This project is to be situated in the field of late Latin literature and focuses on the poet Maximian (6th c.AD). His corpus consists of six elegies (686 verses in total) that put the motif of old age explicitly on the foreground. This forms a stark contrast with elegiac poems from the classical period (1st c.BC), which are written from the perspective of young men and which tend to emphasize the virility of the male body. The combination of the genre of the elegy and the discourse of old age is thus wholly original: Maximian subverts the logic of the elegiac genre by adopting the perspective of the old man who is bitter about the hardships of old age.
Maximian's late antique text is furthermore the lens through which other works of Antique literature that have old age at their core will be examined. Authors as Cicero, Seneca, Pliny, Augustine, Symmachus et al. discuss advantages and disadvantages of old age, as well as the position of older people in society. Firstly, similarities and discrepancies between these authors in regard to their views on old age will be established, as well as a comparative study of the chosen genres in this secondary corpus. These findings are the foundation on which we will base ourselves to research in a later stage of the project how Late Antiquity can help us understand the content of these classical works.
Lastly, this study productively combines antique literary studies with 'ageing studies', which focus on the self-representation of older people and their experience of old age. More specifically, insights from the field of "literary ageing studies" (such as late style, late-life creativity and the intersectionality between age and gender) are especially beneficial for the analysis of Maximian's late Latin poems.