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Re-reading Propertius’ Arethusa

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Abstract This article argues that in poem 4.3, Propertius depicts Arethusa not as a citizen wife, but as a concubine or an elegiac courtesan under exclusive contract to Lycotas. The Roman lexicon of marriage was frequently used to describe relationships other than iustum coniugium, especially in love elegy. That is the situation presented in Propertius 4.3. Arethusa’s anxieties are primarily sexual, and thus identify her as something new in elegy: not a wife but a faithful puella. This poem gives us the poetic voice of a loving, loyal, contracted courtesan.

Affiliations: 1: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Department of Classics Campus Box 3145, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3145 USA sljames@email.unc.edu

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2012-01-01
2016-12-09

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