Date of Degree

6-2022

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Program

Classics

Advisor

David Petrain

Committee Members

Philip Thibodeau

Liv Mariah Yarrow

Subject Categories

Classical Literature and Philology

Keywords

Tibullus, elegy, Roman economy, literary theory

Abstract

This dissertation argues that attention to economic anxieties in Tibullus’ elegies is crucial to understanding his corpus. Concerns about agricultural production, globalized trade, and institutional power recur throughout the elegies. An appreciation of economic desire may not only produce a fruitful reading of Tibullus’ poetry, but also help to answer some of the questions suggested by elegy’s socio-historical framework. This project relies methodologically on both economic analysis and a Lacanian psychoanalytic framework. Additionally, each chapter explores a different facet of religious experience in the elegies: the myth of the Golden Age, prayers to the goddess Ceres, and references to the Lares, Penates, and Pales. Close examination of these religious passages lays bare the role of economic anxieties in motivating prayers and sacrifices. The conclusion draws attention to larger patterns of exchange that underlie economic activity, religious ritual, and human relationships.

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