This thesis looks closely at Propertius’ reception of the Antigone mythology in Propertius 2.8. First, I lay the groundwork to argue that Propertius is consciously receiving the Antigone mythology as found in Sophocles’ eponymous tragedy. I show through a close examination of language and themes that Propertius and Sophocles share semiotic markers of eroticized death that reveal Propertius’ intentional use of Sophocles’ tragedy, as opposed to other scholars who argue that Propertius is engaging with a later lost tradition of Haemon in Hellenistic poetry. After connecting Propertius with Sophocles, I explore the motif of eroticized death in mythological literature. I highlight four types of eroticized death with brief examples: 1) the suicide/intentional death of the lover at the death of the beloved by outside forces, 2) the mourning/survival of the lover at the accidental death of the beloved, 3) the suicide of the beloved at the abandonment of the lover, and 4) the intentional murder of the lover by the beloved because of betrayal. I then show that Propertius’ threat of murder and violence does not fit any of these categories and that he is innovating upon the theme of eroticized death. I then look closely at why a new type of eroticized death, one that is more extreme than other types, finds itself in the genre of poetry, which argues to depart from the world of masculine violence. I show that suicide occurs because of the poet’s insistence on being both poet and character of poetry, causing him to do harm to himself. The threat of the puella’s murder occurs because she embodies poetry itself, and the poet has become frustrated with the quality of his poems. Finally, I explore how readers can respond to violence towards a woman who is fictional and representative of poetry and argue that despite her identity residing in poetry that there is still concern for discussion about real domestic violence toward ancient women in erotic contexts.



College and Department

Humanities; Comparative Arts and Letters



Date Submitted


Document Type





ancient reception, eroticized violence, metapoetics