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The Commerce of War – Exchange and Social Order in Latin Epic - Chicago Scholarship Online
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The Commerce of War: Exchange and Social Order in Latin Epic

Neil Coffee


Latin epics such as Virgil's Aeneid, Lucan's Civil War, and Statius' Thebaid addressed Roman aristocrats whose dealings in gifts, favors, and payments defined their conceptions of social order. This book argues that these exchanges play a central yet overlooked role in epic depictions of Roman society. Tracing the collapse of an aristocratic worldview across all three poems, it highlights the distinction they draw between reciprocal gift giving among elites and the more problematic behaviors of buying and selling. In the Aeneid, customary gift and favor exchanges are undermined by characters w ... More

Keywords: Latin epics, Virgil, Aeneid, Lucan, Civil War, Statius, Thebaid, commerce, Roman society, social order

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2009 Print ISBN-13: 9780226111872
Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013 DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226111902.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Neil Coffee, author

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