The Elegiac Puella as Virgin Martyr
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CitationUden, James. "The Elegiac Puella as Virgin Martyr." Transactions of the American Philological Association 139:207-222. 2009.
This paper explores the ideological currents running through Maximianus's subversive revival of the genre of Augustan love elegy in the beleaguered Rome of the mid-sixth century. The third elegy narrates an apparent childhood reminiscence of the poet, a failed romance with a young girl, Aquilina. But it soon becomes clear that, in the character of Aquilina, Maximianus has deliberately blurred the literary archetypes of the elegiac puella and the virgin martyr from Christian hagiography. This bizarre configuration allows the elegist simultaneously to provoke questions about the representation of female figures in both genres. By likening the elegiac puella to the martyr, Maximianus highlights the latent violence of elegiac topoi. By likening the martyr to the elegiac puella, Maximianus highlights the eroticism that often has a prominent place in accounts of virgin martyrdom. Not merely a formal experiment or the product of Augustan nostalgia, Maximianus's elegies represent a real attempt to reinvent elegy's questioning stance in a new social and religious context.
This is a postprint (author's final draft) version of an article published in the journal Transactions of the American Philological Association in 2009. The final version of this article may be found at http://dx.doi.org/10.1353/apa.0.0023 (login may be required). The version made available in OpenBU was supplied by the author.