Religious Studies

Jörg Rüpke

Delineating and Blurring Urban Space and Urban Atmosphere in Roman Elegy

Tibullus' Construction of Urbanity by Poetic and Religious Means

Volume 9 () / Issue 3, pp. 395-424 (30)
Published 06.03.2024

Urban space cannot be identified independently of the people that turned a settlement into a city by their practices and discourses. For the city of Rome and the massive expansion and change of its space in the Augustan period, the voices of contemporary poets are invaluable. How did their texts conceive of the 'city', how did their speakers and protagonists live the city, how did they distinguish between urban and non-urban spaces? And how did these texts use religion? Employing the concepts of 'urbanity' and 'regionalisations', this article analyses the second book of Albius Tibullus, a poet typically seen as invested in rural escapism. It is argued that the basic dichotomy of city and countryside is elaborated into a complex web of overlapping spaces. Religious rituals and divine figures are central for the construction and the blurring of the urban-rural divide.

Jörg Rüpke Born 1962; permanent fellow in Religious Studies at the Max Weber Centre for Advanced Cultural and Social Studies at the University of Erfurt and co-director of the International research group »Religion and Urbanity: Reciprocal Formations.«