By making us aware of these parallels between reader and jealous figure, the love poets create greater sympathy for their narrators at the same time that they stimulate skepticism and disbelief.

Keywords: poetry; rivalry; readers; jealous triangles; first-person account; skepticism; suspicions

Chapter.  13427 words. 

Subjects: Classical Literature

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