By Shadi Bartsch

Is Lucan's incredible and ugly epic Civil warfare an instance of ideological poetry at its so much flagrant, or is it a piece that despairingly declares the meaninglessness of ideology? Shadi Bartsch bargains a startlingly new resolution to this cut up debate at the Roman poet's magnum opus. Reflecting at the disintegration of the Roman republic within the wake of the civil warfare that all started in forty nine B.C., Lucan (writing through the grim tyranny of Nero's Rome) recounts that fateful clash with a surprisingly ambiguous portrayal of his republican hero, Pompey. even supposing the tale is one among a sad defeat, the language of his epic is extra usually violent and nihilistic than heroic and tragic. And Lucan is oddly thinking about the picture destruction of lives, the violation of human bodies--an curiosity paralleled in his deviant syntax and fragmented poetry. In an research that attracts on modern political proposal starting from Hannah Arendt and Richard Rorty to the poetry of Vietnam veterans, in addition to on literary conception and historical assets, Bartsch unearths within the paradoxes of Lucan's poetry either a political irony that responds to the universally perceived desire for, but suspicion of, ideology, and a recourse to the redemptive strength of storytelling. This smart and energetic publication contributes considerably to our realizing of Roman civilization and of poetry as a method of political expression.

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Extra resources for Ideology in Cold Blood: A Reading of Lucan's Civil War

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Once again, Lucan’s favorite (but not exclusive) context for this kind of play is that of the battlefield—perhaps because, as Bibby (: ) suggests, soldiers are normally agents par excellence, representatives of the myth of military power to act: ‘‘The soldier’s body . . , the brain) . . lacks identity, totality, agency, or will and has been rendered utterly alien, other, abject.  ). At Pharsalus, one side of the battle is ‘‘waged’’ with throats, a strange attribution of agency to the object of action (‘‘hinc iugulis .

The outward and inward features are often merged into one. (Bakhtin : , ) Ex a m Co The grotesque narrative, which is marked by ‘‘a self-conscious delight in spectacle and paradox’’ (McNeil : ), thus puts the body on display; even as it focuses on the ludic dimensions of talking about death, it uses bodily disintegration or violation to undermine (yet again) the category of the unitary self. But the fascination with boundaries extends beyond the body. 71 Finally, the grotesque is experienced in particular in the act of reception.

The epic narrative, which classical literary theory describes with the metaphor of the whole, well-knit body, is deliberately fragmented by Lucan to depict a world out of joint . . To portray history from the perspective of the lost republican cause and to counter the unifying historical fictions and narratives of imperial ideology, both bodies and poems must fall into pieces. 24 And he adds a further point, this one linked to the notion of personal identity. Citing the Stoic view of soul as spread throughout the body, or rather emanating from the heart and endowing the rest of the body with motion and sensation, he suggests that the natural result of such a view would be to ponder at what point the mutilation of a body led to ‘‘the loss of personal identity of that body’s owner’’ (: ).

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