Chapter

Manilian self-contradiction

Katharina Volk

in Forgotten Stars

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780199586462
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191724961 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199586462.003.0007
Manilian self-contradiction

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This chapters offers a systematic discussion of instances of self-contradiction or inconsistency in Manilius’ Astronomica. An introductory overview of scholarly approaches to inconsistency in Latin literature is followed by a consideration of internal tensions in Lucretius’ De rerum natura, which serve as a foil for Manilius’ practice. While Lucretius pointedly uses traditional language for rhetorical purposes even where its implications are at variance with his philosophical message, Manilius’ contradictions frequently arise from the tensions inherent in his own discourse. The chapter isolates three related types of Manilian self-contradiction: 1) the ‘have-one’s-cake-and-eat-it-too principle’ (the poet draws contradictory ideas from different sources without reconciling them); 2) ‘flipsides’ (the poet’s language carries its self-contradiction in itself); and 3) the major inconsistency that underlies the Astronomica (and perhaps all scientific endeavor), namely, the inherent constructionism and anthropocentrism of Manilius cosmology, which belie the posited top-down-movement of astrological influence.

Keywords: anthropocentrism; astrology; constructionism; cosmology; inconsistency; Lucretius; Manilius; science; self-contradiction

Chapter.  6601 words. 

Subjects: Classical Literature

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