How did Roman poets create character? Mythological figures entail their own predetermined plotlines and received characteristics: a soft, maternal Medea is as absurd as a spineless Achilles. For the Roman poets, the problem is even more acute since they follow on late in a highly developed literary tradition. The fictional characters that populate Roman literature, such as Aeneas and Oedipus, link text and reader in a form of communication that is different from a first person narrator to an addressee. Exemplary Traits examines how Roman poets used models dynamically to create character, and how their referential approach to character reveals them mobilizing the literary tradition. By tracing the philosophical and rhetorical concepts that underlie characterization as a literary technique, this study illuminates an underestimated aspect of this poetic technique and its relation to a larger intellectual context. Covering a range of authors from Vergil to Statius, J. Mira Seo places the poetics of character in a Roman intellectual environment.