Shipwrecked “Argonauticas”

In: Brill's Companion to Lucan
Author: Jackie Murray

Abstract

This chapter examines the relationship between Lucan’s conflicting presentation of the Argo and his conflicting vision of Pompey’s triumphal propaganda. The Argonautic myth inevitably attached itself to any Roman general campaigning in the East against Mithridates. Lucan refracts the struggle for control of the memory of Pompey’s triumphs onto the conflicting Alexandrian versus Roman representations of the myth. By linking Pompey’s false hopes for victory at the end of book 2 with Apollonius’ description of the Argo’s passage through the Clashing Rocks, Lucan deliberately emphasizes his silence about Argo’s status as the first ship, since in Apollonius the Argo is emphatically not the harbinger of doom it represents in Roman poetry.

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