Sextus Propertius Criticism - Essay

Vincenzo Padula (essay date 1871)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: "Chapter VII, Part II" in A Romantic Interpretation of Propertius: Vincenzo Padula, translated by Paola Valeri Tomaszuk, L. U. Japadre L'Aquila, 1971, pp. 73-82.

[In the following excerpt from a work first published in 1871, Padula discusses Propertius's passionate love for Cynthia and asserts that it brought forth a new kind of love poetry.]

… First of all we must realize that the love that made [Propertius] burn for Cynthia—from now on I shall call her thus—was of a very passionate kind. He wanted her alone26, lived for her alone. War is near, young men are arming. Does he care? He stays in Rome and says: "My battles, hard battles, I wage...

(The entire section is 3437 words.)

W. Y. Sellar (essay date 1892)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: "Propertius: Life and Personal Characteristics" and "The Art and Genius of Propertius" in The Roman Poets of the Augustan Age, Oxford at the Clarendon Press, 1892, pp. 260-323.

[In the following essay, Sellar examines Propertius's life and personal characteristics, analyzes the merits of his verse and, with certain exceptions, declares him a great poet.]

Propertius: Life and Personal Characteristics.

There is a greater difference of opinion about the literary position of Propertius than about that of any other Roman poet. The place of Lucretius and Virgil, of Horace and Catullus, in the first rank of Latin authors and among the...

(The entire section is 21763 words.)

Arthur Leslie Wheeler (essay date 1910)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: "Propertius as Praeceptor Amoris," Classical Philology, Vol. V, January, 1910, pp. 28-40.

[In the following essay, Wheeler discusses Propertius's elegies as instruction in erotic love.]

In his effort to justify the Ars amatoria Ovid mentions both Tibullus and Propertius as predecessors who had given erotic teachings. In the case of Tibullus he gives proof by paraphrasing many lines of Tibullus i. 6 (cf. Ov. Tr. ii. 447-64); with regard to Propertius he contents himself (ibid., 465) with the statement: "Invenies eadem blandi praecepta Properti." In spite of this perfectly definite testimony, a surprising difference of opinion has existed...

(The entire section is 4858 words.)

F. R. B. Godolphin (essay date 1934)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: "The Unity of Certain Elegies of Propertius," The American Journal of Philology, Vol. LV, 1934, pp. 62-66.

[In the following essay, Godolphin discusses Propertius's subjective dramatic monologues, suggesting that they have been overlooked by critics.]

Several elegies of Propertius have suffered from harsh treatment at the hands of the editors, who have divided them into A's, B's, and C's1 often without making sufficient effort to understand the author's technique where he departs from the usual types. The narrative elegy and what may be called the elegy of mood certainly occur most frequently. In the latter a given theme or topic is developed with no...

(The entire section is 1725 words.)

Friedrich Solmsen (essay date 1948)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: "Propertius and Horace," Classical Philology, Vol. XLIII, No. 2, April, 1948, pp. 105-09.

[In the following essay, Solmsen considers the influence of Horace's Odes on Propertius's third book, particularly in regard to the idea of gaining immortality through literary accomplishments in poetry.]

It is well known that in Propertius' third book the love theme occupies a much smaller place than it does in the first and second books. The first poem that actually treats of his love and his puella is iii. 6. In the preceding five poems (which for our purposes may be regarded as a unit)1 Propertius is concerned not so much with his love as with...

(The entire section is 3201 words.)

W. A. Camps (essay date 1961)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: An introduction to Propertius Elegies, Book I, Cambridge at the University Press, 1961, pp. 1-13.

[In the following essay, Camps provides an overview of Propertius's life and works, and offers an analysis of his influences, allusions, and merit as a poet.]

Propertius' works

Propertius' works consist exclusively of poems in the elegiac metre. In the manuscripts they are divided into four books, containing respectively 22, 34, 25 and 11 elegies, making a total of 92. As, however, several of these are subdivided by modern editors, the total in modern editions is usually larger.

Most of the elegies in the first...

(The entire section is 4019 words.)

Palmer Bovie (essay date 1963)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: "Sextus Propertius," in The Poems of Propertius, translated by Constance Carrier, Indiana University Press, 1963, pp. 9-22.

[In the following essay, Bovie considers the impact of Propertius on certain poems of Ezra Pound and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.]

Little is known of the life of Sextus Propertius. He was a Roman citizen, and an Italian who like St. Francis and Raphael came from the region of Umbria. He was born, probably at Assisi, around 50 B.C., and died some forty years later after earning recognition as a lyric poet whose main theme was love. Propertius' father died while Propertius was still a boy, and his mother during Propertius' early manhood; so...

(The entire section is 4149 words.)

Leo C. Curran (essay date 1966)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: "Vision and Reality in Propertius 1.3," Yale Classical Studies, Vol. 19, 1966, pp. 189-207.

[In the following essay, Curran examines Propertius's syntax and explores how his use of parallelism, proper adjectives, synecdoche, colloquialisms, and other literary techniques led to the achievement of his desired literary effect.]

Two Distinctive characteristics of Propertian elegy, as has often been observed, are mythological allusion and a language marked by a mixture of the elevated and solemn and the colloquial. It is sometimes assumed in criticism that the mythological learning is merely decorative or, worse, a pedantic display of erudition, and many of...

(The entire section is 6656 words.)

W. R. Johnson (essay date 1974)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: "The Emotions of Patriotism: Propertius 4.6," California Studies in Classical Antiquity, Vol. 6, 1974, pp. 171-80.

[In the following excerpt, Johnson explains the importance of considering the Augustan age in order to place Propertius's works in their proper context.]

… The chief and the abiding problem for critics of Augustan poetry is the gentleman with the frank and terrifying blue eyes who succeeded where everyone else had failed and whose signet ring was, appropriately, a sphinx.19 In the years of his dominance miracle crowded on miracle, but for his contemporaries and his successors and perhaps even for himself the central miracle was...

(The entire section is 4086 words.)

J. P. Sullivan (essay date 1976)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: "Cynthia Prima Fuit" in Propertius: A Critical Introduction, Cambridge University Press, 1976, pp. 76-106.

[In the following essay, Sullivan focuses on the personage of Cynthia, the object of Propertius's love in his poetry.]

The critical problems

In conventional regard, difficult to gainsay, Propertius' love affair with Cynthia dominates the bulk of his poetry before Book 4. The problem is to approach the material critically. In simpler days it was assumed that the first three books faithfully recorded the beginnings and the end, with all the joys and miseries in between, of a long relationship between a younger poet and a...

(The entire section is 10616 words.)

R. I. V. Hodge and R. A. Buttimore (essay date 1977)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: An introduction to The "Monobiblios" of Propertius: An Account of the First Book of Propertius Consisting of a Text, Translation, and Critical Essay on Each Poem, D. S. Brewer Ltd., 1977, pp. 5-15.

[In the following essay, Hodge and Buttimore provide an overview on the-life of Propertius, consider the dating of the poems in his first book, and discuss his use of mythological elements.]


The life of Propertius and the biographical question.

We have very little external evidence for the life of Propertius, as is the case with most ancient poets. However, although he is not often clearly and anecdotally...

(The entire section is 5169 words.)