University of Tasmania
whole_DevineAngelaMargaret1978_thesis.pdf (17.23 MB)

A study of the aristocratic ideal and the theme of moral decline in Latin love elegy.

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posted on 2023-05-26, 23:59 authored by Devine, A. M.(Angela Margaret)
The thesis argues that the love elegists show an original approach to the aristocratic ideal of service to the state and, more specifically, towards the subject of moral decline. in the first chapter the aristocratic ideal and the traditional version of moral decline are outlined from the epigraphic and literary evidence of pre-Augustan times. It is concluded that the aristocratic ideal centred on service to the state through the public career and that the traditional concept of moral decline involved dereliction of duty towards the state. A more detailed analysis of this traditional concert based on the study of moral terminology in the works of Sallust and Livy is included in the form of an appendix. It is strongly recommended that this be read immediately after chapter one. In chapter two there is an examination of the terminology used by the love elegists to describe the past, the ideal society and the causes and symptoms of moral decline. Their treatment of specific vices and virtues mentioned by the historians is also discussed and some comment is made on the different usage of moral terminology in the two genres. On the basis of this it is suggested that the love elegists significantly re-shape traditional aristocratic moral concepts, particularlv concerning moral decline. Next the treatment of the ideal society and the past is discussed in more depth. Chapter three shows how the love elegists reject the traditional aristocratic view of the ideal society as an austere and warlike community living in early Rome, replacing this with assorted Utopias of their own, both past and present. It is argued that they select many details from the traditional version of the past, but re-share them both for humorous effect and, more seriously, in protest , against war. In chapter four the love elegists' treatment of private morality is explored. It is shown that, in spite of occasional signs of sympathy for the aristocratic moral code (found mainly in the works of Propertius), the love elegists borrow extensively from Roman comedy and generally make fun of the aristocratic ideal and the traditional concept of private moral decline. The public career, which lies at the heart of the aristocratic ideal, is discussed in chapter five. Here it is suggested that, with rare exceptions, the love elegists approach the subject of the public career in a spirit either of antagonism or humour, which reflects their opposition to the aristocratic ideal. Finally, it is argued in chapter six that the subjects of the aristocratic ideal and moral decline have a variety of literary functions in love elegy. It is concluded that the most important of these are their functions as vehicles for humour and protest. It is here that the real novelty of their treatment lies.


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Copyright 1978 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s). Thesis (Ph.D.) - University of Tasmania, 1978. Bibliography: l. 383-404

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