Propertius, Elegies

LCL 18: 218-219

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Book II



Book Three

Like the poet’s first and last books, Book Three is readily recognizable as a unit. In the opening couplet Propertius formally announces that henceforth he is the Roman successor of Callimachus and Philitas and has freed himself from an exclusive commitment to personal love elegy, which nevertheless continues to be represented. The new poetry touches on a wide range of topics: the poet’s status, the narration of myth (as in the story of Dirce), political comment (with reference to Cleopatra and the forthcoming Parthian campaigns), an encomium of Bacchus, another of Italy, and funeral elegies on Paetus and Marcellus. The last poem (the 24th, for 3.24 and 3.25, joined in A*, clearly cohere and form the recantation of 1.1) would seem to bid Cynthia a final farewell. But just as Conan Doyle was to discover with Sherlock Holmes, some fictional characters lie outside the power of their creators to dispose of, and we shall meet her again before the end.

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.propertius-elegies.1990