Francis Cairns Publications

ARCA Classical and Medieval Texts, Papers and Monographs ISSN 0309-5541

Tibullus: Elegies. Text, Introduction and Commentary

Robert Maltby

ARCA 41. ISBN 978-0-905205-99-1. xii+529 pages. Publ. 2002

The Augustan poet Albius Tibullus, a contemporary of Virgil, Horace and Propertius, wrote two books of elegies in the years between 33 BC and 19 BC. Over the last three decades Tibullan scholarship has made significant advances in the understanding of his works, so that critics are now in a position to appreciate why he enjoyed such a high reputation as an elegist amongst the ancients. The present edition and major commentary by Robert Maltby is the first in English since K.F. Smith (1913) to treat Tibullus’ entire oeuvre within a single cover. It takes full account of up-to-date scholarship on this learned, elegant and, until recently, much underestimated poet.

The text is based on that of A.G. Lee (1990), with some variations which are listed and which are discussed in the notes. The Introduction includes a short history of the text and an assessment of recent Tibullan scholarship. The ancient testimonia are quoted in full and there are sections on Tibullus’ life and times, his relations with his patron, and Augustan themes in his work. The literary significance of Tibullus’ mistresses and the other characters in his elegies, together with the structure, style and metre of Books I and II and their links with contemporary literature, are all clearly and succinctly reviewed. The detailed comment on each poem is preceded by an introductory essay. The overriding aim of this Commentary is to clarify the structure and development of thought within individual elegies and to explore the relationship of each elegy to the overall structure of its book.

The volume includes an appendix giving a complete alphabetical listing of bibliography on the Corpus Tibullianum for the years 1970-2000, thus updating the earlier bibliography of Harrauer.

Robert Maltby is Emeritus Professor of Latin Philology in the University of Leeds. His previous publications include A Selection of Latin Love Elegy (Bristol 1980) and A Lexicon of Ancient Latin Etymologies (Leeds 1991).


Anzeiger für die Altertumswissenschaft 57.1/2 (2004) 5-9 (Lothar Spahlinger). “M. hat mit diesem Buch einen materialreichen, gleichwohl knappen Kommentar zum Werk Tibullus vorgelegt, der die Elegien in jeglicher Hinsicht erschliesst.”

Classical World 97.4 (2004) 458-9 (M.J.C. Putnam). “Maltby’s work joins the illustrious company of Smith and Murgatroyd as an indispensable volume for all students of Tibullus, of Roman elegy, and of Latin poetry in general.”

L'Antiquité Classique 73 (2004) 388 (Pol Tordeur)

Athenaeum 93 (2005) 734-6 (P. Pinotti): “In conclusione, gli studi tibulliani si arricchiscono di un sussidio prezioso, che riassume i risultati degli ultimi decenni di ricerca, e non potrà mancare fra gli strumenti di lavoro di chi si occupa di elegia augustea.”