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Dr Donncha O’Rourke (University of Edinburgh), ‘Propertian solutions to Callimachean problems’

A seminar by Dr Donncha O’Rourke (University of Edinburgh) for Classics and Ancient History

The Roman reception of Callimachus as a stylistic model incompatible with long poems on 'kings and heroes' (Virg., Ecl. 6.3) sets up a series of problems for those Roman poets who do, in one way or another, end up writing long(ish) poems on kings and heroes. This is especially true for Propertius, whose affiliation with Callimachean aesthetics defines his elegy in opposition to epic, but whose most explicit self-definition as the 'Roman Callimachus' (4.1.64) launches a poetry-book that breaks the elegiac mould to incorporate the themes of Virgilian epic and Augustan politics. This tension is already well understood. My paper hopes to shed light on some previously unexplored - but in fact rather precise - ways in which Propertius shows that writing long(ish) poems on kings and heroes is perfectly in line with his professed Callimachean credentials. In this way, through a hyperextension of the Callimachean programme, and through the resolution of the problems posed thereby, Propertius, like Virgil, 'stages' a poet of his generation coming to terms with an Augustan poetic agenda.

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Building:One Bateman Lecture Theatre