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Pestilence and the Body Politic in Latin Literature - Oxford Scholarship Online
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Pestilence and the Body Politic in Latin Literature

Hunter H. Gardner


Lucretius, Vergil, and Ovid developed important conventions of the Western plague narrative as a response to the breakdown of the Roman res publica in the mid-first century CE and the reconstitution of stabilized government under the Augustan Principate (31 BCE–14 CE). Relying on the metaphoric relationship between the human body and the body politic, these authors use largely fictive representations of epidemic disease to address the collapse of the social order and suggest remedies for its recovery. Plague as such functions frequently in Roman texts to enact a drama in which the concerns of ... More

Keywords: Latin literature, epic, contagion, disease, civil war, body politic, ancient Rome, Augustan Principate, Golden Age, family

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2019 Print ISBN-13: 9780198796428
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2019 DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198796428.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Hunter H. Gardner, author
Associate Professor of Classics and Comparative Literature, University of South Carolina

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