The historical importance of Claudian as writer of panegyric and propaganda for the court of Honorius is well established but his poetry has been comparatively neglected: only recently has his work been the subject of modern literary criticism. Taking as its starting point Claudian's claim to be the heir to Virgil, this book examines his poetry as part of the Roman epic tradition. Discussing first what we understand by epic and its relevance for late antiquity, Catherine Ware argues that, like Virgil and later Roman epic poets, Claudian analyses his contemporary world in terms of classical epic. Engaging intertextually with his literary predecessors, Claudian updates concepts such as furor and concordia, redefining Romanitas to exclude the increasingly hostile east, depicting enemies of the west as new Giants and showing how the government of Honorius and his chief minister, Stilicho, have brought about a true golden age for the west.
Catherine Ware is currently undertaking research at the University of Liverpool after having been awarded a mobility post-doctoral fellowship by the Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences. Specialising in the epic tradition and the literature of late antiquity, she is now working on the Panegyrici Latini project, preparing commentaries on two of the speeches in honour of the emperor Constantine.
Introduction; 1. Panegyric-epic; 2. Roman epic; 3. Defining the empire; 4. Cycles of time; 5. Enemies of Roman order; 6. The golden age I: Virgil and Claudian; 7. The golden age II: the individual.