Ambiguities of War: A Narratological Commentary on Silius Italicus’ Battle of Ticinus (Sil. 4.1-479)


This Narratological Commentary on Silius’ Battle of Ticinus lays bare the narrative form of the text by addressing numerous narratological aspects, including plot-development, focalization, space, and intertextuality. The book also focuses on the phenomenon of ambiguity with its dynamic processes of (un-)strategic production, perception, and resolution. Ambiguity is a central feature of the Punica because of the epic’s constant oscillation between fact and fiction: it treats the changing fortunes of war and the tension between Rome and Carthage, which Silius translates into a moment of poetical equilibrium by his paradoxical problematization of triumph in defeat and defeat through triumph.

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Elisabeth Schedel, Dr. phil. (2020), Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen, is lecturer of Latin literature. She has recently published a chapter on the potential and limitations of narratological close-readings of epic fragments (in Reitz/Finkmann, Structures of Epic Poetry I, Brill, 2019).


1 Premises, Objectives, Goals

2 Approaches and Methods

3 Ambiguity

4 The Structure of Book 4

5 Conceptual Structure: How to Use This Commentary


1 Scene 1: 1–55 Ausonia before the Outbreak of the Battles

2 Summary of 56–479: The Battle of Ticinus

3 Scene 2: 56–142 The First Encounter of the Armies

4 Scene 3: 143–188 The Attack of the Boians

5 Scene 4: 189–247 The Roman Counterattack

6 Scene 5: 248–310 Single Combat between the Consul and Crixus

7 Scene 6: 311–354 The Attack of the Carthaginians

8 Scene 7: 355–400 The Combat between Two Sets of Triplets

9 Scene 8: 401–479 The Consul Scipio in Trouble and his Rescue

All interested in Silius’ historical epic Punica, especially in the battle of Ticinus (Sil. 4.1-479). And anyone concerned with theoretical, especially narratological approaches to ancient texts and questions of ambiguity.
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