“Carmina qui quondam” argues that during the Ostrogothic Period (493–554 AD) the Roman elite in Italy utilized poetry both to maintain class cohesion and to exert political power. The dissertation utilizes major literary and historic sources from the period, such as the writings of Boethius and Cassiodorus, alongside shorter texts preserved in epigraphic and paleographic sources. I draw on this archive, as well as modern theories of identity and ideology derived from sociology and political science, to examine the ways in which the Roman elite utilized poetry to distinguish themselves from the newly arrived and ethnically distinct Gothic military elite. I argue that poetry functioned as a sign marking elite wealth, education, and connection with the Roman past; elites thus used poetry to promote their ideological agendas among competing aristocratic factions as well as within the Gothic military elite. Poetry in this light is a historical as well as literary phenomenon.