Tibullus  

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Albius Tibullus (ca. 54-19 BC) was a Latin poet and writer of elegies. Little is known about his life. His first and second books of poetry are extant; many other texts attributed to Tibullus are of questionable origins. There are only a few references to him in later writers and a short Life of doubtful authority. His praenomen is not known, nor is his birthplace and his gentile name has been questioned. His status was probably that of a Roman knight (so the Life affirms); and he had inherited a considerable estate. But, like Virgil, Horace and Propertius, he seems to have lost most of it in 41 BC amongst the confiscations of Mark Antony and Octavian.

Style of writing

The character of Tibullus is reflected in his poems. It seems to be an amiable one. He was a man of generous impulses and unselfish disposition, loyal to his friends to the verge of self-sacrifice (as is shown by his leaving Delia to accompany Messalla to Asia), and apparently constant to his mistresses. His tenderness towards them is enhanced by a refinement and delicacy which are rare among the ancients. When treated cruelly by his love, he does not invoke curses upon her head. Instead he goes to her little sister’s grave, hung so often with his garlands and wet with his tears, to bemoan his fate. His ideal is a quiet retirement in the country with the loved one at his side. He has no ambition and not even a poet's yearning for immortality. In an age of crude materialism and gross superstition, he was religious in the old Roman way. His clear, finished and yet unaffected style made him a great favourite and placed him, in the judgment of Quintilian, ahead of other elegiac writers. For natural grace and tenderness, for exquisiteness of feeling and expression, he stands alone. He rarely overloads his lines with Alexandrian learning. However, his range is limited. Tibullus is smoother and more musical, but liable to become monotonous; Propertius, with occasional harshnesses, is more vigorous and varied. In many of Tibullus's poems a symmetrical composition can be traced.

Specimens of Tibullus at his best may be found in i. I, 3, 89-94; 5, 19-36; 9, 45-68; ii. 6. Quintilian says (Inst. x. I, 93), "Elegia quoque Graecos provocamus, cuius mihi tersus atque elegans maxime videtur auctor Tibullus; sunt qui Propertium malint; Ovidius utroque lascivior, sicut durior Gallus." ("In Elegy as well we rival the Greeks; of whom for me the author Tibullus seems the most polished and elegant; there are those who prefer Propertius; Ovid is more wanton than either, just as Gallus is more stern.")




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Tibullus" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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