Is Lucan's epic "Civil War" an example of ideological poetry at its most flagrant, or is it a work that desparingly proclaims the meaninglessness of ideology? Shadi Bartsch offers an answer to this split debate on the Roman poet's magnum opus. Reflecting on the disintegration of the Roman Republic in the wake of the civil war that began in 49BC, Lucan (writing during the reign of Nero) recounts that fateful conflict with a strangely ambiguous portrayal of his republican hero, Pompey. Although the story is one of tragic defeat, the language of his epic is more often violent and nihilistic than heroic and tragic. Lucan is oddly fascinated by the graphic destruction of lives, the violation of human bodies - an interest paralleled in his deviant syntax and fragmented poetry. In an analysis that draws on contemporary political thought ranging from Hannah Arendt and Richard Rorty to the poetry of Vietnam veterans, as well as on literary theory and ancient sources, Bartsch finds in the paradoxes of Lucan's poetry both a political irony that responds to the universally perceived need for, yet suspicion of, ideology, and a recourse to the redemptive power of storytelling.
Buy Ideology in Cold Blood book by Shadi Bartsch from Australia's Online Independent Bookstore, Boomerang Books.
(200mm x 133mm x 17mm)
Harvard University Press
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Country of Publication:
Author Biography - Shadi Bartsch
Shadi Bartsch is Professor of Classical Languages and Literatures at the University of Chicago.