Anatomizing Civil War

Studies in Lucan's Epic Technique
Martin T. Dinter
Traces Lucan's epic technique


Imperial Latin epic has seen a renaissance of scholarly interest. This book illuminates the work of the poet Lucan, a contemporary of the emperor Nero who as nephew of the imperial adviser Seneca moved in the upper echelons of Neronian society. This young and maverick poet, whom Nero commanded to commit suicide at the age of 26, left an epic poem on the civil war between Caesar and Pompey that epitomizes the exuberance and stylistic experimentation of Neronian culture. This study focuses on Lucan's epic technique and traces his influence through the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.

Martin T. Dinter's newest volume engages with Lucan's use of body imagery, sententiae, Fama (rumor), and open-endedness throughout his civil war epic. Although Lucan's Bellum Civile is frequently decried as a fragmented as well as fragmentary epic, this study demonstrates how Lucan uses devices other than teleology and cohesive narrative structure to bind together the many parts of his epic body.

Anatomizing Civil War places at center stage characteristics of Lucan's work that have so far been interpreted as excessive, or as symptoms of an overly rhetorical culture indicating a lack of substance. By demonstrating that they all contribute to Lucan's poetic technique, Martin T. Dinter shows how they play a fundamental role in shaping and connecting the many episodes of the Bellum Civile that constitute Lucan's epic body. This important volume will be of interest to students of classics and comparative literature as well as literary scholars. All Greek and Latin passages have been translated.

Jacket: Gericault, Study of a Severed Arm and Legs. © Musée Fabre de Montpellier Agglomération—cliché Frédéric Jaulmes.

Martin T. Dinter is Lecturer in Latin Language and Literature at King's College, London.

Praise / Awards

  • "Dinter’s study contains a stimulating reading of Lucan’s epic with many noteworthy individual points ... and opens up promising perspectives for future work, not least on the reception of Lucan’s epic."
    Bryn Mawr Classical Review
  • "[An] impressive and learned study that largely succeeds in its attempt to explore and explain the most striking features of Lucan’s poetic artistry."
    Religious Studies Review
  • "[Anatomizing Civil War] is a highly interesting must-read for Lucanists, as well as anyone with a rigorous interest in Lucan’s place in the epic tradition."
    New England Classical Review
  • "Dinter has produced an important work of Lucan scholarship that will be of interest to any reader of this haunting Neronian epic..."
    --Lee Fratantuono, Gnomon

  • "Dinter launches a new critical approach to BC."
    --The Classical Review

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Table of Contents

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 200pp.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Hardcover
  • 2013
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-11850-2

Add to Cart
  • $50.00 U.S.

  • Open Access
  • 2013
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-90105-0

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  • Lucan, Pharsalia, Pharsalus, M. Annaeus Lucan, Lucanus, Caesar, Julius Caesar, Civil War, Nero, Pisonian Conspiracy, Piso, John Henderson, Bellum Civile, Vulteius, Gnaeus Pompey, Bellum, Alexandrinum, fama, Erichtho, sententiae, Seneca, disiecta membra