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Damn With Great Praise? The Imperial Encomia Of Lucan And Silius

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Chapter Summary

Both Lucan's Bellum Ciuile and Silius Italicus' Punica incorporate passages of extravagant praise for their respective emperors, Nero and Domitian. The emphasis on mounting the chariot of the sun as a possible future role for the emperor, on one reading turning him into a latter-day Phaethon,can be seen as allusion on Nero's own self-projection of which the Golden House statue will be the ultimate manifestation. The vision of Domitian is the culmination of a prophecy given by Jupiter to Venus. Both Lucan and Silius thus use intertextuality with Virgil to point up the lies which their respective eulogies present. Lucan revels in his rewriting of Virgil's address to Octavian in Georgics, pushing every concept to the limit to emerge with the only image capable of counterbalancing the enormity of civil war and producing a dazzling rhetorical tour de force.

Keywords: Domitian; Imperial Encomia; Lucan's Bellum Ciuile; Nero; Silius Italicus' Punica



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