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The Poetics of Late Latin Literature$
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Jas' Elsner and Jesús Hernández Lobato

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780199355631

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199355631.001.0001

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Late Narcissus

Late Narcissus

Classicism and Culture in a Late Roman Cento

(p.176) 5 Late Narcissus
The Poetics of Late Latin Literature

Jaś Elsner (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

The Latin Narcissus cento—a short poem of sixteen lines created from elements supplied by Vergil—is designed to picture the achievements of classical culture and to bring its ideals to mind, even as so many of the key aspects of classical antiquity were being sacrificed and renounced in the Christian present of Vandal North Africa, where the poem was probably written and certainly anthologized. This brief poem’s evocation of Narcissus—made up of the cultural units of Vergil’s verse and speaking to a highly educated elite with a deep command of Latin literature—is an interrogation of feelings of identification and highly valued emotional experience in a moment when the once vibrant presence of the ancient past was receding into the distance of a series of figures reflected in a pool.

Keywords:   Africa, cento, classicism, Codex Salmasianus, ekphrasis, Narcissus, Ovid, spolia, Vandals, Vergil

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