Communication failure and civil war in Virgil’s Aeneid, Lucan’s Bellum Ciuile and Statius’ Thebaid

Chhibber, Ashley (2023) Communication failure and civil war in Virgil’s Aeneid, Lucan’s Bellum Ciuile and Statius’ Thebaid. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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This thesis explores the presence and significance of scenes of communication failure in three Latin epics. It argues for a connection between these episodes based on the poems’ shared interest in the experience of civil war, which, as the first chapter establishes, results from the recurrence of civil war throughout the first centuries BCE and CE. Although speech and rhetoric in Latin epic have been examined from a variety of perspectives, there has been no sustained analysis of the connections between the wide range of scenes in which communication seems ineffective.

In the introductory chapter, I summarise the significance of civil war in ancient Rome, the important role of communication in Latin epic, and the ways in which my three texts can be considered to be civil war poems. The following three chapters each contain an analysis of communication failure in one of my three epics, with a particular focus in each on the outbreak of war, the role of embassies and assemblies, the way that war disrupts communication between friends and relatives, and the ineffectiveness of attempts to use communication to create peace between warring parties. The focus throughout is on verbal and visual communication between characters who are engaged in the business of civil war, rather than on the tools which the poets use to communicate with their audiences. Each text is treated separately in order to explore how they emphasise different aspects of communication failure.

The final chapter draws out the similarities between these three texts, to offer overall conclusions about the role that communication failure plays in Latin epic. Key themes which emerge from this analysis include the marginalisation of certain speakers on the basis of their gender, age or opposition to war; the significance of appeals to family status and their failure in a world in which civil conflict is closely tied to the breakdown of the family; the impossibility of achieving reconciliation and ending cycles of civil conflict; and the way in which verbal communication is frequently supplanted by violence.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Lovatt, Helen
van der Blom, Henriette
Keywords: communication, communication failure, miscommunication, civil war, Rome, Roman history, Latin literature, epic, Virgil, Augustan, Aeneid, Lucan, Neronian, Bellum Ciuile, Pharsalia, Statius, Flavian, Thebaid, silence, fear, failure, persuasion, rhetoric, gender, marginalisation, kinship, peace
Subjects: D History - General and Old World > DG Italy
P Language and literature > PA Classical philology
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Arts > School of Humanities
Item ID: 72102
Depositing User: Chhibber, Aashik
Date Deposited: 31 Jul 2023 04:40
Last Modified: 31 Jul 2023 04:40

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