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Title: The mythological epics of Dracontius in their socio-political context
Author: Boshoff, Lynton A.
ISNI:       0000 0004 7652 2032
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2017
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The poet Blossius Aemilius Dracontius was active at Carthage during the late 5th century AD, a period when that part of the Roman Empire had long since fallen to the Vandals. Given his position of being a Roman and Catholic vir clarissimus under Germanic and Arian overlords, as well as his imprisonment by the Vandal king Gunthamund (r. 484-496) for reasons related to his poetry, he was likely to have been involved, willingly or unwillingly, in the political world of Vandal Carthage. Within his oeuvre are Latin poems of both secular and Christian inspiration. This thesis concentrates on four short epic poems on mythological subjects from the former category: Hylas, De Raptu Helenae, Medea, Orestis tragoedia. Each displays idiosyncratic treatment of their respective material, including significant changes to commonly-transmitted versions of the myths, interaction with figures of the Latin literary tradition, and thematic manipulation. This thesis takes the position that, as a learned and well-read writer, trained in the rhetorical skills needed for the lawcourts, Dracontius was well aware of the propensity for Latin epic to mix contemporary socio-political comment into its narrative. The thesis examines these four texts in the context of the poet's artistic technique, his relationship to the society in which he finds himself, his attitudes towards the nature of kingship and powerful, threatening female figures. It is then concluded that these texts exhibit features which can be interpreted as having socio-political and historical significance, relating both to the poet's immediate Vandal milieu, as well as more generally with questions of Roman continuity. In so doing, it reveals the poet's shifting loyalties and views on his and his fellow-Romans' situation under Vandal rule.
Supervisor: Harrison, Stephen ; Kaufmann, Helen Sponsor: National Research Foundation (South Africa)
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available