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Poetics of the First Punic War
by Thomas Biggs
University of Michigan Press, 2020
eISBN: 978-0-472-12713-9 | Cloth: 978-0-472-13213-3

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ABOUT THIS BOOK
Poetics of the First Punic War investigates the literary afterlives of Rome’s first conflict with Carthage. From its original role in the Middle Republic as the narrative proving ground for epic’s development out of verse historiography, to its striking cultural reuse during the Augustan and Flavian periods, the First Punic War (264–241 BCE) holds an underappreciated place in the history of Latin literature. Because of the serendipitous meeting of historical content and poetic form in the third century BCE, a textualized First Punic War went on to shape the Latin language and its literary genres, the practices and politics of remembering war, popular visions of Rome as a cultural capital, and numerous influential conceptions of Punic North Africa. Poetics of the First Punic War combines innovative theoretical approaches with advances in the philological analysis of Latin literature to reassess the various “texts” of the First Punic War, including those composed by Vergil, Propertius, Horace, and Silius Italicus. This book also contains sustained treatment of Naevius’ fragmentary Bellum Punicum (Punic War) and Livius Andronicus’ Odusia (Odyssey), some of the earliest works of Latin poetry. As the tradition’s primary Roman topic, the First Punic War is forever bound to these poems, which played a decisive role in transmitting an epic view of history.

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