A commentary on selected elegies of Propertius.
Standard commentaries on the elegies of Propertius tend either to ignore or to pay curt lip service to literary criticism. Linguistic and textual problems are often discussed, translations of difficult passages and explanations of logical transitions are sometimes offered, parallel passages are frequently cited, allusions and exempla are usually explained and occasional reference is made to metrical and stylistic devices. The possible background situations to the elegies are often ignored or inadequately explored; exempla are rarely interpreted within the context of the poem as a whole, the rich resonance of Propertius' style, language and imagery is hardly ever appreciated and the technique of line-by-line commentary adopted by all standard commentaries tends to dismantle the poem into a number of component parts, a process which often obscures the overall 'message' or point of the poem and blunts its impact. Consequently, I have chosen the running commentary format for this thesis, in the belief that this format (with extensive use of footnotes) more adequately enables the literary critic to interpret the multi-faceted complexity of Propertius' elegies without destroying the poem's coherence or losing sight of its overall point. Introductory essays are provided before each commentary: these deal with major problems raised by the poem, discuss other critical opinions without paying too much attention to the more lunatic theories, provide a general estimate of the poem and prepare the way for the running commentaries, which offer a detailed appreciation of the elegy. Five elegies (1.2; 1.20; 2.2; 2.26A; 2.29A) have been selected for literary analysis. Each of these poems is characterised by a complex and varied use of mythology, and I have attempted to demonstrate that the exempla are not merely decorative baubles designed to show off the poet's doctrina but are an integral part of the poem, reflecting the poem's central themes and issues. Furthermore, all the elegies reveal Propertius' imaginative, sophisticated, elegant, versatile and often witty approach to love. For the purpose of this thesis, I have used the text of W.A. Camps (Cambridge, Book I 1961, Book II 1967). Textual problems have not been ignored but such are their number and complexity in Propertius that I decided that detailed textual criticism was beyond the scope of this commentary. In addition to this, because of the highly subjective and often controversial nature of some aspects of literary criticism, I have frequently used tentative expressions such as 'might', 'perhaps' and 'seems'. Such expressions also avoid the pitfalls of the historical/documentary fallacy.