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Classical ConstructionsPapers in Memory of Don Fowler, Classicist and Epicurean$
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S. J. Heyworth

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199218035

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199218035.001.0001

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From Man to Book: The Close of Tacitus’ Agricola

From Man to Book: The Close of Tacitus’ Agricola

(p.310) 14 From Man to Book: The Close of Tacitus’ Agricola
Classical Constructions

Stephen Harrison

Oxford University Press

At the close of Tacitus’ Agricola, the author famously apostrophizes his dead father-in-law with high emotional intensity. The apostrophe begins at 45.3 (Tu uero, Agricola), with an account of Agricola’s death and burial from which the author was absent (45.3-5), and then concludes the work by stressing the consolatory function of Agricola’s greatness for his grieving family, and Agricola’s lasting fame (46.1-4). This passage begins with what looks like an address to Agricola’s body resting in its tomb, a logical link with the death scene which it immediately succeeds. But by the end of the work, it could be maintained, a fundamental fusion has taken place between man and book: Agricola posteritati narratus et traditus refers both to the subject of the biography, and to the now completed biography itself. This chapter argues closely for this movement of textualization, and sets it in the context of other aspects of book-personification in Roman literature.

Keywords:   Agricola, Tacitus, biography, textualization, book-personification

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