This chapter explores the character Hannibal in Silius' Punica. It argues that it is Hannibal's compelling, meta-poetic, absent-presence in Scipio's triumphal parade that asserts his power over Silius' epic. If the play of textual temporality, and of aperture and closure, in the Liternum episode serves to re-emphasize that the Punica is a tale told by a Roman victor, it also illustrates not only the openness of the poem to a Punic point of view, but, more broadly, Silius' limited power, as Roman epicist, over openings and closings. His poetic celebration of Roman victory, or victories, cannot altogether control its portrayal of Rome's greatest enemy, nor the problematic lapse between Roman past and present, nor, indeed, how, or how much of, the Punica will be read.
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