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Animals and Animal-Human Dynamics in Valerius Flaccus' Argonautica

Mackay, Anne Tuttle; (2019) Animals and Animal-Human Dynamics in Valerius Flaccus' Argonautica. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Animals have come into their own as subjects for research across the Humanities, and recent work focuses on animals in classical culture, animal imagery in different literary genres, and even animal empathy in Greek literature. My thesis, however, is among the first sustained studies on animals—their representation, poetic function, and interactions with humans—in a single work. The study is backgrounded by research on the Argonautica itself; animal similes; the cultural significance of animals in Rome; and representations and development of animal subjectivity in Latin literature. I analyze a significant proportion of VF’s animals in diverse contexts, and divide the thesis based on those contexts. I first look at similes, for example, like those which highlight the individual experience and development of birds, and those which explore the relationship between epic tradition and portrayals of animals like lions. Animals interacting with humans in the narrative feature in the second half, as victims of human violence—e.g. a sacrificial bull—or as companions and partners, like war-dogs and -horses. My methodology blends several approaches, examining animals and their relationships with humans, via intertextual and narratological analysis and aspects of empathy, reception, and (occasionally) a wary, self-conscious anthropocentrism. I explore how animal perception, behaviour, and interactions with humans operate in VF’s narrative art. Drawing from the scholarship on Valerian themes and poetics, my work demonstrates how animals function within the epic programme, signifying beyond their immediate contexts, on the levels of political and philosophical messaging; personal experience, identity and development; power negotiations, relationships, and communication. The result is fresh illumination of VF, his context, and poetic technique—especially with respect to how he ‘thinks with’ animals—and finally, the implications for reading animal-human relations as he wrote them in his own time, and for evaluating those relations in the present.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Animals and Animal-Human Dynamics in Valerius Flaccus' Argonautica
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2019. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/ 4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms.
Keywords: Animals and Classics, Animals in Epic, Animal Empathy, Valerius Flaccus, Flavian Epic, Intertextuality, Animal Similes, Valerius Flaccus Argonautica, Argonautica
UCL classification: UCL
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
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/10075997
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