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Title: Solitude and Imagination: Cicero, Virgil, Horace, Propertius
Authors: Kachuck, Aaron
Advisors: Feeney, Denis
Contributors: Classics Department
Keywords: Cicero
Subjects: Classical literature
Comparative literature
Issue Date: 2015
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: Solitude and Imagination: Cicero, Virgil, Horace, Propertius, argues that solitude—as gesture, posture, and provocation—was central to how writers of the late Roman Republic and early Principate characterized the purpose of literary work, and addressed the relationship of art to society, pleasure to utility, poetry to politics, and private meditations to the theater of public life. Evolving representations of solitude interacted, this thesis shows, with contemporary changes in the world of politics, in the material conditions of the book-trade, and in the social status of the poet. But literature was also a force that helped authors problematize social values, uses, and contexts, and in ways that the sociological turn of classical literary criticism has underemphasized. Building on the recent aesthetic turn in classical scholarship, and what has been called the affective turn in literary studies, this thesis demonstrates that the particular character of literature in Rome's "Cultural Revolution" is better appraised by moving interpretation from the vocabulary of strategy, craft, and design, and towards a more sustained engagement with the language, and implications, of struggle, confusion, and mood. In doing so, this thesis critiques common models of literary periodization, re-analyzes the relationship between Roman literature and its social contexts, and challenges large-scale European intellectual histories of individuality, subjectivity, and private life. In sum, this thesis, in arguing that reading for solitude means learning new ways of reading, presents an innovative, richly contextualized, and insistently internalist, reading of literature in the ages of Cicero and Virgil, and suggests new models for the interpretation of classical and pre-modern literature in the classical tradition more broadly. After a conceptual introduction to solitude as literary theme, philosophical dialectic, and historiographic problem, this thesis presents in-depth case studies organized by author. The first looks to late rhetorical and philosophical treatises of Cicero (esp. Brutus, Orator, De Amicitia), and the following three chapters present new interpretations of the total oeuvres of Virgil, Horace, and Propertius. The epilogue looks at solitude and imagination from the perspective of the reader in classical and late antiquity.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Classics

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