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The Poetics of Late Latin Literature$
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Jas' Elsner and Jesús Hernández Lobato

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780199355631

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199355631.001.0001

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The Lies the Poets Tell

The Lies the Poets Tell

Poetry in Prose Panegyrics

(p.345) 11 The Lies the Poets Tell
The Poetics of Late Latin Literature

Catherine Ware

Oxford University Press

Phrases such as fabulae poetarum and licentia poetarum, the inventions or licence of poets, are a trope of late antique encomium that occurs in prose and poetic panegyric. This chapter examines the trope as an introduction to the complex and interdependent relationship of panegyric and poetry. Accepted as a figure of hyperbole, the theme could be ludic, even paradoxical; a critical reference to poetic licence could allow the orator to manipulate his own “facts” and introduce the persuasion of poetry into prose. Alternatively, disparagement of fabulae poetarum could introduce real criticism of the role of poetry in imperial encomium, as by offering unworthy comparisons for the emperor, poetry could be seen to subvert panegyric. Finally, the chapter considers the trope in verse encomia and argues that when writing as panegyrists, poets and orators alike had very definite expectations of the role of poetry in praise.

Keywords:   Claudian, imperial praise, panegyric, Panegyrici Latini, poetic invention

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