Introducing Poetry and Ritual in Augustus’ Secular Games in 17 B.C.E.

Marked by ritual games and sacrifices, the Ludi Saeculares, the Secular Games, mark a new age within the Roman empire, one of which was famously held by Emperor Augustus in 17 B.C.E.. The emperor then commissioned the lyric poet, Horace, to create the Carmen Saeculare, which contains much information contributing to these ritual practices during the games. In doing a literary and historical analysis of the poem under the guidance of my advisor, Dr. Mark Possanza whose primary interest as a Classics professor is in the literature and history of the late Roman Republic and the beginning of the empire started by Augustus, I hope to open up a new perspective on how this poem and the rituals that took place connect. Delving deeper, I would like to especially take interest in their relationship to how women are ideologized and used within these games, as categorized by the history and the poem. By looking into this subject, we can see the literary and historical context within the idea of lyric poetry and Roman life in the Augustan age. Then, eventually I will be able to find the connections between these two. Also, looking at the way Romans treated women and their ability to reproduce is important for my project as that perception is still held in many cultures today. 

As of now, my current professional goals are to go to graduate school for Mediterranean Archaeology and hopefully find a place within that field to obtain a job. Whether it be in the museum or university field, my dream has been to live a life of studying and researching in order to further both my own and other people’s understanding of such a fascinating society and the literature that came out of it. With CURF and the freedom it gives us to research whatever we want, I believe this will give me key insight into what I should expect in my future career. I also hope that the program will allow me to follow different methodologies and further understand the subject to which I’ve dedicated my education. I am very grateful for this opportunity.

I am a Classics and Anthropology major with a Museum Studies minor and a unique fact about myself would be that I have two tattoos inspired by literature I’ve read in Latin. One is a tattoo saying “odi et amo”, a famous line from Catullus 85, which means ‘I hate and I love’, and the second is a picture of a bow with two arrows based on the story from Ovid’s Metamorphoses of Eros having both an arrow that creates love and an arrow that creates an aversion to love within a person. 

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