THE ROMAN HANNIBAL: Remembering the Enemy in Silius Italicus’ Punica

Classics for All Reviews

By Claire Stocks

Liverpool University Press (2014) h/b 276pp £71.87 (ISBN 9781781380284)

Much has been done in the past half-century, says S., to rehabilitate Silius, and indeed a hero called Spaltenstein has published a Commentary (in three volumes) on the entire opus—17 Books, 12,000 lines, the longest poem in Latin: even the Dindorfs must have raised a ghostly cheer. As the title implies, S.’s work, which started as a PhD thesis at Cambridge, is ‘about Hannibal as he exists in Rome’s literature, the foreign foe in recognisable form: this is the Hannibal that Rome built’. The eleven chapters include ‘Before Silius: the Creation of the Roman Hannibal’ (including Polybius, Cicero, and Cornelius Nepos); ‘Silius’ Influences’ (Livy comes into his own); ‘Epic Models’ (Ennius, dealt with necessarily in cursory fashion, Homer, and—obviously—Virgil), ‘Hannibal’s decline after Cannae’, including ‘Succumbing to luxury’, ‘The “Lightning Bolts” of War’ (enter Scipio), and ‘The Man…

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