PROPERTIUS 2.31: WHAT THE POET SAYS HE SAW

J. Steenkamp

Abstract


Not only has Propertius 2.31 been used as a kind of artefact to
reconstruct the Temple of Apollo on the Palatine, but it has also been
used to show both that the poet was supporting the new ruler of
Rome by eulogising his building projects and to show that the poet
was anti-Augustan and expressed his opinions through subtly
embedded allusions in the poem. This paper re-examines the
artworks described in the poem, recent archaeological evidence and
some of the poet’s earlier work in order to understand to what extent
the temple described in the poem corresponded to the physical
temple in Rome; what kind of political message or social
commentary the poem delivers, if any; and what this message says
about the world of the poet.


The paper concludes that it is impossible to say how closely the
description of the Temple of Apollo in the poem corresponded to the
actual temple, partly because the poet could and probably did
exploit the fact that his audience were familiar with the temple, such
as emphasising certain features by omitting them. The poem does
have a political message suggested by the detail of the artworks it
describes, but this message is not anti-Augustan per se. Compared
to the author’s other early work, the poem professes strong pacifist
sentiments, as is common to Roman elegy, but at no stage blames
the princeps for the loss of human life which Propertius’ poems
deplores.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7445/57-0-132

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