Epic and Empire in Vespasianic Rome: A New Reading of Valerius Flaccus' Argonautica

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OUP Oxford, Jul 5, 2012 - Foreign Language Study - 244 pages
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Epic and Empire in Vespasianic Rome offers a new interpretation of Valerius Flaccus' Argonautica, a Latin epic poem written during the reign of the emperor Vespasian (70-79 AD). Recounting the famous voyage of Jason and the Argonauts as they set off to retrieve the Golden Fleece, the poem depicts a narrative of high epic adventure. In this volume, Stover shows how Flaccus' epic reflects the restorative ideals of Vespasianic Rome, which attempted to restore order following the destructive civil war of 68-69 AD. This proposition sets it apart from the largely 'pessimistic' readings of other scholars. An important element of Flaccus' poetics of recovery is an engagement with Lucan's iconoclastic Bellum Civile. This poem's deconstructive tendencies offered Flaccus a poetic point of departure for his attempt to renew the epic genre in the context of political renewal triggered by Vespasian's accession to power. Stover's approach is thus both formalist and historicist as he seeks not only to elucidate Flaccus' dynamic appropriation of Lucan, but also to associate the Argonautica's formal gestures within a specific socio-political context.

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1 The Date of the Argonautica
2 The Inauguration of the Argonautic Moment
3 The Sea Storm and Political Allegory
4 Gigantomachy and Civil War in Cyzicus
5 The Vespasianic Vates
Medea and the Issue of Jasons Virtus
Index of passages
General index

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About the author (2012)

Tim Stover is Assistant Professor of Classics at Florida State University.

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