Petrarch’s Lucan and the Africa

Matthew Leigh

in Classical Constructions

Published in print October 2007 | ISBN: 9780199218035
Published online January 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191711534 | DOI:
Petrarch’s Lucan and the Africa

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The Africa is Petrarch’s epic on the Second Punic War and the glorious career of Scipio Africanus Maior. The very rumour of its composition was enough to gain for the poet the laurel crown bestowed on him by the city of Rome in 1341; but the poem itself, jealously guarded by its author, and perhaps finally abandoned as incapable of completion, was still unpublished and massively lacunose at the time of his death in 1374. The work finally crept into publication in the 1390s, an inert curio as disregarded by the subsequent centuries as the Rime sparse were adored. Scholarship, in turn, is limited. A major critical edition of the poem was produced by Festa in 1926, and was the subject of a detailed review by Fraenkel, but subsequent criticism has been scant. Even the greatest students of Petrarch, for all that they cite certain parts of the Africa as witness to one stage in the development of his thought, appear to content themselves with reference to specific key passages in the poem. This chapter attempts to make good some of what is lost in the process. The key to this investigation is the presence of Lucan.

Keywords: Africa; Petrarch; Lucan; Second Punic War

Chapter.  6630 words. 

Subjects: Classical Literature

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