Bacchus (also called Liber/Lyaeus/Lenaeus) plays different roles in Augustan poetry, being often depicted as a sympotic and orgiastic divinity, a patron of poetry and a deified hero. This research will analyse the associations between Bacchus and patronage in Augustan poetry, approaching issues of sympotic celebration and Dionysiac poetics. I will be particularly interested in Liber as an allegory for the powers of the real patrons of poetry in Augustan Rome. I will investigate: how the relationship between poets and patrons unfold through the identification with - or the mediation of - the ambivalent Bacchus; and also the symposium (presided over by Liber) as a metaphorical setting for the relationship of amicitia between poets and patrons. Friendship (amicitia) among the participants of a symposium presupposed libertas, which was also a prerogative of the poet. Libertas has strong political connotations in the Roman Republic. In the sense of freedom of speech, it is also a technical word of poetic genres. Bacchus, as tongue-loosener, provides libertas at the symposium, which can have different implications, and this makes him a relevant figure for the Augustan poets, who struggled to reconcile panegyric with free speech.
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