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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Propertius’ use of myth in 1.20 Rae, A. Lyn


The purpose of this thesis is to attempt to demonstrate the function of the Hylas myth in Propertius 1.20. The first chapter consists of a text and translation of the poem. Chapter 2 introduces the question of the role of mythological exempla in Propertius' poetry. It is found that while scholars recognize the relevance and importance of mythological material in other elegies they deny that the Hylas tale bears more than a superficial relevance to its context. Chapter 3 considers the poetry of the Monobiblos, to which 1.20 belongs. Three elegies are analysed so as to illustrate Propertius' purpose and methods in adducing mythological material in his poems. It is concluded from these analyses that mythological exempla not only illustrate the poet's portrayal of contemporary figures and situations but also contribute new elements that suggest or develop aspects of his theme not otherwise made explicit. Four general means by which Propertius adapts traditional mythology for his own purposes are noted. A study of 1.20, to which Chapter 4 is devoted, begins with a brief discussion of the Hylas myth as it was known in Propertius' day. Texts of Apollonius Rhodius' and Theocritus' versions of the tale, the two most important extant literary accounts, and several illustrations of the myth in art are provided. The main component of the chapter, however, is an analysis of 1.20 that attempts to reveal the skilful manner in which Propertius narrates the tale of Hylas, adapting traditional material with a purpose and method similar to that observed in his other elegies, and presenting it as a relevant and integral part of his portrayal of the contemporary figures and situation with which the poem is concerned. There follow an appendix and a bibliography.

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