I, the Poet
First-Person Form in Horace, Catullus, and Propertius
First-person poetry is a familiar genre in Latin literature. Propertius, Catullus, and Horace deployed the first-person speaker in a variety of ways that either bolster or undermine the link between this figure and the poet himself. In I, the Poet, Kathleen McCarthy offers a new approach to understanding the ubiquitous use of a first-person voice in Augustan-age poetry, taking on several of the central debates in the field of Latin literary studies—including the inheritance of the Greek tradition, the shift from oral performance to written collections, and the status of the poetic "I-voice."
In light of her own experience as a twenty-first century reader, for whom Latin poetry is meaningful across a great gulf of linguistic, cultural, and historical distances, McCarthy positions these poets as the self-conscious readers of and heirs to a long tradition of Greek poetry, which prompted them to explore radical forms of communication through the poetic form. Informed in part by the "New Lyric Studies," I, the Poet will appeal not only to scholars of Latin literature but to readers across a range of literary studies who seek to understand the Roman contexts which shaped canonical poetic genres.