Skip to main content Accessibility help

Propertius and Tibullus: early exchanges1

  • R. O. A. M. Lyne (a1)


This paper sets out in section I the most useful evidence we possess for the dating of Propertius Book 1, Tibullus Book 1, and Propertius Books 2a and 2b.2 The evidence squares with a sequence of publication: Prop. 1, Tibull. 1, Prop. 2a, Prop. 2b, which is what, in my view, literary considerations suggest. The most important, or at least most interesting, of these considerations are the signs of response and counterresponse between the two poets. I detect spirited ripostes by the poets, one to the other. Section II examines some Tibullan responses to Propertius Book 1, and section III some Propertian responses, in ‘Book 2’, to Tibullus Book 1.



Hide All

2 I put the primary evidence on view; in literary commentaries and books it can be hard to come by. In, for example,Enk, P. J., Sex. Propertii Elegiarum Liber I (Monobiblos) Pars Prior(Leiden, 1946), pp. 16–19, Murgatroyd (n. 1), pp. 1 Iff.. Hubbard (n. 1), pp. 42–4,Fedeli, P., Sesto Properzio, IlPrimo Libro delle Elegie(Florence, 1980), pp. 10 and 168, the illumination is limited. As for Propertius Book 2a and Book 2b, I accept the basic thesis of Lachmann that the transmitted Book 2 of Propertius contains the remains of two original books. For a succinct argument in favour of Lachmann's view, see–Skutsch But see furtherHeyworth, S. J., ‘Propertius: division, transmission, and the editor's task’, PLLS 8(1995),165–185.1 agree with Heyworth that 2.10 is not a likely candidate for the introductory poem of Book 2b (Lachmann); Heyworth puts the case persuasively for believing (i) that 2.10 was closural in Book 2a (following a point made by Hutchinson, JRS 74 [1984], 100, who does not, however, believe in the division of ‘Book 2’), and (ii), following Richmond, that 2.13 was inceptive in Book 2b; cf. too Heyworth in Mnemosyne 45 (1992), 45–49 on 2.13, discussing its unity, opening status, etc. I have some reason to question whether 2.13 was actually and precisely theflrst poem in Book 2b: seePCPS 44 (1998), 158–81;JRS 88 (1998), 21–36.

3 A supplementary fragment from Apamea clinched the fact of Volcacius Tullus' L. Asian proconsulship: see Jones, A. H. M., ‘L. Volcacius Tullus, Proconsul of Asia’, CR 69(1955), 244f; but the 2nd edn of Ehrenberg and Jones incorporates it.

4 In the Loeb edition (Propertius Elegies [Cambridge, MA, 1990]); Goold provides a challengingly independent text and useful notes and introduction, as well as translation.

5 Secures (‘axes’) belong with the fasces (‘bundles of rods’). The two are sometimes mentioned specifically and separately as a couple (cf. e.g. Lucr. 3.996 as well as the Cicero quoted in the text), but often secures are in prescribed circumstances a physical but unspecified component of the ‘bundles of rods’, i.e. of the emblems, indeed instruments, of imperium, which lictors bore in front of magistrates (consuls, praetors, proconsuls, and others; fasces were originally inherited by the consuls from the kings [Livy 2.1.7f.]). The word fasces is therefore slightly ambiguous: it depended on where the magistrate was operating whether the fasces ‘bundles of rods’ contained secures ‘axes’ or not, and fasces could apply both to rods with axes and rods without axes. Secures, instruments of execution (see below), were present in the fasces of magistrates only outside the city. Cic. Rep. 2.55 tells us that (in 509 B.c.) Valerius Publicola lege ilia de prouocatione perlata statim secures defascibus demi iussit; Dionysius of Halicarnassus 5.19.3 makes it more explicit: Valerius Publicola ‘desiring to give the plebeians a definite pledge of their liberty, took the axes from the rodsand established it as the custom for his successors in the consulship which has lasted down until my day that, whenever they are outside the city, they make use of the axes, but, within the city, they are distinguished by the rods,i.e. the fasces in the narrower sense) only’. (Some modern scholars think this association of the removal of the axes with the law de prouocatione is false: they think that from the start secures were included in the fasces only militiae and not domi: this is discussed by Stavely E. S. Historia 12 [1963], 464–5; but all agree that in, say, Propertius' time secures were included in the fasces of magistrates only outside the city.) The secures signified the power to execute, sometimes directly: Livy 9.16.17f, 28.29.11. Reference is made to proconsuls' lictorsin Dio's account of Augustus’ adjustments to senatorial provincial governors (53.13.4); for specific mention of secures preceding a proconsul, cf. the passages quoted in the text, and for a proconsul employing the securis in execution, see Cicero's account of Dolabella in Verr. 1.75–6.

6 This institution is important and well-documented:cf.Gelzer, M., The Roman Nobility(trans.Seager, R., Oxford,1975),pp. 101f.;Cic. Q.F. 1.1.11–12 (a key text, though Gelzer and Shackleton Bailey's commentary differ slightly in interpretation of detail); the racy but informative poems of Catullus (10, 28, 46); Hor. Epist. 1.3; the amusing letters of Cicero to Trebatius Testa, Fam. 7.6, 17, 18; and Cic. Cael. 73 on Caelius M. service as contubernalis to Pompeius Rufus Q. proconsul of Africa in 61 B.C. is another key text: cum aulem paulum iam roboris accessisset aetati, in Africam profectus est Q. Pompeio pro consule contubernalis.... usus quidam prouincialis non sine causa a maioribus huic aetati tributus. And Cicero, like Propertius, refers to such service as militia. See n. 22 below.

7 An over-literal view is recorded by Enk ad loc. More thoughtfully, but still unconvincingly to me, Cairns, F., AJP 95(1974), 161–2 works with the possibility of etymological play betweenanteire and praeirelpraetor to suggest that the young Tullus had a position aspraetor or propraetor or legatuslquaestor pro praetore

8 Richardson, CAH2IX 575 thinks it lapsed in 49 Hubbard B.C.(n. 1), pp. 42f. is certainly right to question whether it could be applied in our period, when many consulars were compromised as ex-Antonians. For further discussion of the law how it was established and applied, its motives, and so on see ANRWU, A. J. Marshall(1972), 887–921, esp. pp. 891–3.

9 Syme, R.,The Augustan Aristocracy(Oxford, 1986),ch. XV attempts a chronology of Messalla's career, seeking inter alia to place the other events mentioned in Tib. 1.7; for the journey lying behind 1.3 he suggests a date in the spring of 30 B.c. (pp. 209f).

10 Penna, La([n. 1], 1950), 234–236;La Penna, A., L'Integrazione Difficile. Un Profilo di Properzio(Turin,1977), p. 17; Cairns (n. 1), p. 228.It should not be forgotten that Ov. Trist. 4.10.51–3 names Propertius as the successor to Tibullus, and Trist. 2.447ff. lists Tibullus before Propertius; but an operative factor here may be that Tibullus died years before Propertius (for Tibullus' death in 19 B.c. see below; Propertius was alive at least long enough to compose a poem referring to the year 16 B.C.: see n. 19). Cairns and La Pennamention the possibility of pre-publication influence, via recitations, which is indeed something we should keep in mind (cf. Griffin [n. 1]). It is quite possible in fact that there was a degree of two-way influence between the two poets during their respective first books: the periods of composition must have overlapped. I simply argue that the publication of Tibullus 1 post-dates Propertius 1, and that the main one to deliver ripostes in this case is Tibullus. (If I wanted to argue for a Propertian response to Tibullus in Book 1, I would choose Prop. 1.16. Plaut. Cure. 145ff. assumes an animate, addressable door. Catull. 67 gives the door a voice. Prop. 1.16 uses the door's voice to mimic (?mock) excluded lovers' songs: cf. Tib. 1.2.7ff. But if Propertius is mocking such songs, there are other poets to canvass as his butts.)

11 But further problems get in the way of any confidence we may feel. Not only is there insufficient text in 2.1–10 to amount to a plausible book, so that we have to assume lacunae: confusions in the order of poems caused in the process of transmission may be complicating assignment of poems to 2a or 2b. For the closural status of 2.10 and for these further problems, see Heyworth's PLLS article (n. 2).

12 Indian embassy in 26–5 Res Gestae, B.C:31 records embassies from India; Orosius 6.21.19 tells us that legati Indorum met Augustus at Tarraco in Spain; Dio 53.22.5 tells us that Augustus left Rome in 27 B.C, ‘lingered in Gaul’, then proceeded to Spain; Suet. Aug. 26.3 tells us tha Augustus began his eighth and ninth consulships (26 and 25 B.C.) at Tarraco; another datable embassy from India falls in 20 B.c. (Dio 54.9.8), clearly too late for our poem. Arabian expedition: the best evidence for this (probably 25–24 B.C.) comes from Dio 53.29.3–8, but it needs careful interpreting. This it gets fromHardy, G., The Monumentum Ancyranum(Oxford, 1923), p. 123 (Augustus himself refers to the expedition at RG 5.26); the essential points made by Hardy are quoted by Enk, Sex. Propertii Elegiarum Liber Secundus vol. II (Leiden, 1962), p. 152. Cf. too Rich's note on Dio 53.29.3–8, and La Penna (n. 10), L'Integrazione Difficile, p. 48, n. 1

13 Cf.Syme, R., The Roman Revolution(Oxford, 1939), p. 309 favouring 27 B.C

14 For the relevant legislation and its abrogation, see Badian, E., ‘A phantom marriage law’, Philologus 129(1985), 82–98. In sum: (i) The (lex) de maritandis ordinibus which Augustus prae tumultu recusantium perferre non potuit (Suet. Aug. 34.1) must, pace influential Propertian commentators, be the Lex Papia Poppaea of A.D. 9; the Suetonian passage has nothing to do with Prop. 2.7 (note the dating implications of Suet.Aug. 34.2 accitos Germanici liberos). (ii) Propertius' phrase sublatam legemmust refer to a law actually enacted and then repealed; compromise interpretations which talk of ‘proposals’ for legislation cannot be accommodated, (iii) It is inconceivable that Augustus should have enacted a marriage law and then repealed it in, say, 28–27 B.C., without this having an impact upon our historical sources. But there is no evidence at all of such legislation and repeal in the historical sources, (iii) So what lex does Propertius refer to? A solution (Badian's) is that in the Triumviral years, the cash-hungry Octavian imposed among many other taxes a tax on caelibes(no new device in fact), which, together with all outstanding debts incurred under it, was then cancelled in 28 B.c: Dio 53.2.3 records that in that year Augustus ‘burnt the old records of debts owed to the treasury’, debts incurred in the Triumviral years. Propertius in 2.7.1 refers to the cancellation of the tax on caelibes, but sees it from his own point of view: as the cancellation of a law that was threatening to impose marriage and the sundering of lovers. Badian suspects a date of 27 B.C. for the composition of Prop. 2.7. Possibly. But we should note that the poem suggests no especial immediacy. On the contrary, the tense even of the lover'sreactionsto the abrogation is past, and the first couplet is a cue for more general if provocative reflections (at magnus Caesar sed magnus Caesar in armis...). Nor am I convinced by the emendation of est to es in 2.7.1; Postgate's note ad loc. is pertinent. And the third person (‘at all events, at least, Cynthia was happy at....’ ) suggests I think even less sense of immediacy. (I am certainly not convinced incidentally by the division that places 2.6.41–2 at the beginning of 2.7.)

15 I differ thus in one important respect from Hubbard (n.l), pp. 42–4 who puts Tibullus 1 between Propertius 2a and 2b ‘on the most probable hypothesis’ (note that she sees 2.10 with its dateable suggestions as opening 2b rather than closing 2a). For Enk's views see (n. 1), pp. 34–5.

16 For succinct and true comment on the dating of Book 3 see Hubbard (n. 1), p. 44.

17 Reeve, M. D.,‘Tibullus 2.6’, Phoenix 38(1984), 235–9.

18 An epigram of Domitius Marsus (7 Courtney), despite efforts to interpret it in different ways, ties Tibullus' death closely in time to Vergil's (September 19 B.C). The epigram is correctly interpreted by Courtney and by Murgatroyd (n. 1), pp. 5–6.

19 Prop. 4.11.66 refers to the consulship of Cornelius Scipio 16B.C. Prop. 4.6.77 refers to the submission of the Sygambri, who caused a much exaggerated difficulty in 17 B.G:Syme R., ‘Some notes on the legions under Augustus’, JRS 23 (1933), 17–18.

20 I am most concerned in this section with Tibullus 1.1. A seminal article is Jacoby (n. 1). Jacoby documents debts of Tibullus in 1.1 to Propertius (to poems 1.6,17, 19, but not 14) and to others (e.g. to Horace). But (i) he has no high opinion of Tibullus' resulting poem (note e.g. 11.170); (ii) he has no sense of Tibullus responding to, trumping, having fun with, Propertius; what he maps is a Tibullan piecing-together of source material (his ‘Arbeitsweise’).Nevertheless, this is still a most important work. Important too isWimmel W., ibull und Delia. Erster Teil. Tibulls Elegie 1.1 (Hermes Einzelschriften 37; Wiesbaden, 1976), pp. 93–111, discussing the relation of Tibullus to Prop. 1.6, 17 and 19.

21 For amplification of this phrase, should it be wanted, see Lyne, R. O. A. M.,The Latin Love Poets(Oxford,1980; repr. with new introduction and bibliography, 1996), pp. 66–81.

22 For service in the entourage of a provincial governor, see n. 6. Cicero (/am. 7.18.1, twice) as well as Propertius (1.6.30) uses the actual word militia of such service.

23 Cf. Jacoby (n. 1), pp. 149ff; but he misses Tibullus' relation to Propertius 1.14 here. Wimmel (n. 20), pp. 95ff., discussing Tibullus' relation to Prop. 1.6, also brings Tibullus 1.3 into play

24 From Propertius' self-presentation in 1.6 and 14 themselves; and these poems are of course preceded by Prop. 1. Iff. with their love and Cynthia emphases.

25 Cf. further Lyne (n. 21), pp. 149ff. The tease in TibuUus' rustic vision (initially he makes this life of leisure sound moral and hardy) is missed by many of his commentators: e.g. Jacoby (n. 1), pp. 138, 148; Murgatroyd (n. 1), pp. 55 and 298. Tibullus includes echoes of the bogus Alfius' vision of country life (Hor. Epod. 2) in his vision, documented by Jacoby (n. 1), p. 136 and Wimmel (n. 20), pp. 108, 111–13. But these scholars rather misappreciate the effect. Hearing echoes of the fraud Alfius, we should be alerted to the fact that TibuUus' is not, ultimately, a Georgics moral-rustic vision

26 In fact, of course, two considerations prevent Tibullus simply upping and going full-time to the country estate: the urban-domiciled Delia, but also the demands of Messalla more potent in Tibullus' case, than Tullus' in Propertius' case: see Tib. 1.3 and 1.7.9ff., cf. also 1.10.13f, 25; but, in 1.1 and 5 Tibullus chooses not to stress this. (It may be that 1.1.41 ff. are TibuUus' discreet reply, negative at this point, to a specific suggestion by Messalla that if Tibullus serves with him, he may restore the family economic fortunes: diuitiae may be acquired. Lines 53-4 then take up the topic yet more discreetly, viewing such service from Messalla's point of view: the honour of exuuiae; on this cf. Jacoby [n. 1], p. 134.

27 The point is developed Lyne (loc. cit.), but there are new emphases in the above summary.

28 1.5 is closural: discidium, this was the dream {haec mihi fingebam), heu canimusfrustra. 1.6 is inceptive: semper, ut inducar, blandos offers mihi uultus.... Amor, quid tibi saeuitiae mecum est?, etc. (saeuitiae is the MS text, which some doubt); cf. e.g. Hor. Ode 4.1. Some too might see the strange intrusion of the priestess of Bellona in 1.6.43ff. as having meta-literary implications: war, and love and war play a larger part in the second half of the book: 1.7 and 10. For further comment on the structure of TibuUus, Book 1 see below n. 69.

29 Wishful subjunctives: ‘Oh, may I sow the vine, a countryman... may I be able to live content with a little...’, 7ff., etc. I translate the subjunctives of 7ff. as optative subjunctives; sooner or later (e.g. 29), a hypothetical subjunctive seems more appropriate (‘but I would not be ashamed sometimes...’). Commentators hedge and differ as to which if any of these subjunctives are optative. Perhaps justifiably, reflecting an ambiguity: modern scholars feel bound to parse seram, etc.; Tibullus writes simply a non-fact, a non-indicative.

30 The prosaic word and figure ianitor occurs in Propertius only at 4.5.47, a revealing context: the lena talks. He will reappear, relocated, in Ovid's exclusus amator poem, Am. 1.6.

31 Already implied in Catullus, e.g. 5 and 109. It is phrased in relatively simple form too by Propertius at 1.12.19–20. Cf. n. 2

32 Cf. Gallus in Verg. Eel. 10.33f., 43, Damagetus X Gow-Page (= AP 7.735).5-6 where the dying Theano addresses her absent husband thus‘oh that I had been able to die taking your dear hand in mine’

33 More on 1.19 below, section II.3. The theme of love in and after death is pursued by Propertius in ‘Book 2’.Papanghelis T. D., Propertius: A Hellenistic Poet on Love and Death (Cambridge, 1987) discusses these poems splendidly; readers will not agree with everything in his book, but they will hardly fail to be inspired. Jacoby (n. 1), p. 165 suggestively raises the question of what ‘death fantasies’ there may have been in Gallus. The emphasis love until death there surely was: cf. previous note. But perhaps more. Prop. 2.34.91f. seem to me, in spite of the tortuous note of Camps, to imply that Gallus died of love. Is Propertius mixing history with a fantasy of Gallus? The couplet recalls a fragment of Euphorion on Adonis (fr. 43 Powell = 47 van Groningen), and a common source in the ‘Euphorionic’ (Eel. 10.50) Gallus himself is therefore a strong possibility. Cf. Rothstein on 2.34.91, Papanghelis (n. 33), p. 68, n.46

34 On Propertian and Tibullan funerals, cf. Jacoby (n. 1), esp. pp. 162ff., Wimmel (n. 20), pp. 93ff., esp. pp. 997ndash;106 (usefully, he brings Tib. 1.3 into play); but they have little or no sense of dialogue and riposte. Papanghelis ([n. 33], pp. 14, n. 14, 100), excellent on the general topic of Propertian funerals, largely avoids the question of the relation between Propertian and Tibullan funerals; such a relation is superficially glanced at by Murgatroyd ([n. 1], pp. 14, 50–1, also in his nn. on Tib. 1.1.61–8).

35 For love as seafaring, the storms of love, and so on, cf. Gow-Page, Hellenistic Epigrams anonymous XXII = AP 12.156, Meleager LXIV Gow-Page = AP 5.190, CXIX Gow-Page = AP 12.157; for woman as the sea (calm, stormy, changeable, and so on), Semonides 7.27–42.

36 I keep the MSS reponere; Goold prints Baehrens' reposcere. The phrase fata reponere seems to me to contain suggestive and plausible ambiguities: note, for example, OLD s.v. repono 9 ‘store away’, 10b ‘to lay (a body) to rest’.

37 Griffin (n. 1), pp. 144,148. Documentation on gestures of mourning (weeping, locks of hair, and so on) is provided in nn. 39, 61, 63

38 For the idea that mourning can cause distress to the dead (as well as being profitless, a burden to the mourner, etc.), see Nisbet and Hubbard's note on Hor. Carm. 2.9.9, Murgatroyd on Tib. 1.1.66–8. The secure and proper Propertian Cornelia will say (4.11.1)desine, Paulle, meiun laenmis urgere sepulcrum.

39 The rending or offering of hair was, like weeping, a gesture of mourning embedded in Graeco-Roman tradition: cf. Horn. Od 4.197–8‘this is the only honour we pay to miserable men, to cut the hair and let the tear fall from the cheek’, and see Murgatroyd on 1.1.67–8. For further on tears at funerals see n. 63. As for teneris...parce genis (Tib. 1.1.68), this may be a memory of Prop. 1.6.16 insanis ora notet manibus, imagined passion on Cynthia's part on a difFerent occasion. For the rending of cheeks at a funeral, and for Propertius' reply to this detail, see below pp. 536f. with n. 61

40 Further consideration might be given to Tibullus' thoughts of funeral when stranded in ‘Phaeacia’ in 1.3.5–9: he exhibits a more bourgeois and sentimental concern than expressed by Propertius (mater, soror, Delia), and the poem holds out every prospect of a happy outcome (89ff, a happy and bourgeois version of an Odyssean return). We can see here further amusingly complacent glances at Propertius' funeral agonizing in 1.17 and 19 and, also, at his tougher stranded condition in 1.17. Wimmel (n. 20), pp. 99–103 discusses the relation between these poems to considerable effect, but without finding any humour. Papanghelis (n. 33), p. 100 on the relation of Tib. 1.3 and these Propertian poems is uncharacteristically disappointing.

41 Propertius' reasoning that leads to this conclusion is discussed by Lyne (n. 21), pp. 101f.; cf. too section II of my recent article, ‘Love and death: Laodamia and Protesilaus in Catullus, Propertius and others’, CQ 48 (1998), 200–12. Other reasons why Propertius concludes thus exist, and are focused on by Jacoby (n. 1), p. 163. But the fact of death and the end that it brings is by far the most important of them.

42 Contrast Jacoby (n. 1), pp. 163,168–169. He argues that Propertius' argument in 1.19 gives the conclusion (25–26) special significance (clearly correct), but that Tibullus' version (1.1.69–70), in his unproblematic context, is merely banal. This is to misappreciate humour, above all to misappreciate the dialogue that Tibullus is essaying.

43 Cf. Hor. Epodes 8, 12, Carm. 1.25, 3.15,4.13, Cic. Cael. 42.

44 Cf. Lyne (n. 21), p. 66; I here pick up an embryonic suggestion from p. 67 (with n. 4). Some apparent exceptions to the statement in the present text (‘The romantic generally disregarded bothersome detail like ageing’) are discussed in The Latin Love Poets, loc. cit.

45 Other passages in Tibullus suggest Ciceronian-Horatian belief that love is for youth, and distaste at love in old age: 1.2.89–98, 1.8.47–8,2.1.73–4. Cf. too Priapus at 1.4.27ff.

46 I do not understand why some editors (Luck's Teubner, Murgatroyd, defending his decision [n. 1], p. 301) prefer to lose this neat chiasmus, following a minority of the manuscript tradition (despiciam dites...).

47 Indeed Tibullus, finding his concrete figures of dux and miles of love, is innovative and comic even compared with the comic poets, as Murgatroyd in his note on 1.1.75–6 recognizes. M. can find (only) Plaut. As. 656 amorisque imperator as direct precedent, and Pers. 24 saucius factus sum in Veneris proelio is more typical of the (not very frequent) usage in Roman comedy: cf.Duckworth, G. E.,The Nature of Roman Comedy(Princeton,1952), p. 337;Fantham, E.,Comparative Studies in Republican Latin Imagery(Toronto and Buffalo, 1972), pp. 26ff. On militia amoris and its use in Propertius and Tibullus, see Lyne (n. 21), pp. 71–8; for Ovid's use, see esp. Am. 1.9, and Lyne (n. 21), pp. 251–2. Tibullus now seems to me to be funnier more Ovidian than he did in 1980

48 bonus, as Murgatroyd ad loc. sees, relates to dux as well as miles. Horace's address to Augustus as dux bone in Ode 4.5.5 is built on a dignified and well-paralleled collocation: cf.Cic e.g. Off. 3.100, Sail. 1.77 (= oratio Philippiinsenatu).2\, Liv. 7.40.15.

49 A contributor to Tibullus 1.1 curiously neglected by Jacoby (n. 1), and barely glanced at by Wimmel (n. 20), p. 106 It also stimulates 1.2.75–8, as Murgatroyd on Tib. 1.2.75–6 observes.

50 To Pholoe, by contrast when he has a case to make, when he has the interests of his favoured boy at heart he can counsel grand ‘Propertian’ romanticism, 1.8.33f.huic tu candentes umero suppone lacertos.1 et regum magnae despiciantur opes.

51 Solmsen (n. 1).

52 I take scribam and fregerit as future and future perfect indicative like, for example, Camps and Rothstein, and, I infer, Goold; in Guy Lee's translation {Propertius [Oxford, 1994]) they are taken as subjunctive (cf. ausim), which is thought-provoking.

53 The point, as Solmsen brings out (if it needs to be brought out), is not that a country fellow is no poet, but that a poet will not sink to this low level of bumpkin behaviour.

54 Cic. Rosa Amer. 75 praetereo rusticis moribus... istius modi maleficia gigni non solere... uita autem haec rustica quant tu agrestem uocas [he acknowleges a hostile point of view] parsimoniae, diligentiae, iustitiae magistra est; Varr. Rust. 3.1.4; Verg. Georg. 1.168 diuini gloria ruris.

55 Cic. de Orat. 2.25 where rusticus is equivalent to indoctissimus, 3.44 rusticam asperitatem, 45 non aspere.non uaste, non rustice, non hiulce.

56 Cf. e.g. Catullus 22.14 idem inficeto est inficetior rure,36.19f pleni ruris et inflcetiaruml annales Volusi, cacata carta. Rusticusonly elsewhere in Prop, at 4.1.12

57 Goold (n. 4), p. 134 ‘The inconcinnity spoils what the poet intended as a devastating line and raises a doubt about the accuracy of the manuscript tradition.’ The objection is to the syntactical disharmony: Cynthiain apposition to a noun, Cynthia leuisas to a noun in the accusative of respect. Aspiring to concinnity Scaliger suggested formipotensand Richards lingua(for uerba); alii alia.But (we could argue) a weakness in the epigrammatic construction reinforces Propertius' humour at his own expense: as I say, his weapon of retaliation lacks punch in every way.

58 If Richmond and Heyworth are right, this poem is initial in Book 2b. See Heyworth's PLLSpaper (n. 2); cf. too his Mnemosynepaper (also n. 2) for convincing arguments for the unity of 2.13 as well as its inceptive status, and for general literary exposition. Fine discussion too in Papanghelis (n. 33), ch. 4 (and elswhere).

59 But an unexpected and productive glance at interplay between Prop. 2.13 and Tibullus 1.1 in Jacoby(n. 1), p. 163, n. 75.

60 Griffin (n. 1), p. 148, talking of Cynthia's lacerated breast, observes that ‘the gentler spirit of Tibullus...shrank from this...detail’

61 The Twelve Tables forbade Roman women even to scratch their cheeks at funerals: for this fact and for other facts and conjectures about actual practice at Roman funerals, seeTreggiari, S.Roman Marriage(Oxford, 1991), pp. 489–90. But back in the Iliad Briseis ‘tore at her breasts with her hands, and her soft throat, and her beautiful face’ ( II. 19.284E), over the body of Patroclus; we should note that the gesture is extravagant even in that epic world; elsewhere in Homer, ‘heroic mourners do not go farther than tearing their hair’ (Leaf ad loc.). Huge and special heroic despair rather than eroticism is provided by nudum pectus lacerata. Papanghelis (n. 33), p. 64 sees (I infer) an erotic colour in the detail; there is certainly eroticism in the vicinity, as (following P.) I remark in the text

62 Papanghelis (n. 33), p. 64. Propertius does not elsewhere use this diminutive. Catullus was fond of it: cf. most pertinently Catull. 8.18 quern basiabis? cui labella mordebis?Cf. too Papanghelis, pp. 78–9.

62 A conventional offering: this hardly needs documenting, but cf. at one end of history, in the grand heroic world, Hom. Il. 24. 712–14, 746, 760, 776, 786 (tears for Hector), Od. 4.198 quoted above n. 39, at the other end, in the aristocratic Roman world, Paullus' tears for Cornelia in Propertius himself: 4.11.1. See further Treggiari (n. 61) loc. cit. Interestingly, Propertius eschews tears in his other arty burial scene, 3.16.21ff. (mentioned below) but not, be it noted, the grand Maecenas' at 2.1.76. We may note too that the offering of a lock of hair is now no longer of importance to Propertius: contrast 1.17.21 and above p. 528.

64 Solmsen(n. 1), 277ff. = II.303ff. pursues a relation between 3.16.11–20 and Tib. 1.2.25ff., an interesting one, but Solmsen misses the humour in it.

65 The assumption that the two activities are identical is a common motif in Propertius, with which he makes much play. In a simple form we find it in 1.7.5ff.

66 Cf. Griffin (n. 1), p. 149 with n. 26, quoting the real life epitaph of Varius Geminus Q..

67 Cf. how Propertius' triumphant dedication to Venus in 2.14.27–8 (an initial poem in Book 2b) may trump the wearied resignation of Tibullus' in 1.9.83–4 (closural in TibuUus: see n. 69).

68 For example, the parity of Elegy with Epic as a commemorative medium. Two elegiac verses (lines 35–6) or, if one chooses to see it another way, this elegy itself, commemorate Propertius' tomb (and funeral); the hugely spectacular but, arguably, in Propertius' view no more effective Od.24.43–94 commemorate Achilles' funeral and tomb. Another interesting idea is to be found in Heyworth's Mnemosynepaper (n. 2), 55: he suggests some allusive play with Cynthia Polyxena. Propertius' inclusion of cruentacertainly encourages such a line of thinking (cf. Enk ad loc.).

69 Cf. above p. 525 on the structure of Tibullus Book 1. Some more detail on Tibullan structure and on Delia's appearances. Delia was programmatically presented in 1.1, as discussed above, but without development. Her exclusion of the lover-poet precipitates the laments, reflections, and other characters of 1.2. She plays a quite large part in 1.3, but no part in 1.4, a poem concerned with homosexual love, at the end of which the name Marathus surfaces. Then come the revelations of the closural 1.5. 1.6, the introductory poem of the second half of the book, leads with Delia, and exploits her in that poem, but mainly as a vehicle for other characters, novel ideas, and situations. And then, surprisingly, she appears no more. 1.6, if read programmatically (cf. above n. 28), tricks one; novelty is in store. 1.7 is devoted to Messalla; the boy whose name surfaced at the end of 1.4dominates 1.8 and 1.9; 1.9 is then closural, but of this homosexual love affair (haec ego dicebam29, canebam47ff., the concluding dedication to Venus resolutus amore Tibullus,Murgatroyd [n. 1], p. 256 on 1.9 and ‘end of affair’ poems); and 1.10 is phrased generally.

70 Murgatroy (n. 1), p. 7. Cf. Wimmel (n. 20), p. 107

71 Courtney, E., The Fragmentary Latin Poets(Oxford, 1993), p. 262

72 It is an interesting fact that Propertius does not name, does not feel the need to name, Cynthia in the three opening programmatic poems (2.1–3), if these were the three opening poems of Book 2a (which seems plausible). Her first naming in the transmitted Book 2 is in 2.5.1. Her fame speaks for itself? We should infer Cynthia from her Cynthian attributes in 2.1?

73 Propertius here trumps Tibullus' Delian girl, and at the same time asserts contact with, but a witty difference from Callimachus, whom Apollo set on the right road, and to whom Calliope and the other Muses revealed the first two books of the Aetia(fr. 1.22E, 7.22ff., cf.Cameron, A., Callimachus and his Critics[Princeton, 1995], pp. 107–8).

74 From other passages we gain the guarded information that she is formosa(1.1.55), and has long hair (1.3.91); and besides 1.5.43–6, the passage to which I attend here, there is line 66 mentioned below referring to a niueus pes.Of course we do not expect the romantic love poets often to attempt to describe the indescribable (Lyne [n. 21], pp. 262–4); but when they do attempt it, we expect them to do so with extreme care; and other love poets, aware of the difficulties, will read with professional and challenged interest.

75 This reading, printed by Luck, is arguably superior to the uerbisof the main manuscript tradition, not least because (an interesting fact) Delia is not much given to words in any context very unlike Cynthia. In his apparatus Luck compares 1.8.17, Prop. 3.6.25.

76 Cf. Murgatroyd ad loc.

77 Lee translates caerula‘blue-eyed’; Murgatroyd has a useful note on the adjective.

78 La Penna ([n. 1], 1950), 234, observes interestingly that Prop. 2.2.1 echoes (but he would notsay alludes to) Tib. 1.5. If: 2.2. If. Liber eram et.. J at,1.5. If. Asper eram et...1 at.An opening poem in Propertius 2a alludes to a closural poem in Tibullus 1 (first half).

79 Dulichiasis suspect. Why should Athene stride to altars in Dulichium? Dulichium is one of the distinct group of four islands in the Odysseywhich include Ithaca: Ithaca, Dulichium, Same, and Zacynthos: Od.1.246f., 9.24,16.123E, etc. Dulichium is where the suitor Amphinomus came from in Homer. At 2.14.4 Prop, seems to identify the litora Dulichiaewith Ithaca, and this is perhaps sufficient to justify the reading in 2.2.7 (Athene had, of course, a special affection for Odysseus). Goold adopts Heinsius' Munychias,which would signify Athenian': cf. Ov. Met.2.709 where Mercury flies over Munychios... agros gratamque Mineruae... humum.The transmitted cumis replaced with ceubyBaehrens, followed by Goold; I think that Camps' note (quoted in part below, n. 85) is here useful, and I would retain cum.

80 The reference is, of course, to the Judgement of Paris. Either we infer a reference to Venus, to complete the trio Juno (6), Athena (7f.), and Venus, or we assume that a Venus couplet has dropped out and radically but attractively we can also transpose the mythical but mortal comparisons transmitted in lines 9–12 to follow 2.29.28 (surely some myths have indeed dropped out from 2.29, as comparison with 1.3 shows). This whole package is Housman's solution, followed by Goold. It would, I suppose, be a possible option to supply a Venus couplet and retain the mortal comparisons 9–12.

81 Propertius unexpectedly reverts to Cynthia's facies in the last couplet of 2.2 (cf. Lyne [n. 21], pp. 97–8).

82 Contrast the disfavoured girl of Catullus 43.3 nee longis digitis.

83 Since fair hair was not actually common among Greeks or Romans, but was on the other hand quite conventionally heroic (the of Achilles Il. 1.197,I13.284,Il 11.740, etc. Pease on Verg. Aen.4.590), it was admired by Romans and Greeks, and occurrences were multiplied with the aid of imagination and other artifices. Murgatroyd in his note on Tib. 1.5.43–4, commenting on Delia's flauae comae,remarks on the popularity of fair hair among the Elegists' mistresses. But he includes here, without further comment, Prop. 2.2.5. This misses an important nuance. Latin colour terms are of course notoriously difficult to pin down, but I would hazard the following. There is not, I think, on the one hand, very much denotative difference between flauus and fuluus:note among the passages cited below how chrysolite, aweofulgore tralucentesfor Plin. N.H. 37.126, is flauusfor Prop, and gold is fuluusfor Tib; cf. further Aul. Gell. 2.26.8, 11–12, and Andre, J., Etude sur les termes de couleur dans la langue Latine(Paris, 1949), pp. 128–32 on flauusand cognates, pp. 132–35 on fuluus.But, on the other hand, there is a difference between the two in habits of usage, a difference therefore of connotation, (i) Flauusand cognates are common of the admired and imagined fair hair: see the passages quoted by Murgatroyd on Tib. 1.5.43–4, and TLL VI. 1.888.48–72 flauus‘de crinibus sim.’, and 72ff. of people, but with reference to their hair, 886.32–41 flaueosimilarly; note, for example, Catull. 66.62 of Berenice's hair; Verg. Georg.4.352 of Arethusa's caput; Aen.4.590,698 of Dido; Horace, Carm.1.5.4 of Pyrrha; and Ov. Am.2.4.43 seu flauent (capilli),where Ovid uses the common term as, significantly, he expresses his indifference to hair colour. By contrast (ii) fuluusis not commonly used of hair: TLL VI. 1.1535.44–50: Prop. 2.2.5 is the first of the few cited; the slightly eccentric note ofCarter, J. B.(Boston, 1900) cited by Goold (n. 4) ad loc. is in this respect on target. Propertius puts a wedge between Cynthia's hair, if only in diction. He selects a choice, not a common word, for fair hair in Cynthia's case. This is Propertius' only use of fuluusin any of his books, a significant and interesting fact: for him the word itself is choice. Meanwhile Tibullus uses flauusfour more times in Books 1 and 2, at 2.1.48 of the comaeof crops. Tibullus' epithet is not a choice word, not even for him. Propertius uses flauusat 2.16.44 of chrysolite, and at 4.4.20 of Tatius's horse's mane. The only thing that is fuluusin Tibullus, Book 1 is gold in his opening line; I suspect that this is relevant to Propertius' use; fuluusalso in Tib. 2.1.88 of sidera.(It will be remembered that there is talk of Cynthia's dyeing her hair in 2.18.27–8; but since I am not persuaded of the integrity of the piece of text that is marked 2.18c in Barber and Camps, and 2.18d in Goold, I cannot pronounce on what colour is involved.)

84 Cf. Horn. Od.5.217 and the passages collected by Heubeck-West-Hainsworth (Oxford, 1988), ad loc., but it is wrong to restrict the sense of ‘magnitude’, to height; Standford's note (London, 1961) on Od6.107–8 is here most useful. Heroically beautiful women were generously built, big ladies. Bacchylides' Hercules (5.168) asks the shade of Meleager in the Underworld if there is a sister of his whom he could marry ‘like you in stature’ (and there is of course: Deianeira); Hercules' taste would clearly not favour the Kate Moss type. This is not merely heroic taste: note the appearance of in Dicaearchus' list of favourable attributes among Theban women, below n. 88, but note too Miller's erroneous translation. Enk (n. 12) in his note on Prop. 2.2.5 similarly misunderstands what Propertius is saying (‘Antiqui admirabantur longas feminas...’ ).

85 The comparison is so compressed that Propertius effectively expresses identity between Cynthia and Juno, as my translation brings out; cf. Goold ‘and she walks worthy even of Jove, as his sister’. Shackleton Bailey, Propertiana(Cambridge, 1956), p. 64 has misplaced suspicion of the genuineness of the text, though ultimately he retains it. So much does Propertius suggest identity that Vergil can echo the line in a speech by Juno herself: Aen.1.46–7 ast ego, quae divwn incedo regina Iouisquel et soror et coniunx.Camps underestimates the implication of identity, but unpacks the line well, and his comment on the syntax is useful (‘the word digna[especially] compensates the absence of a comparative conjunction; in the following line 7 the syntax continues as if such a conjunction were felt to have been already introduced’).

86 When Housman composed a Venus couplet exempli gratia(printed in Goold's text), he built it round ponit uestigia.

87 Contrast the disfavoured girl of Catullus 43.2 nee bello pede;Tibullus in 1.5.66 implies or states Delia's pesto be niueus.

88 Interesting passages on attractiveness of female gait are collected by Shackleton Bailey (n. 85), p. 89 in his note on 2.12.24. Note too Dicaearchus of Messana praising Theban women (text in Muller, C., Fragmenta Historicorum Graecorum,vol.II [Paris, 1848], p. 259 or Geographi Graeci Minoresvol. I [Paris, 1855,], p. 103)‘their women, in magnitude, gait, and concinnity, are the most graceful and comely of women in Greece.’ Muller's translation of the key nouns is proceritate, incessu, corporis concimitate.The first of these is wrong (see n. 84 above), the second and third interesting a n d probably right. The way a woman walked {incessus)could be not just attractive, but inappropriately tarty: Cic. Cael.49 on Clodia, Sen. Contr. 2.1 A(2.7.3–4 give a n interesting if tendentious view of how a modest matronashould conduct herself in public.)

89 Cf. too the phrasing of Juno in Aen.1.46–7 quoted above n. 85, also 5.649. At Horn. Il. 13.71–2 Ajax, son of Oileus, says that he recognized Poseidon thus: ‘I recognized easily from behind as he went away the of his feet and legs.’ As Leaf, says can hardly here have its normal sense of footprints; ‘movement’ would make good sense such good sense that a variant reading arose. It may be that Vergil read or interpretedas movement; likewise Propertius, and perhaps a host of intervening writers.

90 For Thetis' dolphin transport, Murgatroyd compares Ov. Met. 11.236f. and Val. Flacc. 1.131ff. and conjectures a Hellenistic source. This is surely right. Strong corroboration comes from Moschus, Europa 117f. where we find the Nereids riding on the backs of unspecified sea-creatures in the company of a specified dolphin

91 Cf. Moschus cited in the previous note, Catullus 64.1ff., Verg. Georg.4.388–9.

92 See n. 80 above.

93 Transposition of 11–12 to follow 16, proposed by Housman and accepted by Goold, is wrong. The red-lead and snow, roses and milk comparisons are more naturally prompted by reference to Cynthia's complexion, even if in the narrative only one colour (Candida)in her complexion is specifically mentioned, than by a reference to a girl in a silk garment. For girls' complexions giving rise to red and white similes, cf. Catull. 61.187 with Fordyce ad loc.; cf. too esp. Prop. 3.24.7–8 where Cynthia's false candorprompted Propertius to comparisons with rosy dawn; and Verg. Aen.12.68–9 seems to me a clear echo and confirmation of our transmitted text. Transposition also spoils Propertius' rhetoric, especially his rhetorical interchange with Tibullus. It is the fadesof Cynthia that is important, that is an attraction a better fadesthan Delia's though it is not now for Propertius (in 2.3) the main attraction; so it merits much stylistic attention. The bombyxdress, by contrast, is emphatically unimportant, dismissed in the line non sum de nihilo blandus amator egoand by the non-specific attribution si qua:it hardly merits a couple of similes. (It will also be seen that I am happy with the text si qua Arabio,replaced with si quando Arabo[Pucci and Garrod] by Goold; cf. further below.)

94 I adopt this attractive conjecture (Butrica following Beroaldus), but without conviction of its certainty.

95 The translation of the parenthesis is Goold's, who has taken blanduswith de nihilo,as Rothstein advises. I remain uncertain about this.

96 I have taken parto be nominative; Goold and others take it as an accusative object of ludere

97 For Aganippe, one of the springs of inspiration on Callimachus' Helicon, Mt., see Aetiafr. 2A.16 with Pfeiffer ad loc. and on line 30, comparing Cat. 61.28ff. and Verg. Eel.10.12; note too PfeifTer on fr. 696.

98 On the text, see n. 93 above.

99 He does not now, if the transmitted text is right (cf. n. 93), even tie this particular attraction to Cynthia (si qua); and it merits a line of outright disdain, non sum de nihilo... In the past in Cynthia's case, finery of dress, though not bombyx itself, was disapproved in 1.2, admired in 2.1. Such finery does not explicitly characterize Delia anywhere, so it does not look as if she is the butt here. I suspect Propertius glances here at another poet-lover, who had a taste for sensuously dressed women. Perhaps, in view of what is said about 43–4, Cornelius Gallus.

100 So Camps and Enk; oddly Rothstein takes digna faciesas a predicate and supplies Cynthia as subject. I infer from Goold's translation that he takes faciesas belonging to Helen. The text admits some (profitable) ambiguity. It is certainly possible to take the couplet as referring to Helen; but then we refer it to the second Helen. For the ‘actualizing indicative’ involved in referring u 7 to Cynthia's face, see Hor. Carm. 2.17.28 with Nisbet and Hubbard ad loc.

101 Cinna fr. 6 Courtney, Cat. 62.35, and see Ciris352 with Lyne ad loc.

102 Camps on Prop. 2.3.43.

103 Cf. Boucher, J.-P, Caius Cornelius Gallus(Paris, 1966), p. 98andRoss, D.O., Backgrounds to Augustan Poetry(Cambridge,1975), p. 118 who (surely rightly) see Gallus echoed not only in Ov. Am. 1.15.29f. and Prop. 2.3.43f., but in Ov. Ars 3.537 Vesper et Eoae nouere Lycorida terrae(reference misprinted as 527 in Boucher).

1 Parallels between the two poets have of course been extensively noted: as well as the bibliography cited from time to time below (especially F. Jacoby, ‘Tibulls erste Elegie’, RhM 64 [1909], 601–22 and 65[1910], 22, 50–1; the apparatus of Lenz F. W.and Galinsky G. C. Albii Tibulli Aliorumque Carminum Libri Tres (3rd edn, Leiden, 1971 Enk E J.Sex. Propertii Elegiarum Liber Secundus vol. I(Leiden, 1962), pp. 34–45; Penna A. La, ‘Properzio e i poeti latini dell’ eta aurea', Maia 31950), 209–36, 4(1951), 43–69, esp. (1950),233–6, discussion of Propertius-Tibullus, and (1951), 56–9, an appendix listing some Propertius-Tibullus parallels. But scholars underestimate or miss entirely the fact that the two poets are in amusing dialogue, delivering ripostes: e.g. Enk on p. 44: ‘Si quis rogat, num Propertius e lectis elegiis Tibulli fructum ceperit, cum librum secundum scriberet, respondendum est cum viro docto D'Elia... “Si pud concludere, che gli incontri, certo interessanti, sono puramente superficiali“’; cf. the summary of La Penna (1950), pp. 235–6 and (1951), p. 55. There are exceptions to this kind of misappreciation. F. Solmsen, ‘Propertius in his literary relations with Tibullus and Vergil’, Philologus 105 (1961), 273ff. = Kleine Schriften II.299ff. is a very notable one; – Hubbard argues that Tibullus' Elysium in 1.3 supplies Prop. 4.7.59ff.; Griffin J., Latin Poets and Roman Life (London, 1985), pp. 151–2 sees a relation between the heroines in the Underworld of Prop. 1.19.13–16 and Tib. 1.3.57fT., reckoning that influence between the two, in either direction, is a possibility’ (a Tibullan relation to Prop. 1.19 is discussed below); further important information and acute comment in Griffin, pp. 144ff. There are, of course, many links between the two poets which I shall not be discussing in this paper, even between Tibullus Book 1 and Propertius ‘Book 2’, the books to which this paper attends.

Propertius and Tibullus: early exchanges1

  • R. O. A. M. Lyne (a1)


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed.