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Title: The Poetics of Horror in Lucan's Bellum Civile and Statius' Thebaid
Authors: Cruz, Kathleen Noelle
Advisors: Feeney, Denis
Contributors: Classics Department
Keywords: Classical literature
Flavian literature
Latin literature
Neronian literature
Subjects: Classical literature
Classical studies
Issue Date: 2020
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: Lucan’s Bellum Civile and Statius’ Thebaid have been traditionally critiqued as excessively and grotesquely violent poems. More recently, scholars have reevaluated these epics by emphasizing the thematic concerns to which such violence contributes. I contend that neither of these works can be properly appreciated if we downplay their nuanced and indeed graphic interest in bodily harm or subsume it under more palatable lines of criticism. This project presents a framework that allows proper analysis of Lucan and Statius’ violent grotesquerie by arguing that both poems can be profitably re-understood more specifically as cohesive narratives of horror. The project’s conceptual framework of horror is derived from the philosophy of aesthetics and the emotions and is bolstered by contributions from film and affect theory. I examine five areas within which Lucan and Statius explore the potential of horrific imagery: an emphasis on horror as intensively visual and rooted in complicit spectacle; the opening up, taking apart, and transformation of the human body; the demand for humans to consume foul or taboo materials; pessimistic cosmological frameworks; and the potential for the natural world to act as both a subject and object of horror. Through theoretically grounded close readings, I demonstrate the distinctions that can and should be drawn in what is often considered a single phenomenon and offer a new lens through which to read the very distinct and innovative priorities of the Bellum Civile and Thebaid.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Classics

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