Leaving Rome: Alienation from and Attachment to the City in Augustan Literature
MetadataShow full item record
Leaving Rome: Alienation from and Attachment to the City in Augustan Literature explores how Roman authors of the Augustan period write about leaving Rome as a way of discussing different levels of attachment to the city. Because the city of Rome holds a particularly important place in the ancient Roman imagination, leaving it is always fraught for the Romans. The Augustan period is especially apt for my study because it features great changes both in Rome's urban landscape and its political and cultural environment. The Augustan age brought about a new cohesive vision of Rome and its physical space which did not exist in the republican period and profoundly impacted how the Romans perceived their city and their connection to it. My dissertation investigates episodes in Horace, Propertius, Tibullus, Ovid, and Livy which discuss departure, absence, or alienation from Rome in order to reveal how Latin literature of this period reflects this complex connection and responds to these great changes in the city. A major focus of my dissertation is on the diversity of perspectives on the city and departure from it in these texts. In Ovid's exile poetry, despair and alienation from the city occur as a result of exile. In Livy, upheaval in Rome leads to characters being exiled or feeling that they no longer belong to their city and must abandon it. Propertius characterizes absence from Rome as a hindrance to love and elegiac poetry. In these authors, leaving Rome causes despair and loss of personal or poetic identity. By contrast, Horace and Tibullus' texts feature rejection of the city in favor of life in the country and express relief at being away from the city. Each of these texts thus reveals a unique outlook on the city and the shared experience of departure from Rome. One relevant body of secondary literature is the study of exile in Latin literature, which currently comprises most of the scholarly discussion of Romans leaving Rome. Claassen, Gaertner, and other scholars who have written about exile in Latin literature have focused on texts written by authors who were themselves exiled, including Cicero, Ovid, and Seneca. I expand on these studies by discussing exile in Livy, who was not exiled himself, but wrote about the exile of important figures such as Camillus and Coriolanus. My project also goes beyond the current scope of exile studies by examining willing departures from Rome, thereby providing a wider variety of perspectives on detachment from the city. Because my study raises questions of migration, travel, and how people perceive the place they call home, modern theories of space, place, and landscape (see Cosgrove, Gregory, Schama, de Certeau, Williams, et al.) serve as a lens through which to consider the ancient sources. This is an expanding area of research both within Classics and in the social sciences and Geography. Much of this research focuses on the relationship between culture and space, including how space creates identity and memory and how people and authors appropriate and engage with their physical surroundings. Work of this kind, including studies of how Roman authors use Roman space to create meaning in their work (see Edwards, Jaeger, Welch, Vasaly, et al.), has tended to emphasize how people engage with spaces to which they belong or in which they are present. My dissertation contributes to this work by considering how people engage with spaces when alienated or absent from them. As others have examined how connection to a place creates identity and memory, my project studies how absence and alienation from a place destroy or modify identity and memory. These questions look beyond the immediate field of Classics and therefore make my dissertation interdisciplinary. The dissertation is organized into four chapters arranged by genre and divided into two parts: Part I: Present Departures and Part II: Past Departures. Part I includes Chapter 1 on Horace's Satires and Chapters 2-3 on the love poetry of Tibullus and Propertius and the exile poetry of Ovid, while Part II includes Chapter 4 on Livy's first decade. The texts in Chapters 1-3 provide examples of contemporary departures in the first person, while Chapter 4 examines more remote third person departures by famous figures from the Roman past. The final section of the dissertation, entitled, "Epilogue: Future Departures," serves as a conclusion and looks forward to further work on the topic by briefly considering alienation and departure from Rome in the imperial period in Juvenal's third satire.