Perspective and Paradigm

Ben Tipping

in Exemplary Epic

Published in print May 2010 | ISBN: 9780199550111
Published online September 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191720611 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Classical Monographs

Perspective and Paradigm

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This chapter argues that the Punica is a poem at war with itself. The past Silius portrays is at once an ideal that contrasts with subsequent decline, the source of that decline, and disconcertingly parallel with the present. For Silius also, at times, and from a certain point of view, presents exemplary Roman conduct as intact across history: Romulus, Scipio, and Domitian (for instance) are all model Romans, and approximately modelled on one another. But that point of view is temporary and partial. If the typological parallels involved in such a triumvirate achieve a mutual heroization of past and present exemplars of Roman conduct, they also entail tensions that cannot be wholly suppressed. The affinity of the republican Scipio to fratricidal king and extravagantly autocratic emperor papers over ideological fissures that remain, or are all too easily rendered, visible. It also raises the possibility that the emergent hero of Silius' epic is precisely an example of and for the domination of the individual over Roman destiny.

Keywords: Silius Italicus; Punica; Roman epic; Roman destiny; epic poem

Chapter.  15246 words. 

Subjects: Classical Literature

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