Theses Doctoral

Breakthrough and Concealment: The Formulaic Dynamics of Character Behavior in Lucan

Chen, Howard Shau-Hao

This dissertation analyzes the three main protagonists of Lucan's Bellum Civile through their attempts to utilize, resist, or match a pattern of action which I call the "formula." Most evident in Caesar, the formula is a cycle of alternating states of energy that allows him to gain a decisive edge over his opponents by granting him the ability of perpetual regeneration. However, a similar dynamic is also found in rivers, which thus prove to be formidable adversaries of Caesar in their own right. Although neither Pompey nor Cato is able to draw on the Caesarian formula successfully, Lucan eventually associates them with the river-derived variant, thus granting them a measure of resistance (if only in the non-physical realm). By tracing the development of the formula throughout the epic, the dissertation provides a deeper understanding of the importance of natural forces in Lucan's poem as well as the presence of an underlying drive that unites its fractured world.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
Williams, Gareth David
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
April 2, 2014