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The Commerce of WarExchange and Social Order in Latin Epic$
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Neil Coffee

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780226111872

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226111902.001.0001

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Introduction

Introduction

Chapter:
(p.1) Introduction
Source:
The Commerce of War
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226111902.003.0001

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

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