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Classical ConstructionsPapers in Memory of Don Fowler, Classicist and Epicurean$
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S. J. Heyworth

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199218035

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199218035.001.0001

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Petrarch’s Lucan and the Africa

Petrarch’s Lucan and the Africa

(p.242) 11 Petrarch’s Lucan and the Africa
Classical Constructions

Matthew Leigh (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

The Africa is Petrarch’s epic on the Second Punic War and the glorious career of Scipio Africanus Maior. The very rumour of its composition was enough to gain for the poet the laurel crown bestowed on him by the city of Rome in 1341; but the poem itself, jealously guarded by its author, and perhaps finally abandoned as incapable of completion, was still unpublished and massively lacunose at the time of his death in 1374. The work finally crept into publication in the 1390s, an inert curio as disregarded by the subsequent centuries as the Rime sparse were adored. Scholarship, in turn, is limited. A major critical edition of the poem was produced by Festa in 1926, and was the subject of a detailed review by Fraenkel, but subsequent criticism has been scant. Even the greatest students of Petrarch, for all that they cite certain parts of the Africa as witness to one stage in the development of his thought, appear to content themselves with reference to specific key passages in the poem. This chapter attempts to make good some of what is lost in the process. The key to this investigation is the presence of Lucan.

Keywords:   Africa, Petrarch, Lucan, Second Punic War

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