Eros and Empire: Virgil and the Historians on Civil War
This chapter works outward from the final scene of Virgil's Aeneid in order to examine three interlocking themes. The first is the importance of the Social (or Marsic) War (91-88 BC) as an analogue for the battles waged for Italy in the second half of Virgil's Aeneid. Here historiographical texts (Sallust, Diodorus, Posidonius) are adduced in order to show the issues surrounding the Social War. The second theme is the dilemma between mercy and vengeance, and the difficulty for Roman authors in portraying civil war. It is argued that the ‘open’ endings of both Aeneid and Sallust's Catiline are not accidental, but rather one strategy for dealing with those difficulties. The third theme is the role that spoils play in late Republican discussions of their empire and treatment of their subjects, and the way in which this is related to the question of civil war.
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