The Art of Caesar's Bellum Civile: Literature, Ideology, and Community

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Cambridge University Press, Jan 19, 2012 - History
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Traditional approaches have reduced Caesar's Bellum Civile to a tool for teaching Latin or to one-dimensional propaganda, thereby underestimating its artistic properties and ideological complexity. Reading strategies typical of scholarship on Latin poetry, like intertextuality, narratology, semantic, rhetorical and structural analysis, cast a new light on the Bellum Civile: Ciceronian language advances Caesar's claim to represent Rome; technical vocabulary reinforces the ethical division between 'us' and the 'barbarian' enemy; switches of focalization guide our perception of the narrative; invective and characterization exclude the Pompeians from the Roman community, according to the mechanisms of rhetoric; and the very structure of the work promotes Caesar's cause. As a piece of literature interacting with its cultural and socio-political world, the Bellum Civile participates in Caesar's multimedia campaign of self-fashioning. A comprehensive approach, such as has been productively applied to Augustus' program, locates the Bellum Civile at the interplay between literature, images and politics.

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About the author (2012)

Luca Grillo is Assistant Professor of Classics at Amherst College, Massachusetts and has written on subjects as diverse as Vergil's women; narratology in Caesar; Augustine and the destruction of the temple of Caelestis in Carthage; and Nobilior's temple of Hercules Musarum. Current and future projects include a monograph on Fortuna and a commentary on Cicero's De Provinciis Consularibus.

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