The War with God: Theomachy in Roman Imperial Poetry

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Oxford University Press, USA, 2014 - History - 386 pages
By examining literary accounts of theomachy (literally "god-fight"), The War With God provides a new perspective on the canonical literary traditions of epic and tragedy, and will be of great interest to scholars in Classics as well as those working on the European epic and tragic traditions.The struggle between human and god has always held a prominent place in classical literature, especially in the closely related genres of epic and tragedy, ranging from the physical confrontation of Achilles with the river-god Scamander in Iliad 21 to Pentheus' more figurative challenge to Dionysusin Euripides' Bacchae. Yet perhaps the most intense engagement with theomachy occurs in Latin literature of the 1st century AD, which included not only the overreachers of Ovid's Metamorphoses and Hannibal's assault on Capitoline Jupiter in Silius Italicus' Punica, but also, in the richest and mostextended treatments of the theme, the transgressive figures of Hercules in Seneca's Hercules Furens and Capaneus and Hippomedon in Statius' Thebaid.This book, therefore, explores the presence of theomachy in Roman imperial poetry, focusing on Seneca and Statius, and sets it within a tradition going back through the Augustan age all the way to archaic Greece. The central argument of the book is that theomachy symbolizes various conflicts ofauthority: the poets' attempts to outdo their literary predecessors, the contentions of rival philosophical views, and the violent assertions of power that characterized both autocratic authority and its opposition. By drawing on evidence from literature, politics, religion, and philosophy, thisproject reveals the various influences that shaped the intellectual and cultural significance of theomachy: from Stoic and Epicurean debates about the gods to the divinization of the emperor, from poetic competition with Vergil and Homer to tyranny and revolution under the Julio-Claudian and Flaviandynasties.

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Theomachy in Greek Epic and Tragedy
The Origins of Roman Theomachy Lucretius and Vergil
Theomachy as Test in Ovids Metamorphoses
Deification and Theomachy in Senecas Hercules Furens
Theomachy in Historical Epic Disenchantment and Remystification in Lucans Bellum Civile
Paradigms of Theomachy in Flavian Epic Homer Intertextuality and the Struggle for Identity
The War of the Worlds
Theomachy and the Limits of Epic Capaneus in Statius Thebaid
The Politics of Theomachy
Index of Passages
General Index

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About the author (2014)

Pramit Chaudhuri is Assistant Professor of Classics at Dartmouth College. He is the co-editor of Reception and the Classics: An Interdisciplinary Approach to the Classical Tradition (2012).

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