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Hercules and Augustus : Propertius 4.9: a political reading
thesisposted on 2023-05-26, 06:11 authored by Michael Berry
This thesis offers a political reading of Propertius 4.9 ‚Äö- Propertius' account of Hercules' arrival at the site of future Rome. Specifically, it argues that the ninth elegy in Propertius' fourth book provides a critique of Augustan propaganda surrounding the Battle of Actium (31 BC), the ensuing triple triumph (29 BC) and Augustus' later attempts at social, moral and poetic censorship. Central to the argument is the nature and extent of the relationship between Hercules and Augustus and Hercules' status as a paradigm for the princeps. Accordingly, the thesis begins with an investigation of this association, firstly, by examining the sources and, secondly, by analysing the affinity between 4.9 and the Aeneid ‚Äö- particularly the eighth book ‚Äö- where Hercules assumes such an exemplary role. Detailed readings of the elegy follow. The first word, Amphitryoniades, is examined closely as it sets the tone for the elegy as a whole and reaffirms Hercules' status as a model for Augustus. The first episode of the elegy ‚Äö- Hercules' conflict with Cacus ‚Äö- is then subjected to a close reading from the perspective that it functions as an allegorical representation of the Battle of Actium and, finally, Hercules' encounter with the worshippers of Bona Dea ‚Äö- the elegy's second episode ‚Äö- is given close attention. It is argued that this final episode offers a critique of Augustus' legislative reforms ‚Äö- namely the lex Iulia de maritandis ordinibus and the lex Iulia de adulteriis coercendis of 18 BC. The thesis thus reveals a hitherto overlooked critique of Augustus' rise to power and his attempts at social, moral and poetic censorship.
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