Working Papers by Author

Brigitte B. Libby - Classics Department, Princeton University

020804 The Intersection of Poetic and Imperial Authority in Phaedrus’ Fables
Brigitte B. Libby, Princeton University
Download PDF Abstract: Phaedrus wrote two fables featuring Roman emperors. In Fable 2.5 we find Emperor Tiberius giving a busybody his deserved come-uppance, and in Fable 3.10 Augustus miraculously solves a murder-suicide case. Yet couched among so many of Phaedrus’ fables that criticize authority figures, these positive portrayals of the emperors come as a surprise to the reader and present a significant problem of interpretation. In exploring the different possible readings of the two poems, this paper follows Phaedrus through a complex interpretive maze and shows how the fabulist’s own self-portrayal intersects with and colors his portrayal of the first two Roman emperors.
A revised version is now forthcoming in Classical Quarterly 60.2 (2010).