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Tacitus, the Epic Successor: Virgil, Lucan, and the Narrative of Civil War in the Histories

by Timothy A. Joseph
Leiden ; Boston : Brill, 2012.
Mnemosyne supplements
Mnemosyne, bibliotheca classica Batava Supplementum
9789004229044 (hardback : alk. paper), 9004229043 (hardback : alk. paper), 9789004231283 (e-book)
Allusions to the epic poets Virgil and Lucan in the writing of the Roman historian Tacitus (c. 55 - c. 120 C.E.) have long been noted. This monograph argues that Tacitus fashions himself as a rivaling literary successor to these poets; and that the emulative allusions to Virgil's 'Aeneid' and Lucan's 'Bellum Civile' in Books 1-3 of his inaugural historiographical work, the 'Histories', complement and build upon each other, and contribute significantly to the picture of repetitive, escalating civil war in the work. The argument is founded on the close reading of a series of related passages in the 'Histories', and it also broadens to consider certain narrative techniques and strategies that Tacitus shares with writers of epic.
  • Tacitus the epic successor
  • Virgil, Tacitus, and the trope of repetition
  • Epic allusion in the Histories
  • Tacitus' readers
  • Lucan's death and afterlife in Ann. 15.70
  • Maternus and Virgil in the Dialogus
  • A Virgilian stylistic program: Ann. 3.55.5 and 4.32.2
  • History as epic: Opus adgredior
  • Tacitus' expansive wars
  • In medias res
  • The catalogue of combatants
  • Foreshadowing in the catalogue
  • A model reading of civil war: Hist. 1.50
  • Pharsaliam Philippos
  • A proem in the middle
  • "The same anger of the gods"
  • "The same madness of humans"
  • The deaths of Galba and the desecration of Rome: Galba and Priam
  • Additional Galban intertexts (by way of Priam?)
  • The scene of the crime
  • Galba's death lives on
  • Galba and the Capitol: repetitions
  • A fall worse than Troy's
  • More war (and more Virgil) at Rome
  • The battles of Cremona: The two Cremonas: repetitions
  • Ever fleeting commiseration
  • The sieges at Placentia and Cremona
  • Epic battles fought again at Cremona
  • The settlement of Cremona-into flames
  • A snapshot of civil war's repetitiveness: Hist. 2.70
  • Otho's exemplary response: In ullum rei publicae usum
  • Otho the anti-Aeneas?
  • Epilogue: "Savage even in its peace"
  • War in the senate
  • "Savagery in the city" in the lost books?.
xi, 215 pages ; 24 cm.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
Series Statement
Mnemosyne supplements ; volume 345
Mnemosyne, bibliotheca classica Batava. Supplementum v. 345
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