In this paper, I argue that Propertius 4.9 connects the religious framework of the cults of Bona Dea and Ara Maxima with geographical distinctions between East and West. Hercules’ association with the West grants him a place in early Roman religion by situating his worship alongside that of the native Italian goddess Bona Dea. The poem, however, also connects Hercules with the East, thus complicating his Roman identity. I argue that the poem uses the etiology of religious custom as a means to explore notions of inclusion and exclusion with regard to Roman identity, and, in particular, that it posits a model of inclusivity associated with female authority. This model, although ultimately rejected by Hercules, offers an alternative ideological proposition to the one the poem ostensibly affirms.


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pp. 179-194
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