Department or Program

Classical Studies

Additional Department or Program (if any)

Classical Studies

Title of Approved Individual Major


Primary Wellesley Thesis Advisor

Liz Young

Additional Advisor(s)

Raymond Starr


Exemplarity is a commonly observed feature of the Roman cultural landscape, be it in respect to literature, monuments, or portraiture. Particularly in Augustan Rome, exemplary figures were utilized to express common cultural values intended to serve as a guide to moral conduct, and were intended to draw from the past in an attempt to unify and render cohesive a state that had suffered many years of civil war. Exemplary figures also served to ground Augustus's rule in the past. This thesis looks at exemplarity in Book IV of Propertius's Elegies, specifically regarding two characters, Cornelia and Tarpeia. Rather than expressing a single, easily understood value and thus serving a function as a template of behavior, Propertius, within the text, instead destabilizes the ideas that these characters supposedly represent, and thus complicates essential pillars of Roman identity.