“Now I Have Forgotten All My Verses.” Social Memory in the Eclogues of Virgil and Calpurnius Siculus
Number of pages
SourceLanguage and Literary Studies of Warsaw, 3, (2013), pp. 13-28
Article / Letter to editor
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Nederlandse Taal en Cultuur
Language and Literary Studies of Warsaw
This paper examines the use of social memory in the pastoral poetry of Virgil and Calpurnius Siculus. A comparison of the references to Rome’s social memory in both these works points to a development of this phenomenon in Latin bucolic poetry. Whereas Virgil’s Eclogues express a genuine anxiety with the preservation of Rome’s ancient customs and traditions in times of political turbulence, Calpurnius Siculus’s poems address issues of a different kind with the use of references to social memory. Virgil’s shepherds see their pastoral community disseminating: they start forgetting their lays or misremembering verses, indicating the author’s concern with Rome’s social memory and, thereby, with the prosperity and stability of the Res Publica. Calpurnius Siculus, on the other hand, has his herdsmen strive for the emperor’s patronage and a literary career in the big city, bored as they are by the countryside. They desire a larger, more cohesive and active urban community in which they and their songs will receive the acclaim they deserve and consequently live on in Rome’s social memory. Calpurnius Siculus’s poems are, however, in contrast to Virgil’s, no longer concerned with social memory in itself.
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