Sextus Propertius

(3136 words)
  • Philip Purchase (Washington University St. Louis)

Sextus Propertius is a Roman elegiac poet, who combines seductive evocation of a life devoted to love with self-conscious evaluation of the aesthetic, poetic and political effects of such devotion. He is writing in the tradition of Roman love poetry that includes Gallus (whose works have been lost), Tibullus and Ovid. (The text of Propertius that I translate here is that of the Oxford Classical Text edited by E.A. Barber, 1960.) The two strains combine to enact a virtual sourcebook of romantic obsession. While love is not his exclusive focus, the mistress he names Cynthia stands at the center of his passion over the first three books, and remains an insistent presence even beyond death in the fourth. (The standard division of Propertius�…

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Purchase, Philip. "Sextus Propertius". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 10 November 2007
[, accessed 25 September 2016.]