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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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Metapoetics in the Prefaces of Claudian’s De raptu Proserpinae

Metapoetics in the Prefaces of Claudian’s De raptu Proserpinae

(p.236) 7 Metapoetics in the Prefaces of Claudian’s De raptu Proserpinae
The Poetics of Late Latin Literature

Stephen Harrison

Oxford University Press

Both extant prefaces to De raptu Proserpinae are rich in allusion and metapoetical symbolism. The chapter suggests that the symbolic ship of poetry in the preface to De raptu 1, which represents a transition from encomiastic poems to traditional mythological narrative, marks an upward progression through the hexameter genres in the manner of Vergil and alludes in detail to similar Augustan and earlier metapoetical contexts. The reference to geographical locations linked with Homer suggests the Homeric ambition of the De raptu in both form and content. Similarly, the evocation of Orpheus in De raptu 2’s preface is integral to the poem’s plot rather than an alien insertion; presenting the poet’s self-characterization, it has clear links with the performance of prose rhetoric in the Roman Empire. Claudian’s poems play a full part in the revival of poetics in Late Antiquity and their metatextual and intertextual perspectives.

Keywords:   Claudian, De raptu Proserpinae, metapoetry, nautical imagery, Orpheus, poetic genre, preface

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