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The module will allow students to investigate the relationship between power and its modes of representation in the Greco-Roman world: how is power represented? What counts as a powerful representation? Is power always political? Was power ever erotic? Personal? In term 1, the focus is on Rome. The Civil War profoundly changed, fractured and problematised Roman identity, and in the years afterward, Roman poets turned to epic poetry to make sense of the trauma. This term focuses on the impact of civil strife in the works of Virgil, Ovid, Lucan and Statius, to ask: does the hero still exist, or is he merely a figment of the mythical imagination? How has the position of women changed since the civil war? What has become of the Roman self? In term 2 the module turns back to Greece and the epic origins of political thought in the Iliad before moving on to choral lyric poetry. The module then aims to inform how these issues are explored and manipulated by the poetics of Athenian democracy, and in late fifth-century Greek historiography and rhetoric.

Module Aims

  • Acquire a broad knowledge of a variety of texts in a range of genres in which power is represented, discussed, or critiqued;
  • Gain an understanding of the availability, uses and limits of literary sources for constructions and representations of power, from archaic Greece to the Roman principate;
  • Appreciate interactions between literary form and discourses of power;
  • Gain the ability to situate literary texts in broader cultural and ideological contexts