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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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Reciprocity Exposed

Reciprocity Exposed

(p.117) Chapter Three Reciprocity Exposed
The Commerce of War
University of Chicago Press

This chapter presents an overview of economic morality in Civil War, and also describes the three central characters: Caesar, Pompey, and Cato. Civil War lacks any transaction that even approaches the apparent ordinariness of Dido's land purchase, and its relative scarcity of reciprocal exchange, even in its distorted forms, is balanced by a corresponding abundance of commodity exchange. The economic language of Lucan's dedication presents Nero as an oddly passive product of the shortsighted and self-interested striving that leads to civil war. The narrator of Civil War criticizes destructive trade, but at other points detaches commodity language from mercantile incontinentia for use in quantifying the waste of civil war. Lucan's thought also turns to the archetypal frugal Roman, Cato, as the last hope for recovering social order.

Keywords:   economic morality, Civil War, Caesar, Pompey, Cato, reciprocal exchange, commodity exchange, Lucan

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