The Roman poet Propertius is best known as the writer who perfected the Latin love elegy, a technical as much as a psychological and cultural feat. Propertius has been admired for both his metrical genius and the modernity of his narrative flow.
Many of the poems here pay tribute to Cynthia, Propertius’s romantic obsession, but the scope of these 107 elegies is broad. Propertius’s poetry offers a fascinating look into life in the Augustan age, addressing social, political, and historical subjects. A contemporary of Virgil and Horace, Propertius has influenced scores of poets — from Ovid to Housman to Pound.
His poetry appears here for the first time in a dual-language edition with the translations facing the original Latin. Rendered into English by a poet who is also one of the nation’s pre-eminent Propertius experts, the volume brings Propertius’s difficult mix of vernacular and high literary allusion into contemporary language.
Cynthia was the first. She caught me with her eyes, a fool
who had never before been touched by desires.
Love cast down my look of constant pride,
and he pressed on my head with his feet,
until he taught me to despise chaste girls,
perversely, and to live without plan.
Already, it’s been a whole year that the frenzy hasn’t stopped,
when, for all that, the gods are against me.
Awards and Recognition
- Winner of the 2005 National Translation Award, American Literary Translators Association