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SEMINAR | Writing History


Dr Jonathan Wallis, University of Tasmania

Start Date

9th Sep 2016 11:00am

End Date

9th Sep 2016 12:00pm

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Writing History

Presented by Dr Jonathan Wallis, University of Tasmania

Friday 9 September 2016, 11.00 am -12.00 pm

Room 346 Humanities Building, Sandy Bay Campus

Propertius 3.4 and 4.3 are two poems linked by shared representation of Roman imperial achievement as a textual phenomenon. In both poems, the elegiac narrator – Propertius himself in 3.4, and the married woman Arethusa in 4.3 – is located at Rome, a place signified explicitly as the centre of empire; from this vantage point, each narrator seeks to make sense of Augustan narratives of conquest and expansion. Both narrators emphasise that their access to historical ‘truths’ is mediated by artful representation, and so establish an interpretive dynamic between citizen and state which bears uncanny resemblance to that between elegy’s own reader and the personal biography elegy purports to communicate. As such, these poems extend elegy’s long-standing obsession about the writtenness and artificiality of its own genre to Roman identity and to the extent Roman power, figuring both as being shaped according to the narrative of the princeps (who is therefore a creative entity not dissimilar to the elegiac poet). The elegies also reflect the situation of contemporary citizens removed from the direct contact with the Roman periphery, and observe their vulnerability to the cultural authorship the Augustan elite.
Dr Jonathan Wallis is a Lecturer in Classics at the University of Tasmania. He works particularly with Latin poetry of the Augustan era, and is currently publishing a book on the third collection of Propertius’ elegies.

Classics Seminar 9 Sep