Reading after Actium is a study of Vergil's Georgics, a didactic poem ostensibly about farming but in fact a brilliant exercise challenging readers to develop a broader perspective on the basic problems and the dangers of human life. Octavian is treated as one of the poet's students and given the opportunity to learn lessons in handling power, in controlling Rome's vast resources, and in preventing the bloody cycle of civil war from beginning again. Most of all the Georgics asks Octavian to consider what is involved in assuming godlike power over his fellow citizens.
Reading after Actium provides an introduction to the history of scholarship surrounding the Georgics and the political questions surrounding Octavian and his career. Nappa gives a book by book analysis of the entire poem, and a conclusion that draws together the themes of the whole. Reading after Actium will appeal to students and critics of Vergil and other Augustan Literature as well as those of didactic poetry and its traditions. Students of Roman history and politics should read this as well.
Christopher Nappa is Assistant Professor of Classics at the University of Minnesota.