The Art of Caesar's Bellum Civile: Literature, Ideology, and Community

The Art of Caesar's Bellum Civile: Literature, Ideology, and Community


By (author) Luca Grillo


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Paperback $36.76
  • Format: Hardback | 234 pages
  • Dimensions: 158mm x 230mm x 20mm | 522g
  • Publication date: 29 February 2012
  • Publication City/Country: Cambridge
  • ISBN 10: 1107009499
  • ISBN 13: 9781107009493
  • Edition statement: New.
  • Illustrations note: 1 table
  • Sales rank: 1,091,621

Product description

Traditional approaches have reduced Caesar's Bellum Civile to a tool for teaching Latin or to one-dimensional propaganda, thereby underestimating its artistic properties and ideological complexity. Reading strategies typical of scholarship on Latin poetry, like intertextuality, narratology, semantic, rhetorical and structural analysis, cast a new light on the Bellum Civile: Ciceronian language advances Caesar's claim to represent Rome; technical vocabulary reinforces the ethical division between 'us' and the 'barbarian' enemy; switches of focalization guide our perception of the narrative; invective and characterization exclude the Pompeians from the Roman community, according to the mechanisms of rhetoric; and the very structure of the work promotes Caesar's cause. As a piece of literature interacting with its cultural and socio-political world, the Bellum Civile participates in Caesar's multimedia campaign of self-fashioning. A comprehensive approach, such as has been productively applied to Augustus' program, locates the Bellum Civile at the interplay between literature, images and politics.

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Author information

Luca Grillo is Assistant Professor of Classics at Amherst College, Massachusetts and has written on subjects as diverse as Vergil's women; narratology in Caesar; Augustine and the destruction of the temple of Caelestis in Carthage; and Nobilior's temple of Hercules Musarum. Current and future projects include a monograph on Fortuna and a commentary on Cicero's De Provinciis Consularibus.

Review quote

'By keeping in focus both the techniques of representation and what is at stake in them, the author shows the substance behind the rhetoric and demonstrates why historiography matters. Because of this and its crisp presentation of Caesar's modes of persuasion, The Art of Caesar's Bellum Civile is a perfect book for a college-level Caesar class and an excellent book for those teaching Caesar at any level.' Bryn Mawr Classical Review '... it is only through the close reading of [Caesar's] narrative that [his] Bellum Civile impresses, through its intricate and artistic propaganda - pure but unsimple. [Grillo's] study is superb at teasing out its complexities.' W. Jeffrey Tatum, Journal of Roman Studies

Table of contents

Introduction. Between ancient and modern approaches: admirers and detractors of Caesar; 1. The swift and the slow: Caesar's art of characterization; 2. The great contest: constantia, innocentia, pudor, and virtus; 3. Redefining loyalty; 4. The limits and risks of Caesar's leniency; 5. The barbarization of the enemy; 6. Two army-communities and their effect on the Roman people; 7. Shaping the future of Rome: the architecture of the Bellum Civile; Appendix 1. Chronology of the Civil War (pre-Julian calendar) and narrative structure of the Bellum Civile; Appendix 2. Composition, publication and genre of the Bellum Civile; Appendix 3. The manuscript tradition of the Bellum Civile. Opening, end and book division.