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Marcus Mānīlius


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Stoic author (see stoicism) of Astronomica, a didactic astrological poem whose composition spans Augustus' final years and Tiberius' succession. Astronomica is no more a practical treatise than is Virgil's Georgics. Religious philosophy and political ideology are the driving forces. A blistering attack on Lucretius' republican Epicurean poem underlies the poet's passionate Stoic hymns to the mystical order governing the multiplicity and diversity of creation. Astrology allows Manilius to link heavenly macrocosm with earthly and human microcosm, and he claims the authority of a divinely inspired ascent to justify his vision. His hexameters are fine and his poetic range unusual. Exploiting didactic's formal elements—prologue, ‘digression’, and epilogue—he reworks Lucretius' and Virgil's greatest excursuses and Cicero's Dream of Scipio, but can also frame telling cameos of human foibles in comic and satiric vein, whilst his verbal point marks him as Ovid's younger contemporary. Scaliger's view of Manilius, that he was as sweet as Ovid and more majestic, is returning to favour. See astrology; constellations.

Subjects: Classical Studies.


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