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Title: Epic of civil war in Lucan, Statius and Silius Italicus
Author: Pontiggia, Ludovico
ISNI:       0000 0004 9354 1112
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2020
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This dissertation explores the interaction between the theme of civil war and the epic genre. The focus is on three Latin epic poems composed in the mid-late first century AD: Lucan’s Pharsalia, Statius’ Thebaid and Silius’ Punica. A special contribution is given to the understanding of the Domitianic poems, the Thebaid and the Punica, in the light of their late-Neronian model, the Pharsalia. At the heart of this project lies the idea that Lucan provided Statius and Silius with a key model for interpreting the rise of the Flavian dynasty from the civil wars that affected Rome after Nero’s death, in AD 68-69. The work is structured in four chapters, by topic; and each chapter is structured in sections, by author. The first chapter explores the relationship between the bipartite structure of these poems and the twofold assessment of civil war, now a wicked struggle for absolute power, now a noble form of tyrannomachy. The second chapter is about the problem of repetition in epic and the theme of civil war, a kind of conflict which, especially in Roman history, is characterised by cyclical recursiveness. The third chapter deals with the theological issue, as civil wars seem to deny the providential teleology, presided over by Jupiter, which traditionally sustains the unfolding of the epic plot towards its telos. The fourth chapter presents a new form of civil struggle, psychomachy, a war of the self fought within one’s soul against vices and passions – a legacy of markedly (though not exclusively) Stoic brand destined to great fortune among later Christian poets.
Supervisor: Hardie, Philip Sponsor: Fondazione Ermenegildo Zegna
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Lucan ; Statius ; Silius Italicus ; Intertextuality ; Epic poetry ; Stoicism