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Poetry in the ‘Circle’ of Messalla

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 January 2009

Extract

Our views on literary patronage in the Augustan Age may be dominated to such an extent by the personality of Maecenas that other, contemporary, patrons are forgotten or, worse still, seen as pale reflections of the ‘ideal’ patron, Maecenas, and so best disregarded. Professor Ronald Syme, for example, in his notable chapter on Augustus' ‘Organization of Opinion’, writes that ‘Augustus’ chief of cabinet, Maecenas, captured the most promising of the poets at an early stage and nursed them into the Principate. Augustus himself listened to recitations with patience and even with benevolence. He insisted, however, that his praises should be sung only in serious efforts and by the best poets. The Princeps succeeded: other patrons of literature were left far behind.’ This article looks briefly at the work of those poets who were closely associated with one of these ‘other patrons’, M. Valerius Messalla Corvinus, and attempts to show that his patronage, and the poets' attitudes towards it, were essentially Republican in nature—a factor which should be kept in mind in making any comparison between Messalla's poets and those more directly concerned with the Princeps.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © The Classical Association 1973

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References

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page 25 note 2 It is a matter for speculation how the poems of the third book came to be collected together. Luck, G., The Latin Love Elegy (London, 1959), 95Google Scholar, cites the opinion of Lachmann, (Kleine Schriften, ii. 150 ff.)Google Scholar ‘that the Corpus Tibullianum was published from Messalla's “archives”, as a kind of document or memoir; the bad and the mediocre together with the good. This edition must have been made at a time when there was still some interest in Messalla and his circle.’ This third book was further subdivided by fifteenth-century scholars, the ‘Lygdamus’ elegies thereby forming in themselves the third book, and the remainder a fourth book, though there is no traditional authority for this subdivision.

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page 28 note 1 Appian, BC v. 102 f., 109, 112.

page 28 note 2 Cf. [Tibullus] iii. 7. 107 ff.

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page 35 note 2 Pont. i. 7. 28Google Scholar. I am much indebted to Mr. A. S. Hollis, Keble College, Oxford, and to Professor L. A. Moritz, University College, Cardiff, for advice and criticism at different stages in the preparation of the material contained in this article.