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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Bacchus in Latin love-elegy Sandilands, Joan Ruth


The aim of this thesis is, by means of a close examination of the evidence presented by the texts, to analyse the ways in which Tibullus, Propertius and Ovid treat the god Bacchus and, by so doing, to discover why Bacchus becomes for them a patron of poetry. Chapter I, the introduction, deals briefly with the literary background and sets the limits of the study. Chapters II, III and IV analyse the appearances of the god in the poetry of Tibullus, Propertius and Ovid respectively: the Tibullan Bacchus is primarily a patron of viticulture and is associated with poetry and Amor because of this basic role; Propertius is more concerned with the god's relationship with Ariadne and the Maenads and develops a complex exemplum for his affair with Cynthia using these as major characters; Ovid makes frequent use of ideas concerning Bacchus developed by the other two poets but adds nothing really new to the concept of the god as patron of poetry. Chapter V, the conclusion, summarizes the findings of these three chapters and on the basis of this information, first, makes a general statement about the use of myth in each of the three poets and, second, answers the original question: Tibullus, Propertius and Ovid are personally involved in their poetry, not only as poets but also as lovers; thus Bacchus, because of his relationship with Ariadne and the Maenads, because of his powerful and avenging nature and because of his ability (through wine) to free them from the pain of an unhappy love affair, is their special patron. An appendix dealing with Bacchic iconography in Latin love-elegy is added.

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