The Sea Storm and Political Allegory

Tim Stover

in Epic and Empire in Vespasianic Rome

Published in print July 2012 | ISBN: 9780199644087
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191741951 | DOI:
The Sea Storm and Political Allegory

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This chapter analyzes the sea storm caused by the storm winds Boreas and Aeolus. The storm, which threatens to sink Argo, is read as an act of political revolution aimed at thwarting Jupiter's imperial agenda. It is thus an episode charged with allegorical significance for the Vespasianic context in which Valerius composed his poem. It is shown that Valerius employs gigantomachic motifs in order simultaneously to vilify the enemies of the Jovian regime and to absolve the Argonauts of any potentially Giant-like associations, a strategy Valerius carries out by distancing his Argonauts from the image of Lucan's gigantomachic Caesar. Boreas and Aeolus emerge as anti-Jovian dissidents who must be quelled so that order can be maintained, while the Argonauts emerge as pious agents of Jupiter's reunification program. The myth of Gigantomachy distinguishes between those who desire to establish a new order and those who oppose such progress.

Keywords: allegory; sea storm; Boreas; Aeolus; Gigantomachy; Caesar

Chapter.  13688 words. 

Subjects: Classical Literature

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