Our spring sale is on! Use promo code SPRING24 at checkout to save 50% on any order!

Examines Lucan's literary adaptation of the cosmological dialectic of Love and Strife

Table of contents

Table of Contents

1. Love and Strife in Greek and Roman Literature
   1.1 Philosophical Background: Love and Strife in Didactic Poetry
   1.2 Literary Background: Love and Strife in Epic Poetry
   1.3 Love and Strife in Vergil
2. The Dialectic of Love and Strife in Lucan
   2.1 The Proem
   2.2 Venus and Mars
   2.3 Ilerda
   2.4 Erictho
3. Love in Lucan
   3.1 Pompey, Julia, and Cornelia
   3.2 Caesar and Cleopatra
   3.3 Cato and Marcia
   3.4 Alexander the Great
4. Strife in Lucan
   4.1 Cosmos and Chaos
   4.2 Virtus and Aristeiai
   4.3 Games
   4.4 Clemency
5. The Interaction of Love and Strife in Lucan
   5.1 Love for Strife
   5.2 Strife as Love Rivalry
   5.3 Strife as Love Suicide
   5.4 Strife as Rape


Compelled by the emperor Nero to commit suicide at age 25 after writing uncomplimentary poems, Latin poet Lucan nevertheless left behind a significant body of work, including the Bellum Civile (Civil War).  Sometimes also called the Pharsalia, this epic describes the war between Julius Caesar and Pompey.Author Giulio Celotto provides an interpretation of this civil war based on the examination of an aspect completely neglected by previous scholarship: Lucan’s literary adaptation of the cosmological dialectic of Love and Strife.

According to a reading that has found favor over the last three decades, the poem is an unconventional epic that does not conform to Aristotelian norms: Lucan composes a poem characterized by fragmentation and disorder, lacking a conventional teleology, and whose narrative flow is constantly delayed. Celotto’s study challenges this interpretation by illustrating how Lucan invokes imagery of cosmic dissolution,  but without altogether obliterating epic norms. The poem transforms them from within, condemning the establishment of the Principate and the Julio-Claudian dynasty.

Giulio Celotto is Assistant Professor of Classics at the University of Virginia.

"A reading of the Bellum civile through the leitmotifs of Love and Strife focuses attention on important themes of the poem, and sheds new and useful light on a number of individual passages."

- Philip Hardie

"Celotto's study [was] particularly fruitful for illuminating Lucan's constant and surprisingly systematic dialogue with the Aeneid, a much observed and not sufficiently explored characteristic of our favorite maverick author. This feature will make this book useful set reading for any class on Latin epic--deconstructionist or not."
--Journal of Roman Studies

- Martin T. Dinter