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“As Lucan says”: Dante's Reuse of the Bellum Civile in the Monarchia and the Political Epistles

Facchini, B; (2019) “As Lucan says”: Dante's Reuse of the Bellum Civile in the Monarchia and the Political Epistles. Mediaevalia , 40 pp. 81-106. 10.1353/mdi.2019.0003. Green open access

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Abstract

This article examines Dante’s redeployment of Lucan’s Bellum civile in the Monarchia and Epistles 5–7, and shows how Dante appropriates Lucan’s poem in order to support his philo-imperial agenda. In anchoring his Christian imperial ideal in the historical precedent of ancient Rome, Dante applies Lucan’s text to the task of extolling the Roman political past, considered as a continuous historical reality throughout its monarchic, Republican, and Imperial phases. In so doing, Dante both emphasizes philo-Roman elements already implicit in the Bellum civile and quotes Lucanian passages out of context, thus altering or notably twisting their original meaning. Dante glosses over Lucan’s denunciation of inter-Roman civil wars and focuses, rather, on the conflicts that ancient Rome fought and won against its external enemies. Moreover, Dante rereads ancient Roman history as governed by Divine Providence and transforms Lucan’s pessimistic historical account into a Christian teleological narrative. In the Epistles, Dante claims that true freedom is only possible under a single ruler and implicitly equates the evils of the Roman civil war with the chaos and anarchy of anti-imperial Florence

Type: Article
Title: “As Lucan says”: Dante's Reuse of the Bellum Civile in the Monarchia and the Political Epistles
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1353/mdi.2019.0003
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1353/mdi.2019.0003
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Dept of Greek and Latin
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10069507
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