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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

Populus, Princeps, and The Poetics of Civil War

Populus, Princeps, and The Poetics of Civil War

(p.115) 4} Populus, Princeps, and The Poetics of Civil War
Staging Memory, Staging Strife

Lauren Donovan Ginsberg

Oxford University Press

This chapter moves from Nero’s relationships with his family to that with his people in the context of the revolts of 62 C.E. Though modern historians often treat these riots as insignificant, the Octavia uses this rare example of popular revolution under Nero to suggest a more pervasive discord within the state that was ready to plunge Rome once more into civil war. Through the use of a pre-existing vocabulary of civil strife and allusions to programmatic moments in previous works of civil war poetry such as the Aeneid’s first simile, Lucan’s opening book, and Horace’s Odes and Epodes, the playwright turns the popular riots for Octavia into a full-fledged civil war between citizens and emperor that threatens to destroy the city. In doing so, the play manipulates literary memory in order to bring the politics of Neronian Rome into dialogue with the Roman revolutions of the late Republic.

Keywords:   62 c.e., Octavia, Lucan, Aeneid, Horace, civil war, Roman people/populus Romanus

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