Lucan the Formalist

In: Brill's Companion to Lucan

Abstract

Recent scholarship has tended to vacillate between two contradictory positions: first, that Lucan mimetically illustrates his belief in an aleatory universe by smashing to bits the formal traditions of epic poetry; second, that he is a bitter caricaturist—by definition amanipulator, not a destroyer, of form–who parodies his epic predecessors, especially Vergil, in order to expose the bankruptcy of epic ideology.This paper argues that Lucan’s caricatures serve, in addition to the negative purpose of ridiculing the epic genre, a positive one as well: to privilege pure form above all other aesthetic considerations.

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