Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The Poet's Tomb: Space for Immortality in Augustan Rome
by Crooks, Stephanie Marie, Ph.D., New York University, 2019, 235; 13811244
Abstract (Summary)

This project traces the development and reception of the idea that a funerary monument could function as the physical instantiation of a poet’s work in the event that his words no longer fly per ora virum. Death, tombs and funerary rites are central aspects of elegiac poetry from the late Republican and early imperial periods, and yet, past scholarship on Roman elegy has attributed the elegists’ preoccupation with death, and the imagining of their own burial rites to their abiding concern with sex and love. Through the course of my dissertation, I recalibrate this elegiac “tomb-trope,” suggesting that the poet’s grave used by Vergil and the elegists is due to a specific moment in history: it is during the late years of the Republic that philosophy, politics and burial practices converge, making it possible for a poet to ensure an eternal memory for himself through his tomb. To prove this claim, I analyze textual exempla, in which the poet imagines his own gravesite, alongside of contemporary philosophical ideas about death and commemoration, actual burial practices occurring at the turn of the 1st c. BCE-CE, and earlier notions about poetic immortality displayed in Hellenistic poetry. From this evidence I conclude that the combination of poetic text and funerary monument functions as the best insurer of lasting poetic legacy during Rome’s transition from Republic to Empire.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Barchiesi, Alessandro
Commitee: Connolly, Joy, Levene, David, Konstan, David, Peirano Garrison, Irene
School: New York University
Department: Classics
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 81/5(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Classical studies, Classical Studies
Keywords: Augustus, Commemoration, Immortality, Inscriptions, Roman Elegy, Tombs
Publication Number: 13811244
ISBN: 9781392791363
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