Epic and Empire in Vespasianic Rome offers a new interpretation of Valerius Flaccus' Argonautica, a Latin epic poem written during the reign of the emperor Vespasian (70-79 AD). Recounting the famous voyage of Jason and the Argonauts as they set off to retrieve the Golden Fleece, the poem depicts a narrative of high epic adventure. In this volume, Stover shows how Flaccus' epic reflects the restorative ideals of Vespasianic Rome, which attempted to restore order following the destructive civil war of 68-69 AD. This proposition sets it apart from the largely 'pessimistic' readings of other scholars.
An important element of Flaccus' poetics of recovery is an engagement with Lucan's iconoclastic Bellum Civile. This poem's deconstructive tendencies offered Flaccus a poetic point of departure for his attempt to renew the epic genre in the context of political renewal triggered by Vespasian's accession to power. Stover's approach is thus both formalist and historicist as he seeks not only to elucidate Flaccus' dynamic appropriation of Lucan, but also to associate the Argonautica's formal gestures within a specific socio-political context.
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