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Translation as MusePoetic Translation in Catullus's Rome$
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Elizabeth Marie Young

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780226279916

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226280080.001.0001

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Excavating the Poetic Emporium

Excavating the Poetic Emporium

Material and Cultural Capital in the Polymetrics

(p.52) 2 Excavating the Poetic Emporium
Translation as Muse

Elizabeth Marie Young

University of Chicago Press

My second chapter reads an assortment of short poems from the first part of the collection (the so-called “polymetrics”) to reveal the ways in which they use foreign luxuries objects as sites to contemplate processes of cultural appropriation. The Romans associated textiles, unguents, spices, and the like with the penetration of Greek culture into Italy. Their discourse surrounding these items is, thus, a place where concerns about hellenism tend to constellate. Mention of such objects in Catullus is generally marginal, off-hand or otherwise submerged (what Bill Brown discusses as the material unconscious). Yet these fleeting textual moments chart the processes by which foreign imports–including poetry itself–were being naturalized in late Republican Rome. Attending to the verbal traces of these exotic materials discloses some of the strategies by which Catullus and his generation transformed Greek ideas, words, and things into new kinds of cultural capital.

Keywords:   luxuries, objects, cultural appropriation, polymetrics, material unconscious, imports, cultural capital

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