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Author Topic: Latin Poets and Italian Gods  (Read 2101 times) Average Rating: 0
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« Topic Start: April 06, 2011, 09:14:04 pm »

Title: Latin Poets and Italian Gods
Author(s): Elaine Fantham
Publisher: Toronto:  University of Toronto Press
Publication Date: 2009
ISBN: 1442640596
Current Price and More Info from Amazon

From the Bryn Mawr Classic Review:
Elaine Fanthamís Latin Poets and Italian Gods aims "to outline the evidence for the survival of these cults [to rustic demigods] and contrast the patterns of Roman worship of country gods like Pan, or the nymphs of Italyís springs, with the fuller picture left to us of such cult in Greece" (vii). She hopes to recapture those rural, religious experiences which declined in the face of the cosmopolitan culture of Rome and the Augustan renewal of Italian religion that "replaced piety with fantasy and emotional detachment from Italyís countryside and its gods" (xi). Generally speaking, the work of Feeney, Wiseman, and Larson sets the scholarly parameters for Fanthamís analysis of the representations of country religious experiences in literature.1 The first three chapters, consisting of her three reworked Robson Classical Lectures (2003), reconstruct "the natural and supernatural world of these countrymen in central Italy, and provide historical and epigraphic evidence of actual cult offered to the country spirits" and reveal "the emotional importance of the same local deities of land and water to the sophisticated poets of the Augustan age" (5). The last three chapters reassess the material through a close reading of these gods in the Metamorphoses, carmina Priapea, and Statiusí Silvae. The book also maps out the processes by which the worship of numinous springs and groves gives way to the "quaint superstitions" and "charming fictions" that arise with "post-classical Greek storytelling and the decorative arts" (7).

Read the full review at the Bryn Mawr Classic Review web site.

Additional Description:
Based on Elaine Fantham's 2004 Robson lectures, Latin Poets and Italian Gods reconstructs the response of Roman poets in the late republic and Augustan age to the rural cults of central Italy. Study of Roman gods is often limited to the grand equivalents of the Olympian Greek deities such as Jupiter, Mars, and Juno. However, real-life Italians gave a lot of their affection and loyalty to humbler gods with no Greek equivalent: local nymphs who supplied healing waters, the great Tiber river and other lesser rivers, the lusty garden god Priapus, and more.

Latin Poets and Italian Gods surveys the representation of these old country gods in poets from Plautus to Statius. Fantham offers historical and epigraphic evidence of worship offered to these colourful lesser spirits and reveals the emotional importance of local Italian deities to the sophisticated poets of the Augustan age.

Special Notes:

Legal Notes: Some description text and item pictures in this post may come from and are used by permission. The Cauldron is an Amazon Affiliate and purchases made through the Amazon links in this message help support The Cauldron.

Discussion and reviews of this book are welcome in this thread. If you've read the book, please tell us what you think of it and why.

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