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date: 19 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This article highlights that elegy in the late Roman period was highly adaptable to subject matter, its form serving a variety of purposes, from the martyrdom of St Hippolytus to Christian moral instruction to the later life musings on earlier affairs by the mid-sixth-century Maximianus. The poems of Rutilius Namatianius, Orientius, and Maximianus represent the most ambitious and longest elegies from late antiquity. Venantius Fortunatus enhances the tendency for coincidence of metrical unit and sense both within and between elegiac couplets. Poetry in the elegiac metre continued to be written in large quantities in late antiquity, both epigrams and more extensive compositions, though the distinction between the two, if there ever was one, becomes increasingly blurred. The variety of poems surveyed in this article bears witness to the adaptability of metre, and to the special expressive possibilities that metre was capable of bringing to a poem.

Keywords: elegy, Roman period, Rutilius Namatianius, Orientius, Maximianus, Venantius Fortunatus, poetry

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