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7. RHETORICAL EPIC

(a) Rhetoric in Lucan

Lucan's rhetorical style—whether it is formulated as the compulsion to be 'dramatic and colourful, vibrant with hyperbole and epigram', 123 or as a search for pathos through paradox, sententiae, rhetorical colores, and momentary effects achieved at the expense of plot and character continuity124—has often been claimed as the specific characteristic of his poem,125 and the subject of Lucan's rhetorical technique has been pg 48called (with admissible hyperbole) inexhaustible.126 Getty (liii–lxvi) itemized a number of rhetorical tropes and figures both defined by Quintilian and present in book one, viz. metaphor (7 n., 57 n., 68 n., 100–3 n., 262–4 n., 292–3 n., 348 n., 498–503 n.), synecdoche (1 n., 142 n., 398 n., 640 n.; cf. also introductory notes at 266–95 and 673–95), metonymy (35 n., 43 n., 47 n., 54 n., 64 n., 177 n., 178–9 n., 219 n., 255 n., 299 n., 319 n., 374 n., 396 n., 414 n., 463 n., 466 n., 468 n.), antonomasia (as at 35 Tonanti; 95 n., 484 n., 662 n.), onomatopoeia, catachresis (314 n.), metalepsis (as at 2 canimus), epithet, allegory, periphrasis (1 n., 15–18 n., 106 n., 166–7 n., 216 n., 238 n., 252 n., 367–8 n., 405 n., 536 n., 611 n., 634 n., 684 n.), hyperbaton (27 n., 137 n., 210 n., 286 n., 293–5 n., 464–5 n., 493 n., 591 n., 595 n., 603 n.), and hyperbole (see below §8). The approach of clustering these together in an overview of the rhetorical nature of the poem has drawn criticism both for the distorting effect of concentrating on discrete effects, and for being potentially limitless in its extent without conveying adequately Lucan's particular rhetorical style.127 It has on the other hand the distinct merit of discussing rhetorical aspects of Lucan's style in specific terms. Morford approached Lucan's rhetorical style through the relevant broader divisions of rhetoric, inuentio, dispositio, and elocutio.128 For inuentio in book one, see above §6 (a)–(e). For Lucan's dispositio of his material in book one, see above §2. For his arrangement and structure of discrete scenes within book one, see detailed introductory comments at 1–7, 8–32, 67–97, 98–120, 120–57, 183–227, 228–65, 266–95, 296–351, 352–91, 392–465, 466–522, 522–83, 584–638, 639–72, and 673–95. For comments pertaining to Lucan's elocutio, see below §8.

(b) Declamatory Epic

The Annaei had an interest in declamation which they sustained across three generations.129 Seneca the Elder heard all of the major figures of declamation from the death of Cicero until after the death pg 49of Augustus. Late in his life, he recorded the speeches and topics of his contemporaries, so that his sons could evaluate them at first hand rather than by hearsay (Sen. Contr. 1 pr.). It was at the request of his sons—Novatus (later adopted by the declaimer Junius Gallio), Seneca the Younger, and Mela (Lucan's father)—that he composed the Controuersiae and Suasoriae; and they in turn took their father to hear contemporary declaimers (Sen. Contr. 10 pr. 2, 9). Vacca writes that Lucan himself was highly regarded as a declaimer in his youth;130 and it appears that Lucan composed a pair of declamations on the murder trial of Octavius Sagitta in 58.131 In adopting the subject of the civil war for his epic, Lucan was covering ground—in terms of events, themes, and individuals—that was very familiar to exponents of declamation. Caesar, Pompey, and Cato, as well as Sulla, Cicero, Antony, Brutus, and Sextus Pompeius, are all attested as subjects of declamations in various ethical conundrums in the first century of the imperial period.132 Cicero had himself rehearsed what were in effect suasoriae on various theses to do with tyranny and opposition in order to help him decide whether or not to support Pompey in 49 (Cic. Att. 9.4).

  Lucan's emphasis upon tyranny throughout BC (4 n., 76–9 n., 258 n., 289–90 n.) is consistent with the thematic emphasis placed upon it in declamation; so too his emphasis upon the fratricidal nature of the civil war: Papirius Fabianus had expansively compared a domestic dispute with a civil conflict which pitted members of the same family against one another (Sen. Contr. 2.1.10; see also below §7 (c)).133 The speeches to Caesar of Curio (273–91) and Laelius (359–86) reflect in a particularly strong manner the influence of declamatory rhetoric on BC in a number of ways. The setting of these speeches evokes suasoriae of the style 'Hannibal at the Alps' (and cf. Caesar as Hannibal in BC), or 'Alexander at Ocean':134 they urge Caesar to act, and demonstrate how this action is consistent with the character of the great man. The presentation of Laelius' speech is, in effect, a variation on the philosophical thesis 'ought one to obey one's father in all things?' (cf. Arist. Eth. Nic. 9.2; Sen. Ep. pg 50101.15; Quint. Decl. 257); the centurion merely substitutes his general for his father (and at 376, his obedience is demonstrated by the oath to kill his biological father). Indeed the introduction of Laelius' family obligations into his argument at 374–8—if only to reject them in the face of partisan loyalty—is consistent with the concern with familial obligations in suasoriae.135 The paradox of obedience (and possible victory) in civil war and the competing ethical claims upon Laelius are also completely consistent with the development of this thesis in declamatory rhetoric.136

(c) The Elder Seneca

The direct influence of the Controuersiae and Suasoriae collated by the Elder Seneca on BC 1 is less prominent than the pervasive general influence of declamatory rhetoric on Lucan and his work. Porcius Latro, adopting Marius in Africa as an exemplum of the mutability of fortune, transitions back to the domestic context of his controuersia at Contr. 1.1.3 quid porro tam longe exempla repeto, tamquam domi desit? Lucan forswears foreign and mythological exempla for his national history at lines 94–7 nec gentibus ullis | credite nec longe fatorum exempla petantur. Latro's paradox at Contr. 1.8.1 fugit me filius, et quidem ad hostem? is transmuted in Lucan into a compressed version of the same basic paradox at 504 in bellum fugitur. Arellius Fuscus invokes Crassus as an exemplum at Contr. 2.1.7 tu, Crasse, post euestigata illa fugitiuorum arma urbis Romanae diuitissimus ciuis, nunc apud Parthos eges sepulchro quoque. Lucan again compresses the language of declamation at 11 umbraque erraret Crassus inulta (with note ad loc.). The rhetorical questions of Papirius Fabianus, treating civil wars at Contr. 2.1.10—quae causa hominem aduersus hominem in facinus coegit? … quae tanta uos pestis, cum una stirps idemque sanguis sitis, quaeue furiae in mutuum sanguinem egere?—are re-echoed in Lucan's proem at 8 quis furor, o ciues, quae tanta licentia ferri?, esp. 67–70 fert animus causas tantarum expromere rerum, | inmensumque aperitur opus, quid in arma furentem | inpulerit pg 51populum, quid pacem excusserit orbi (cf. also 84, 158).137 The appearence of Pyrrhus as an exemplum in Contr. 5.2 may also help contextualize Lucan's choice of Pyrrhus at line 30.

  Further light is shed on Lucan's declamatory inheritance in the Suasoriae. The notion at Suas. 1.3 Alexander orbi magnus est, Alexandro orbis angustus est, has its sequel in Luc. 1.109–11 diuiditur ferro regnum, populique potentis, | quae mare, quae terras, quae totum possidet orbem, | non cepit fortuna duos. Likewise, the rhetorical strategy of Lucan's Curio at 284–5 bellantem geminis tenuit te Gallia lustris, | pars quota terrarum! facili si proelia pauca | gesseris euentu, tibi Roma subegerit orbem is descended from the line of reasoning of Arellius Fuscus' Alexander at Suas. 4.3 erit aliquis orbe toto locus qui te victorem non viderit? Babylon ei cluditur cui patuit Oceanus? Lucan's frenzied matrona at 678–94 seems also to draw on the language and content of Suas. 6.6 uidimus furentia toto orbe ciuilia arma, et post Italicas Pharsaliasque acies Romanum sanguinem hausit Aegyptus.

Notes

123 Morford (1967) 87.

124 Narducci (2007) 387, applying to Lucan the criticism of Leo (1878) 147–59 on Seneca's 'rhetorical tragedy'.

125 Goebel (1981) 79; Bramble (1982) 533 f.; Hunink (1992) xiii.

126 Morford (1967) 1; Mayer (1981) 14.

127 Fordyce (1940) 95 f.; Morford (1967) 1.

128 Morford (1967).

129 On Lucan and declamation: Bonner (1966): Morford (1967).

130 declamauit et graece et latine cum magna admiratione audientium.

131 prosa oratio in Octauium Sagittam et pro eo.

132 See Jal (1963) 303 with references.

133 Narducci (2007) 389.

134 Bloomer (2007) 301–4.

135 Bloomer (2007) 304.

136 Bloomer (2007) 301.

137 See too Bonner (1966) 259.

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