Animal Encounters in Valerius Flaccus’ Argonautica


This first in-depth study of Valerius Flaccus’ animals reveals their role in his poetic programme and the manifold ways in which he establishes their subjectivity. In one encounter, a trapped bird becomes a tragic victim, while the trapper is dehumanized. Elsewhere there are touching portrayals of animal/human camaraderie and friendship. Furthermore, Valerius’ provocative consideration of the ‘monstrous’ challenges simplistic definitions of any being’s nature, or the nature of relationships across species. His challenge entails profound ethical implications for his Roman readership, which resonate with us as we assess our own relationship to animals and the natural world today.

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Anne Tuttle Mackay, Ph.D. (2019), University College London, currently cares for her three young sons while conducting research in Latin poetry. Her PhD dissertation focused on animal/human dynamics in Valerius Flaccus’ Argonautica. She has also published articles on animal focalization in Valerius Flaccus in Classical Literature and Posthumanism (Bloomsbury, 2020), and on prophecy in Statius’ Thebaid in Ritual and Religion in Flavian Epic (Oxford, 2013).
Editorial Board
Edited by J.J.H. Klooster (University of Groningen), K.M. Coleman (Harvard University), R. Gagné (University of Cambridge), C.C. de Jonge (Leiden University), C. Pieper (Leiden University), T. Reinhardt (Oxford University)

Editorial address:
"Although the book is not organized chronologically, all passages are remarkably well contextualized and introduced, making it easy for the reader to understand the issues at stake. On the whole the monograph is thoughtfully structured and delivers what the author promises in the introduction: an intertextual study of passages featuring interactions between men and animals in Valerius’ Argonautica, with a focus on emotions."
Melissande Tomcik in BMCR 2023.03.29

General Introduction
 1 Background 1: Discussions in Valerian Scholarship
 2 Background 2: The Literary & Cultural Contexts of Valerius’ Animals
 3 Methodology

1 Empathy: Animal Experience in Simile
 1 Bulls & Herds: Safety in Numbers
 2 The Animal Mother: Gender & Generic Boundaries
 3 Behaviour Patterns: Life Cycles & Phases

2 Relating: Human/Animal Interactions
 1 Human Dominion
 2 Human & Animal Trans-Species Collaboration

3 Identity: Human Appropriation of Animal Skins
 1 Heroic Identification
 2 (Re)emergence of the Animal

4 Presence: Animal Emissaries & Cult Companions
 1 Sight: Jupiter’s Birds
 2 Sound: The Animal Voice

5 Serpentine: Meditation on the Monstrous
 1 Snaky Monsters & the New World Order
 2 Snakes on Cyzicus, Arg. 3.456–458
 3 Medea & Her draco

General Conclusion

Appendix: Indices of Animal & Related References in Valerius Flaccus.
This book would be of most interest to university libraries for students and instructors in Classics and/or Literature. The book is accessible to graduate students and upper level undergraduates, and would appeal most to those interested in teaching and studying Latin literature (particularly [Flavian] epic) and Roman cultural history, and those pursuing research in Animal Studies, Environmental Studies, Posthumanism, and the field of ethics as it pertains to the non-human.
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