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Diletta Vignola, Università di Genova

This Postgraduate-work-in-progress seminar will be held online via Zoom and in person in room 102, Senate House. Booking is required.
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The aim of the present paper is to explore how the reception of Seneca’s oeuvre affects the way in which Silius Italicus depicts the character of Hannibal. At first, taking as my starting point some studies focused on the theme of anger in the Punica (see Giazzon 2011, Antoniadis 2018) and in its main model, Virgil’s Aeneid, (see Thornton 1976, Galinsky 1988), I shall try to show how Silius outdoes Virgil in problematizing anger as a specific philosophical issue. My argument will be that the reception of Seneca’s philosophical works plays an important role in this process and provides the poet with subtle philosophical tools. Subsequently, I will focus on the physical representation of the members of the Barca family, with the aim of proving that anger in this case can be considered as a sort of hereditary trait, which Hannibal shares with his father Hamilcar and with his toddler son (see the description of Hannibal at 11.218-24, the one of Hamilcar at 2.429-31 and 13.732-4, and even the one of Hannibal’s toddler at 3.75-7). Moreover, it will be worth noticing that the lexicon and the images used in all these passages seem to be inspired by the phenomenology of anger which Seneca outlines in his De ira. In conclusion, having a quick look at Senecan drama, I will concentrate on the characterization of Hannibal as a proper tyrannus (Sil.11.31 and passim), underlining the fact that on some occasions his behaviour seems to match exactly the paradigm of the tragic tyrant, traditionally embodied by characters such as Atreus (in Seneca’s Thyestes) and Creon (in Seneca’s Medea): Silius’ Hannibal, just as his Senecan models, is so cruel that, in order to inflict more pain on his opponents, he is even capable… of sparing their lives!