Patterns of redemption in Virgil's Georgics


Patterns of redemption in Virgil's Georgics

Llewelyn Morgan

(Cambridge classical studies)

Cambridge University Press, 1999

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Revision of the author's thesis (Ph.D.)--Trinity College, Cambridge

Bibliography: p. 236-251

Includes index



At the time of this book's first publication in 1999, orthodoxy interpreted the Georgics as a statement of profound ambivalence towards Octavian and his claim to be Rome's saviour after the catastrophe of the civil wars. This book takes issue with the model of the subtly subversive poet. It argues that in the turbulent political circumstances which obtained at the time of the poem's composition, Virgil's preoccupation with violent conflict has a highly optimistic import. Octavian's brutal conduct in the civil wars is subjected to a searching analysis, but is ultimately vindicated, refigured as a paradoxically constructive violence analogous to blood sacrifice or Romulus' fratricide of Remus. The vindication of Octavian also has strictly literary implications for Virgil. The close of the poem sees Virgil asserting his mastery of the Homeric mode of poetry and the providential world-view it was thought to embody.


  • Introduction
  • Part I. Prima ab Origine: 1. The Old Man of the Sea
  • 2. Aristeia
  • Part II. Mirabile Dictu: 3. Ox and paradox
  • 4. Poeta creatus
  • Postscript: Sphragis
  • Appendix I. Proteus and Proteus
  • Appendix II. 4.400
  • Appendix III. Sparsere per agros.

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