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Georgia Ferentinou


The fourth book of Propertius’ Elegies marks the progress in the genre of elegy itself, introducing an aetiological aspect. Αt the same time Propertius’ poetic voice expands in order to include a number of different mythological voices. Elegies 4.4 and 4.9 are two representative examples of this, giving voice to Tarpeia and Hercules. The current paper aims to show the progress in the literary figures of Tarpeia and Hercules: Tarpeia will be given her own voice for the first time, inscribing herself in elegy, while an epic struggle of Hercules with Cacus will be replaced by that of Hercules with elegy. It will also be argued that, apart from employing the same literary background, these two elegies are connected through the motives of conflict between female and male, elegy and epic, space and space, and also through the game of appearance and social status. Propertius plays with the expectations of the reader, well acquainted with the 8th book of Virgil’s Aeneid and Livy’s Ab Urbe Condita, and like a new Evander, he takes us on a journey in time, giving his own account on the progress of locus in Rome. Going backwards in time, from the story of Tarpeia to the one of Hercules and Cacus, the progress in the formation of contemporary Rome and its most recognizable monuments is seen by Propertius as a result of a struggle between mythological figures, who wish to gain access to different genres: the elegiac Tarpeia in the epic space of the epic Tatius and the epic Hercules in the elegiac worship space of Bona Dea. 

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Conference papers