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date: 22 August 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines the influence of rhetorical education on the stylistic development of epic poetry in ancient Rome, focusing in particular on the works of Ovid (Metamorphoses) and Lucan (Civil War) (although the role of rhetoric in Virgil’s Aeneid is also briefly discussed). As both ancient and modern commentators have noted, training in rhetorical declamation at school seems to have fostered in Roman students the use of stylistic tropes, figures, and mannerisms that can also be discerned in the verse of Ovid and Lucan. These figures include hyperbole, paradox, and the formulation of clever sententiae, elements frequently designed to engage the intellect as much as the emotions. Although such devices often complement the artistic aims of these poets, their prevalence points to a complex and fascinating interaction between rhetoric and epic composition, producing a subgenre sometimes labeled rhetorical epic.

Keywords: rhetoric, epic poetry, Ovid, Lucan, Virgil, declamation, hyperbole, paradox, sententiae

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