Sculpture and book cover

Caesar Conquers Rome: Observations on the Presence of Ovid in Lucan’s Bellum Civile

1:00pm - 2:00pm / Thursday 13th May 2021
Type: Seminar / Category: Department
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Severin Hof
(University of Zurich)
The relevance of Ovid for Lucan’s Bellum civile has not yet been fully explored. One important step in this direction, however, was made by S. Wheeler in his paper ‘Lucan’s Reception of Ovid’s Metamorphoses’ (Arethusa 35/3, 2002, pp. 361-380), where he argues that the Bellum civile constitutes a ‘massive interpolation’ (p. 375) between the vv. 15,752 and 15,753 of the Metamorphoses in that it foregrounds Caesar’s activities during the civil war which Ovid had glossed over, thus undercutting the optimism of Ovid’s panegyric to Augustus at the end of his epic. I would like to supplement this thematic argument for the relevance of Ovid for the Bellum civile by retracing how Lucan systematically deploys Ovidian language and imagery in the first books of the Bellum civile, the narrative of Caesar entering Rome, in order to vilify him. Particularly, Caesar is presented as the opposite of Ovid’s, especially the Metamorphoses’, Augustus. In this way, Caesar does not appear as a necessary precursor of Augustus within a development towards an age of restored order, but rather as a force of disorder in a ‘cosmos’ marked by the fundamental impossibility of (creating) order.

Please email Rachael Cornwell ( or Daniel Lowes ( for the zoom link.