ABOUT THIS BOOK
Throughout its history, the city of Rome has inspired writers to describe its majesty, to situate themselves within its sweeping landscape, and to comment upon its contribution to their own identity. The Roman elegiac poet Propertius was one such author. This final published collection, issued in 16 BCE, has been traditionally read as an abandonment by Propertius of his earlier flippant love poems for a more mature engagement with Roman public life or else a comical send-up of imperial policies as embodied in Rome’s public buildings. The relationship between poet and city is complicated at every turn with the presence in the background of the emperor Augustus, whose sustained artistic patronage of Roman monuments brought about the most pervasive transformation that the cityscape had yet seen.
The Elegiac Cityscape explores Propertius’ Rome and the various ways his poetry about the city illuminates the dynamic relationship between one individual and his environment. Combining the approaches of archaeology and literary criticism, Tara S. Welch examines how Propertius’ poems on Roman places scrutinize the monumentalization of various ideological positions in Rome, as they poke and prod Rome’s monuments to see what further meanings they might admit. The result is a poetic book rife with different perspectives on the eternal city, perspectives that often call into question any sleepy or complacent adherence to Rome’s traditional values.