Event Title

Non inflati somnia Callimachi: Callimachean Elements in Propertius

Presenter Information

Michael Swantek, Oberlin College

Location

Science Center K209

Start Date

10-28-2016 3:30 PM

End Date

10-28-2016 4:50 PM

Abstract

In a selection of Propertius intended for schoolboys in 1885, J.P. Postgate introduced the then popular impression of the poet’s style thus (p. lxxii): These contrasts, these extravagancies, these fluctuations and incoherencies, these half-formed or misshapen thoughts, what do they signify? What is the secret of this chaos? Our appreciation of Propertius’ literary art has been much improved since that time, owing not least to the profusion of relevant scholarship that has appeared in the last few decades. Much attention has been paid to the difficulty of his expression and logic, to his role within the broader tradition of the Augustan poets, and to the exceedingly poor state of the extant Propertian manuscripts. A number of studies have also attempted to illustrate the influence of earlier poets, Latin as well as Greek. Of his predecessors there can be little doubt that the most important is Callimachus, a Greek scholar-poet of the Hellenistic period. Indeed, Propertius envisions himself, as he informs us in the opening lines of 3. 1, as the Roman incarnation of Callimachus, to whom the task has fallen to lead his chariot over untrodden paths. The aim of my paper is to trace the strands of this influence in Propertius’ poetry and to situate it within the context of previous work, thus helping, I hope, to illuminate the secret of the chaos.

Notes

Session II, Panel 9 - Art & Connections

Major

Greek and Latin

Award

Oberlin College Research Fellowship (OCRF)

Project Mentor(s)

Chris Trinacty, Classics

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Oct 28th, 3:30 PM Oct 28th, 4:50 PM

Non inflati somnia Callimachi: Callimachean Elements in Propertius

Science Center K209

In a selection of Propertius intended for schoolboys in 1885, J.P. Postgate introduced the then popular impression of the poet’s style thus (p. lxxii): These contrasts, these extravagancies, these fluctuations and incoherencies, these half-formed or misshapen thoughts, what do they signify? What is the secret of this chaos? Our appreciation of Propertius’ literary art has been much improved since that time, owing not least to the profusion of relevant scholarship that has appeared in the last few decades. Much attention has been paid to the difficulty of his expression and logic, to his role within the broader tradition of the Augustan poets, and to the exceedingly poor state of the extant Propertian manuscripts. A number of studies have also attempted to illustrate the influence of earlier poets, Latin as well as Greek. Of his predecessors there can be little doubt that the most important is Callimachus, a Greek scholar-poet of the Hellenistic period. Indeed, Propertius envisions himself, as he informs us in the opening lines of 3. 1, as the Roman incarnation of Callimachus, to whom the task has fallen to lead his chariot over untrodden paths. The aim of my paper is to trace the strands of this influence in Propertius’ poetry and to situate it within the context of previous work, thus helping, I hope, to illuminate the secret of the chaos.