Propertius 1.21

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Read by Professor Kathleen Coleman

Professor of Classics, Harvard University

(July 14, 1997. Boylston Recording Studios.

Jeff Martini, audio engineer.)




Propertius 1.21

Some notes by Kathleen Coleman
Line 1 'Tu': The speaker, the deceased 'Gallus' referred to in line 7, is addressing a fellow-soldier who escaped from the siege of Perusia (modern Perugia) during the battle between Octavian (later Augustus) and L. Antonius (Mark Antony's brother) in 41 BC. The address to a passer-by is a typical format for a tomb-inscription, exploiting the pathos (as at the end of this poem) whereby the deceased reveals his (or her) own identity to posterity.

Line 6
'soror': The text here is corrupt, but it appears that 'Gallus' is asking his companion to take a message home to his sister to tell her of his death.

Line 6 'Caesaris': As Julius Caesar's adopted son, Octavian took his adoptive parent's name and was formally known as 'C. Iulius Caesar Octauianus'. He avoided the 'Octauianus' that betrayed his origins; hence, significantly, Propertius here refers to him by his preferred name of 'Caesar'.