Myth and personal experience in Roman love-elegy, with consideration of the Hellenistic background
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This thesis examines the manner in which the Roman love-elegists used myth to illustrate personal experience. It is shown that the elegists were probably indebted to the poets of the Hellenistic period for the various techniques they used to link myth (usually in the form of exempla) to its context. Chapter 1 looks at some illustrative and paradeigmatic uses of myth by the Hellenistic catalogue-elegists; by Callimachus, Apollonius Rhodius and Theocritus; and by the epigrammatists. It is shown that the major Hellenistic poets developed techniques by means of which the exemplum could be made an integral part even of a short poem or episode. It was Tibullus and Propertius on whom these ways of handling myth' had the most effect; Ovid was influenced more by the epigrammatists. Chapter 2 examines briefly Catullus' handling of myth in his elegy LXVIII and Callus' possible use of myth. Chapter 3 deals in some detail with Tibullus' use of myth in 1, 3 (the Golden Age; Elysium; Tartarus); 1, 10 (the mythic past; Hades) and 11,3 (Apollo and Admetus; the mythic past). The very close connexion between these myths and the poet's personal experience is demonstrated. Chapter 4 handles Propertius' use of myth to illustrate in various ways his own and his mistress' experience. The material here is treated in three sections: (i) Allusive Exempla - where the poet presupposes knowledge on the reader's part of the mythological events concerned. (ii) Shaped Exempla - i.e. exempla which the poet shapes in different ways for his own purposes, including in them all the details necessary for the reader's understanding. (iii) Mixed Exempla - which combine the characteristics of both the above categories. Chapter 5 deals with Ovid's use of myth in his Amores to illustrate what is presented as personal experience. His mythological illustrations are discussed in four categories: (i) Illustrative Exempla - i.e. exempla used in a rhetorical way simply to prove a given point or statement. (ii) Witty Exempla - used chiefly to create humorous and amusing effects. (iii) Mixed Exempla - combining the functions of both the first two categories. (iv) 'Propertian' Exempla - i.e. exempla handled by Ovid very much in the manner of Propertius. The Conclusion briefly draws together evidence of the influence of the Hellenistic poets' treatment of myth on the Roman love-elegists. It also outlines what is distinctive and characteristic about each of the elegists' manner of handling myth.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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