Varro of Atax and Lucan’s Gallic Catalog

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At Bellum civile 1.403-404, Lucan makes a subtle reference to Varro of Atax. Through this metapoetic gesture, he suggests that Varro’s Argonautae and Bellum Sequanicum are topics abandoned in favor of the civil war that the Bellum civile is bold enough to depict. This article first discusses the philological evidence for recognizing the reference and the implications of seeing Varro and the Argonautaein Lucan’s poem. The second section focuses on the idea of Varro’s Bellum Sequanicum and the distinctive dynamic of departure found in the catalog of Bellum civile 1. In particular, it suggests that the movement of Roman troops from Germany and Gaul into Italy represents the movement from textual Bella Gallica and Sequanicato Bellum civile. The qualities of ferocity and gentleness are also shown to play important roles in the metapoetics of the epic.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)972-993
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2019


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