Poetry was the most affordable art form in the Roman world: all it required were words, and someone with a talent to arrange them in a meaningful, aesthetically convincing way. Yet, the study of Latin poetry has traditionally almost exclusively focused on a small, judiciously transmitted canon of texts – a segment of Rome’s artistic production that favours the poetry that was produced, enjoyed, and controlled, by a political, social, and financial urban elite, reinforcing their claim to cultural superiority.
Focusing on a body of over 4,000 Latin verse inscriptions that have survived from the third century B. C. to Late Antiquity and cover the Roman empire in its entirety, representing ancient Rome’s middle and lower social strata in particular, MAPPOLA is an unprecedented effort to democratise our understanding of Roman poetry.
A fundamentally multidisciplinary project that will make use of recent methodological advances in linguistic, historical, and archaeological scholarship, MAPPOLA’s prime aim is fundamentally to reassess the verse inscriptions as evidence for poetry as a ubiquitous, inclusive cultural practice of the people of ancient Rome beyond the palaces of its urban aristocracy. It will provide answers to the following questions: How is the empire’s considerable regional and ethnic diversity reflected in the engagement with inscribed verse? How and where did poetic landscapes emerge, and what inspired them? What was the cultural and social significance of inscribed Latin verse? How did subcultures and poetic subversion take shape? How did inscribed poetry transcend and transgress artificially imposed boundaries and abstractions?
Over five years, organised into five integrated Work Packages and firmly rooted in the PI’s long-term vision, MAPPOLA will open a new area of empirical and quantitative research, alongside traditional qualititative approaches, into Latin poetry and its European legacy.
|The emergence of regional poetic habits||The creation of poetic landscapes and spaces||The social and cultural relevance of public poetry||Hidden in plain sight: subcultures and subversion||Interactions and (re-) imaginations|
|Focus on regional contexts||Focus on a local level||Focus on social stratification and typology||Focus on urban networks||Focus on paradigmatic shifts|
|Hotspots of inscribed verse from across the empire|
Social layering in versified communication
Poetic form and social diversity
Displaced people (e. g. slaves, migrants, soldiers)
|Latin and local codes|
‘Pagan’ vs. Christian
Latin – Proto-Romance
|Ethnic and regional diversity||⟷||Socio-cultural diversity||⟷||Cross-cultural transformations|