Of all the Greek and Latin love poets, Propertius (c. 50-10 BC) is one of those who perhaps holds most immediate appeal for the twentieth century reader. His helpless infatuation for the sinister figure of his mistress Cynthia forms the main subject of his poetry, and is analysed with a tormented but witty grandeur in all its changing moods - from ecstasy to suicidal despair. The son of an Umbrian landowner who fought on the wrong side in the Civil War after Caesar's murder, he lost his father and most of the family estate in boyhood and was brought up by his mother. He was able nevertheless to reject a legal or military career and to devote his life to the art of poetry, in which he is a far more self-conscious practitioner than most of the other Latin poets. His modern popularity was furthered in particular by Ezra Pound's Homage to Sextus Propertius (1919).
Publisher: Oxford University Press