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Virgil’s Imperial Epic and Lucan’s Pharsalia, or the Specter of Hannibal and the Ruins of Rome

Virgil’s Imperial Epic and Lucan’s Pharsalia, or the Specter of Hannibal and the Ruins of Rome

Chapter:
(p.69) Three Virgil’s Imperial Epic and Lucan’s Pharsalia, or the Specter of Hannibal and the Ruins of Rome
Source:
The Conquest of Ruins
Author(s):
Julia Hell
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226588223.003.0004

This chapter begins with a discussion of J. M. W. Turner’s painting, Regulus (1828). The author argues that Turner captured the terror and theatricality of Polybios’s scenario. She then analyzes Virgil’s rewriting of Polybios’s rubble gazer scenario into the Roman scenario of ruin contemplation in the Aeneid, the Augustan epic of empire. The author argues that Virgil invented the concept of Rome’s imperial ruins in Book Eight of the Aeneid. With Dido’s curse, Virgil also revived the specter of Hannibal, the barbarian enemy. In his Pharsalia, Lucan elaborated on this ruin consciousness. In the wake of Polybios’s, Virgil’s, and Lucan’s writing, there now existed an understanding that mere debris or rubble belongs to the conquered, and the ruin to the Roman conqueror.

Keywords:   J. M. W. Turner, Virgil, Aeneid, Lucan, Pharsalia, ruina, Rome’s archaic ruins, Silius Italicus, imperial ruin, concept of rubble

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