That inspiration was we cannot fully know.
Apuleius identified the model with Hostia, a vivacious demi-monde,
which there is no reason to doubt, but Cynthia is also a literary
stalking-horse, a persona Propertius created to explore the many facets
of romantic infatuation. By turns, the lover is tender, ecstatic,
despairing, worldly-wise, self-pitying and importunate. Cynthia is just
as various, everything from the warmed-hearted and cultivated lover to
the calculating hussy. Anyone who has been in love will recognize these
shifting fictions of the heart, which are a tribute to what poets have
created from the emotional turmoil of our lives, and where the Latin
elegists played a large part.
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