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Staging Memory, Staging StrifeEmpire and Civil War in the Octavia$
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Lauren Donovan Ginsberg

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190275952

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190275952.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 23 July 2021

Models of Strife for the Domus Augusta

Models of Strife for the Domus Augusta

(p.25) 1} Models of Strife for the Domus Augusta
Staging Memory, Staging Strife

Lauren Donovan Ginsberg

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the role of imperial women in perpetuating discord within the imperial house. In the opening scene, Octavia calls herself the shadow of a great name, an echo of Lucan’s Pompey that inaugurates an alignment between Octavia, Agrippina, and Pompey the Great that lasts until the play’s final lines. Intertextuality turns discordant women into militant generals waging a bellum civile with deadly, public consequences that rival those of Pharsalus. This chapter also explores Octavia and Agrippina’s engagement with similar figures of loss and discord from Vergil’s Aeneid. As each woman replays, in turn, Aeneas, Turnus, and Dido, the play stages a series of competing readings of the epic that promised Augustus and his heirs an imperium sine fine. Through his engagement with these two epics, the playwright creates an allusive space in which Rome’s imperial women replay the wars—historical and legendary—that brought their family to power.

Keywords:   Pompey, Octavia, Agrippina, Lucan, Aeneid, civil war, imperial women

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