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9 A Hero in our Midst: Stilicho as a Literary Construct in the Poetry of Claudian

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Chapter Summary

Between 396 and 404 Claudian functioned as poetic spokesman at the court of Honorius, using his political poetry to propagate a positive view of his patron, the general Stilicho, who functioned as regent to Honorius. This chapter examines one of the poetic constructs in Claudian's works, to serve as an example of how poetics can shape a political characterization: the portrayal of Stilicho. It argues that Claudian (re)creates the character of Stilicho within the story-world of the poems so that he appears as a hero or even a god through engagement with mythological imagery; his deeds are acted out as much upon a literary and mythological plane as upon a historical or mortal one, with heroes and gods battling with monsters while the universe hangs in the balance.

Keywords: Claudian; Honorius; Stilicho



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