The Priapus Poems

The Priapus Poems : Erotic Epigrams from Ancient Rome

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Unmistakable by virtue of his exaggerated phallus, Priapus-one of Rome's minor fertility gods-inspired a host of epigrammatic poems that offer one of the best primary sources for the study of ancient sexuality. Despite their apparent frivolity, the Priapus poems raise basic questions of class and gender, censorship, and the nature of obscenity. The god's self-conscious indecency placed him squarely in the realm of comedy, but his role as guardian of fertility also gave him a deep religious significance. Richard Hooper's introduction explores this important duality, and places the poems in their historical context. Essentially graffiti clothed in the refined forms of classical poetry, The Priapus Poems offers the reader "a trip to Coney Island in a Rolls Royce". Hooper's lively translation makes these playful poems available for the first time to the nonspecialist in an appealing, elegant, and readable version. This edition includes the original Latin texts as well as a commentary on classical references and textual more

Product details

  • Paperback | 160 pages
  • 139.7 x 203.2 x 12.7mm | 226.8g
  • University of Illinois Press
  • Baltimore, United States
  • English
  • 0252067525
  • 9780252067525

Review quote

"Why bother with smut, even if it's ancient? For one thing, much of the Priapea is quite funny even if not fodder for the family hour; for another, as Hooper takes pains to point out, these rude verses uncover Roman sexuality and sexual mores in skewed but revealing ways." Jennifer Howard, The Washington Post "Affords the reader a rich introduction to Priapus' fortunes and a valuable commentary on every poem. By turns gross and funny, these poems, which have exerted a huge influence on Western literature, are certain to delight many readers and offend others." Virginia Quarterly Review "The sexual customs of the ancient Romans - like their empire - astonish, impress, and sometimes disturb the sexually pseudo emancipated US observer. Hooper has not softened the variegated obscenities (oral, anal, and genital), the grotesque invective (against women, thieves, and homosexuals), or ludicrous vaunts (power and size)." Choice "A fascinating account of historical significance... A humorous and erotic collection of poetry for those interested in ancient poems rooted in Greek and Roman Mythology. It also provides profound insight into the cultures of those times, without which, most of the poems would on their own, seem obscene. But taken in the context of the times, the humor, or bite, shines through." R. C. Travis, Poetic Voices "A fine piece of work. The introduction is sensible, scholarly without being off-putting. And the translations are graceful, burly, and plausible." David R.Slavitt, translator of The Oresteia of Aeschylus "An absolutely brilliant translation." Judith Hallett, coeditor of Roman Sexualities "Witty, accessible, and enjoyable. Hooper's translation is excellent." Catharine Edwards, author of The Politics of Immorality in Ancient Romeshow more

Rating details

3 ratings
3.66 out of 5 stars
5 33% (1)
4 0% (0)
3 67% (2)
2 0% (0)
1 0% (0)
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