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Durham e-Theses
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All Roads Lead to Home: Navigating Self and Empire in Early Imperial Latin Poetry

MEIJER, ESTHER (2021) All Roads Lead to Home: Navigating Self and Empire in Early Imperial Latin Poetry. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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This thesis examines how several early imperial Latin poets navigate and define their places, roles, and identities in Roman society, the Empire, and the world more generally. Following the spatial turn in the humanities and employing the concepts of collective memory and identity, I explore how they use journeys through liminal spaces to explore and articulate issues of identity and empire, their understandings and (dis)approvals of imperial power, and Rome’s position as the centre of the world.
I investigate these phenomena via concrete journeys through which poets construct imperial power and construct their Roman selves in relation to it. In the first half, a study on Caesar’s return to Italy in Lucan’s Civil War is followed by Statius’ poem in praise of Domitian’s construction of the Via Domitiana (Silvae 4.3); and in the second half, an examination of homecoming in Seneca’s Agamemnon is accompanied by Statius’ occasional poem about his visit to Pollius Felix in his native Bay of Naples (Silvae 2.2).
Characteristic of these poems is their engagement with a wide range of genres and discourses. I show that this generic interplay facilitates and contributes to the poets’ explorations: Lucan’s, Seneca’s, and Statius’ destabilisation of generic boundaries and their journeys’ generic heterogeneity function as a way of negotiating changing socio-cultural, political, and economic circumstances, contemplating and constructing imperial power, and expressing increasingly complex conceptualisations of Romanness. Through examination of the generic interplay of these poems, this thesis aims to expand our understanding of formations of identity, both in relation to the self and to the Roman state, in the 1st century CE, and to contribute to our knowledge and understanding of Latin literary culture in Roman society during this time.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Flavian literature; poetry; identity; imperialism; genre; intertextuality; Lucan; Seneca; Statius
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Classics and Ancient History, Department of
Thesis Date:2021
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:01 Dec 2021 09:50

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