World in Weimar. Goethe’s “ Römische Elegien” and the Augustan Poetry

This dissertation deals with Johann Wolfgang Goethe’s Römische Elegien (1795). Through his cycle of poems, Goethe refers back to a specific genre—the genre of the Augustan love elegy (especially Propertius and Ovid). The Elegien are also being widely discussed as a starting point of Weimar classicism. The project addresses these aspects in order to focus on three crucial issues, which have been insufficiently examined by Goethe studies. First, the readings investigate the imperial narratives of Augustan Rome in Goethe’s renewal of the ancient genre. Second, the study analyzes the ironic use of mythology and the play with genres, topoi and figures in the Elegien. Third, it explores Goethe’s (self-)positioning of a new poetic “I” on an establishing “literary field” (Bourdieu). Referring to Rome as an imaginary topos, the capital of the world or caput orbis, Goethe establishes a poetic way of writing, which results in the constitution of a “Weltautor”, so to speak. The productive recourse to the Augustan age would accordingly be a decisive factor in the formation of the Goethezeit.

Head researcher(s): Jakob Gehlen


Zwischen Ergreifen und Berühren. Die Rom-Ankunft des Ich in Goethes Römischen Elegien, in: Andrea Erwig/Sandra Fluhrer (eds.): Komparatistik online (2019). Special issue: Berühren. Relationen des Taktilen in Literatur, Philosophie und Theater, 124–146.


12 Jun 2019 · 12.15 pm

Jakob Gehlen: Gleicht Goethe Herkules? Mythos und Werkstatt in den »Römischen Elegien«

Jugend- und Kulturzentrum »mon ami«, Goetheplatz 11, 99423 Weimar

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20 Jun 2018 · 6.00 pm

Jakob Gehlen: Augustus' Rom als Caput Mundi (Vergil, Horaz, Ovid). Rekonstruktion einer Idee

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Unter den Linden 6, 10117 Berlin, Raum 3053

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12 Apr 2018 · 6.30 pm

Jakob Gehlen/Jakob Arnold: Status der Berührung. Theaterpraxis auf und neben der Bühne

Experimentiertheater der FAU Erlangen-Nürnberg, Bismarckstraße 1, 91054 Erlangen

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