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All-Female Family Bonds in Latin Epic

MANIOTI, NIKOLETTA (2012) All-Female Family Bonds in Latin Epic. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



This thesis deals with the representation of all-female family bonds in Virgil’s "Aeneid", Ovid’s "Metamorphoses", Valerius Flaccus’ "Argonautica" and Statius’ "Thebaid". The themes of sisterly unanimity, love and marriage, loss and mourning, and storytelling, provide the framework within which I investigate the literary models in epic, tragedy and other genres, of each episode featuring all-female interaction. Furthermore, I demonstrate how the Roman ideal of unanimity is combined with the Apollonian representation of Medea and Chalciope in the portrayal of Dido and Anna in Virgil, which then provides the basis for four often more extreme pairs of unanimae sorores in Latin epic. The final one in the series, consisting of the sisters-in-law Argia and Antigone, attests to a very Roman view about the power of adoptive relationships. In the same vein, the stories of Amata and Lavinia, and Ceres and Proserpina, are constructed around the Roman mother’s expectations of her role in her daughter’s marriage, while love stories including sisterly interference characterised by envy can be compared to specific examples of legendary Roman women. Roman mourning practices are present in all instances of heroines losing a mother, daughter or sister, and a specific analogy to the lament for Marcellus is identified in the Ovidian myth of Clymene and the Heliades. The suicide of Ismene after Jocasta’s similar death, on the other hand, corresponds to the idea of a Roman daughter following the example set by her mother taken to its limits. Finally, sister storytellers behave similarly to Roman matrons while the stories they tell are once again influenced by the interaction of Ovid’s contemporary women. Overall, I show how these epics can indirectly offer an insight into the lives of Roman women by modelling their mythical heroines both on literary tradition and on contemporary Roman ideals and practices.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Classics and Ancient History, Department of
Thesis Date:2012
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:14 May 2012 08:54

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