‘What's Love got to do with it?’

Paul Allen Miller

in The Oxford Handbook of the Elegy

Published in print April 2010 | ISBN: 9780199228133
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Literature

 ‘What's Love got to do with it?’

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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.

Keywords: Latin elegy; Hellenistic elegy; Rome; erotic poetry; Catullus; Propertius; Tibullus; Ovid

Article.  9304 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)

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