AbstractsLanguage, Literature & Linguistics

Some word-grouping in Lucan's Pharsalia

by Isabell Johnson

Institution: University of Missouri – Columbia
Year: 1911
Record ID: 1550554
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10355/15619


The first century after Christ, known as the Silver Age of Roman Literature, was marked by a brutal despotism, which stifled all independent intellectual life. Affectation and hypocrisy were the result of the embargo laid by tyranny upon sincerity and truth. The establishment and development of the far-reaching system of spies cultivated in the people the qualities of secretiveness, artificiality and insincerity. This condition resulted in producing an unnatural people, - men and women who dared not express their true feelings, but who acted their part, as players on a stage. There was an additional reason for this artificiality affecting the literature of the period. Juvenal in his Satires gives us a striking picture of the narrow limit to which the poet in his day was shut up; of the dreary round of worn out themes from which he must choose; of the danger of his dealing with current questions, or writing of people then directing the history of the Roman State. Thus it came about that the manner in which thought was expressed, the vehicle conveying it, became more important than the thought itself. True poetic feeling was replaced by brilliant rhetoric, simplicity by artificiality and straining for effects. The attention of the reader, which could not be arrested by the depth of feeling displayed by the poet, must be caught by some new, or neatly turned phrase. The interest which could not be won by the worth of the theme, must be won by the worth of phrase, or the skillful arrangement of words. It is the purpose of this paper to call attention to some of the more striking word groupings of Lucan. The examples submitted have been collected after a careful reading of Books I and VI of the Pharsalia.