Theses Doctoral

Lucan's Mutilated Voice: The Poetics of Incompleteness in Roman Epic

Crosson, Isaia Mattia

In this doctoral dissertation I seek to reassess the innovativeness of the young Corduban poet Lucan’s masterpiece, the Civil War. Faced with the abrupt closure of Lucan’s poem 546 lines into Book 10, I adopt the view propounded by Haffter, Masters and Tracy, that what most have taken as incompletion brought on by the poet’s premature death in 65 CE is in fact a deliberate artistic decision. I then argue back from this view and reread several key features of the poem as manifestations of the same deliberate bodily incompleteness, the same sudden mutilation of a voice that the ending of the poem as we have it presents. My dissertation consists of two macro-sections, one on the structural and thematic characteristics of Lucan’s Civil War, and one on the characterization of the two antagonists most actively involved in the conflict: Julius Caesar, himself the author of an incomplete prose account of the very civil war that Lucan chooses to focus on; and Pompey the Great, a broken man whose mangled body reproduces at the microcosmic level the lack of finish exhibited by the textual body of the poem itself.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
Williams, Gareth David
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
July 2, 2020