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From Republic to Empire

Scipio Africanus in the "Punica</I> of Silius Italicus


Raymond Marks

From Republic to Empire challenges the long-held view that Silius Italicus’ Punica is a nostalgic epic and argues that it is, instead, centrally concerned with and fundamentally shaped by the contemporary Flavian world in which it was composed. The epic documents how Rome’s Republic took its first steps toward becoming an Empire during the Second Punic War and identifies the leader Scipio Africanus as the critical impetus behind this development: his rise to prominence in the war’s later stages brings about a change in Rome’s power-structure, a shift toward one-man rule, Scipio’s «rule», that prefigures and paves the way for the political arrangement under which the poet himself lived, the Principate. In portraying Scipio as a good king and a virtuous princeps, Silius, furthermore, offers the emperor of his own day, Domitian, a leadership-ideal to aspire to and emulate.
Contents: The «Scipionization» of Rome – Reinvigoration and Rejuvenation – From the Many to the One – Scipio’s Kingship – The Education of Scipio – Scipio the King – From Republic to Empire – Scipio the Princeps – Republic and Principate.