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In the Rubble of Carthage: Polybios’s Histories and the Time That Remains

In the Rubble of Carthage: Polybios’s Histories and the Time That Remains

Chapter:
(p.39) One In the Rubble of Carthage: Polybios’s Histories and the Time That Remains
Source:
The Conquest of Ruins
Author(s):
Julia Hell
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226588223.003.0002

This chapter traces the genesis of the ruin gazer scenario to Polybios’s eyewitness report about the brutal conquest of Carthage. Having theorized the rise and fall of empires, Polybios concludes The Histories with a scene connecting Scipio, the Roman conqueror, Hannibal, the barbarian enemy, the rubble of Carthage, and the idea of imperial time as time before the end. This is Polybios’s law of ruin. The author traces the formal aspects of Polybios’s ruin scenario to Greco-Roman theater, specifically to the skene (stage building), which she argues, functions as a site of imperial sovereignty. Working with the concept of scopic desire, the author deepens her analysis of Polybios’s scene as a scopic scenario. Visualizing empire’s time and inscribing its power relations, this Carthaginian scenario manifests the imperial subject’s desire for visual mastery and the disciplining of time.

Keywords:   Polybios, Law of ruin, Scipio, Hannibal, Rubble gazer scenario, Greco-Roman ocularcentrism, Greco-Roman theater, Skene, Friend-enemy imaginary, Scopic domination

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