Chapter

Introduction

in The Commerce of War

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print May 2009 | ISBN: 9780226111872
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226111902 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226111902.003.0001
Introduction

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This book presents an argument that Vergil's Aeneid, Lucan's Civil War, and Statius' Thebaid represent complex and distinctive responses to the socioeconomic mores of each poet's day. The distinction between reciprocal and commodity exchanges was basic to Roman society. In the Aeneid, Civil War, and Thebaid, commodity expressions for punishment resonate with other commodity language. The book also reviews the socioeconomic landscape of each poem, and then explores how the poets use economic language metaphorically to give insights into the thoughts and dispositions of their central characters. Additionally, it argues that the Aeneid shows Vergil longing for the late republican economic system; that Lucan voices skepticism of republican socioeconomic values and tentatively advocates the return to an earlier Roman order; and that Statius turns away from reflection upon a sociopolitical system to express concern for the perils of excessive individual desires.

Keywords: Vergil; Aeneid; Lucan; Civil War; Statius; Thebaid; Roman society; commodity exchanges; economic language; sociopolitical system

Chapter.  15960 words. 

Subjects: Classical Literature

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