Caesar's servitium amoris : some comments on the references to Roman love poetry in Book 5 of Lucan's Civil War

Author: Plago, Mariusz
Source document: Graeco-Latina Brunensia. 2020, vol. 25, iss. 1, pp. 179-197
  • ISSN
    1803-7402 (print)
    2336-4424 (online)
In his Civil War, Lucan enters into intertextual game not only with epic and tragedy, but also with love poetry. A number of references to Roman elegy, the Heroides, and Ariadne's lament in Catullus (64) have been noted in Book 5, when Caesar arrives in Epirus and summons his troops from Italy. The aim of this article is to examine the functions of these elegiac references related to Caesar and to propose an interpretation slightly different from that found in earlier studies. Using elegiac vocabulary, motifs, and topoi (servitium and militia amoris) in 5.476–497, Lucan makes his audience perceive Caesar in the role of an elegiac mistress (domina), who thereby imposes the role of lover on his soldiers. However, those roles do not correspond to their real meaning in the poem as Caesar is quickly forced to transform into a lover. This shift is crucial for the intertextual game with love poetry. Nevertheless, the troops do not notice the change, standing by the role they were previously cast in (5.678–699). In this way, they allow their leader to become a mistress again and continue the war.
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