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17. Hannibal at the Gates: Programmatising Rome and Romanitas In Silius Italicus’ Punica 1 and 2

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Chapter Summary

Scholars have devoted much discussion to the prefaces and introductory scenes of imperial epic, especially their programmatic aspects, but this treatment has not extended to the same degree to the Flavian epicists, except in the case of Statius. The episode is itself an epic within an epic, a self-contained narrative that connects with other scenes in the Punica. This recognition is crucial to understanding the programmatic function of the Saguntum episode. As in the Punica as a whole, there are deeds of heroism in battle, interventions by Gods, and all the other narrative components of epic. Silius' treatment of the Saguntum episode foreshadows his narrative strategy in much of the rest of the Punica. The opening, programmatic episode of the Punica is significant in the way that it encourages the reader to look for the exemplification of Rome and Romanitas.

Keywords: Flavian epicists; God; imperial epic; Punica; Romanitas; Rome; Saguntum episode



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