A groundbreaking examination of power relations in Roman elegy
In recent decades, scholars in the field of classics have paid increasing attention to gender and sexual politics in Latin elegiac poetry. In The Erotics of Domination, Ellen Greene re-examines long-held scholarly attitudes concerning the representation of male sexual desire and female subjection in the Latin love poetry of Catullus, Propertius, and Ovid. Analyzing first-person poetic personae that critics have often romanticized, Greene finds that whereas the Catullan lover appears to struggle against his own “feminization,” the Roman elegiac poets—particularly Propertius and Ovid—proclaim a radically unconventional philosophy in their seemingly deliberate inversion of conventional sex roles. Through the servitude of the male lover to his mistress, the woman achieves, at least nominally, complete domination and control over him.