Versifying Domination, Versifying Resistance: Representations of Slavery in Latin Commemorative Poetry ⎻ Emily Mitchell

This event has passed.

114 Van Hise Hall
@ 5:30 pm


This paper analyzes the phenomenon of Latin commemorative poetry for enslaved and emancipated persons during the late republican and early imperial periods, including both inscribed epitaphs and literary texts. By means of two case studies, I seek to demonstrate that such poems constituted a forum in which contrasting perspectives on slavery, including both positive and negative sentiments, could be voiced. My first case study focuses on the portrayal of patron-freedperson relations in selected commemorative poems for freedpeople (Statius, Silvae 2.6 and CLE 959, 990, and 1276). My second case study focuses on the representation of libertas, “freedom,” in selected commemorative poems for enslaved persons (Martial, Epigrams 1.101 and CLE 1331 and 2115). These case studies serve to elucidate the ideological dynamics of such texts, which frequently seek not only to memorialize the deceased, but also to contribute to a broader dialogue on slavery and to advance specific social and political agendas.