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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/26208

Title: Liberalitas in Late Republican and Early Augustan Roman Poetry
Authors: McMaster, Aven Sarah
Advisor: Dewar, Michael
Department: Classics
Keywords: Latin
Gift Exchange
Issue Date: 17-Feb-2011
Abstract: Liberalitas forms one of the central frameworks for defining social bonds within Roman society, and was part of how Roman poets constructed the world. This is most explicitly evident in the poets’ references to “patrons” and benefactors, but it extends much further. The poets worked within a broad framework of social conventions and expectations which must be understood in order to see how their poetry uses and responds to the concepts associated with liberalitas. Cicero’s de officiis and Seneca’s de beneficiis are therefore useful, as they offer idealised, prescriptive views of liberalitas in Roman society. Many scholars have investigated the relationships between poets and their patrons, including Peter White, Barbara Gold, James Zetzel, and Phebe Lowell Bowditch. I argue that any true understanding of the role of liberalitas in Roman poetry must also comprehend its importance in other areas. This dissertation focuses on the poetry of Catullus, Horace, Propertius, Tibullus, and Virgil in the Eclogues. The introduction addresses traditional liberalitas as defined by Cicero and Seneca in their works on benefits and duties. Chapter one illustrates how Catullus, Horace, and Tibullus display ideals similar to those of Cicero and Seneca and use the conventions of liberalitas for praising and blaming members of their social groups. Chapter two addresses the problems of status raised by liberalitas and investigates the strategies used by Catullus, Horace, Propertius, and Tibullus to mitigate these problems and further their social, literary, and aesthetic aims. Chapter three demonstrates how the love poets used and redefined the terminology and ideology of liberalitas to construct an obligation on the part of their beloveds to reciprocate the gifts given by the poets but reject the gifts given by rival lovers. Finally, Chapter four examines the role of liberalitas in formulating and expressing a poetic program in Virgil’s Eclogues, which points to its function in mediating the connection between ‘real-life’ political and social concerns and the literary preoccupations of Roman poets. The various applications of this concept demonstrated in these four chapters present the study of liberalitas as a useful and productive tool in the investigation of the poetry of this period.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/26208
Appears in Collections:Doctoral

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