The Inaugural SAIG/GSC Dissertation Lecture
The AIA’s Student Affairs Interest Group (SAIG) and SCS’s Graduate Student Committee (GSC) are pleased to announce the 2021 SAIG/GSC Dissertation Lecture! This annual talk is a collaborative effort intended to highlight the work of a senior doctoral candidate whose research features interdisciplinary work between the fields of archaeology and classical philology, and to support the student networks between these related fields.
As the first SAIG/GSC Dissertation Lecturer, Elizabeth Heintges, doctoral candidate at Columbia University, will present “Forgetting Sextus Pompey: the bellum Siculum and Vergil’s Aeneid,” integrating both literary and material evidence into an analysis of two major moments in Roman Republican history. Please see the poster and abstract below for more details.
The lecture will be held virtually on Thursday, April 22, 2021 at 5:00 pm EST.
Please register here in advance of this Zoom webinar.
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Forgetting Sextus Pompey: the bellum Siculum and Vergil’s Aeneid
Elizabeth Heintges, PhD Candidate, Columbia University
Thursday, April 22, 2021 at 5:00 pm EST
This paper examines the resonances between the Sicilian episodes in Vergil’s Aeneid and the historical bellum Siculum fought between the triumvirs and Sextus Pompey from 42-36 BCE. As contemporary accounts of this conflict are largely absent from the historical record (or otherwise follow the Res Gestae in characterizing the war as a pacification of the sea from pirates), the insights brought to bear by material sources—most significantly, the competing coinages of Sextus and Octavian, as well as Augustus’ later victory monuments—offer new insights into the dynamics at play between Vergil’s mythical Sicily and its very real and recent past. The numismatic evidence, when considered in tandem with the narratives of Appian and Cassius Dio, bears witness to the unique interplay between appropriation and suppression of Sextus’ iconographic and ideological program undertaken by Octavian after the battle of Naulochus in 36 BCE—an interplay that is likewise mirrored in Vergil’s poem in Aeneas’ circumnavigation of Sicily in Book 3 and in the ship race of Book 5.
Over the past decade, scholars have increasingly noted the importance of understanding Vergil’s Sicily in light of the conflicts of the First Punic War. Roman naval victories of the period appear to have garnered renewed interest at the end of the first century BCE outside the realm of literary production, given Augustus’ engagement with the commemorative monuments for Gaius Duilius’ victory at Mylae in 260 BCE. As we will have seen, the historical echoes in Vergil’s Sicily are not limited to the Punic Wars alone; instead, the poet uses the island in Aeneid 5—a turning-point in the narrative and a thematic hinge between Trojan past and Roman future—in order to collapse the time and space between these two major moments in Republican history.