Sunday, January 9, 2022

Amazons Can Fight, Why Can't I? Propertius IV.4.43-50

 In this poem, the poet Propertius takes on the persona of Arethusa while she laments the absence of her absent husband Lycotas. Once again Propertius makes a stark contrast between gender roles for Roman women and women from other cultures.

Felix Hippolyte! Nuda tulit arma papilla
    et texit galea barbara molle caput.
Romanis utinam patuissent castra puellis!
    Essem militiae sarcina fida tuae,
Nec me tardarent Scythiae iuga, cum Pater altas
    Africus in glaciem frigore nectit aquas.
Omnis amor magnus, sed aperto in coniuge maior:
    hanc Venus, ut vivat, ventilat ipsa facem.

--Propertius, El. IV.3.43-50

Blessed Hippolyte! With naked breast she took up arms and covered her pretty little face with a barbaric helmet.

If only Romans allowed women to fight!

I would be a faithful follower of your camp; I wouldn’t be discouraged by the Scythian mountains, where the south wind freezes the water into ice.

All love is great, but it is even more potent in a spouse;

Venus herself nourishes this flame with her breath.



Name:  Sextus Propertius

Date:  50 – 15 BCE

Works:  Elegies



Region 1: Peninsular Italy; Region 2: Western Europe; Region 3: Western Coast of Africa; Region 4: Egypt and Eastern Mediterranean; Region 5: Greece and the Balkans



 Propertius was an Italian-born Roman lyric poet whose love poetry provides insight into the mores of Augustan Rome. Like Catullus and Tibullus, Propertius used a pseudonym for the object of his attention; many of his love poems were addressed to “Cynthia.”


Early Roman Lit: through 2nd c BCE: Republican Rome: through 1st c. BCE; Golden Age: 70 BCE to 18 CE; Silver Age: 18 CE to 150 CE; Age of Conflict: 150 CE - 410 CE; Byzantine and Late Latin: after 410 CE


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