Setting limits, pushing boundaries : Tacitus’ 'Agricola' and the simulacrum of history
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This thesis investigates the generic hybridity of Tacitus’ Agricola, a text whose experimental nature still represents a literary puzzle, not only within Tacitus’ historiographical output, but also as a piece of Roman literature produced during the Imperial period. This research aims to look more closely at the interpretative potential of the generic overlapping taking place in the Agricola, arguing that the text exhibits an author thinking and operating historiographically within the frame of a Roman vita. How does the generic instability of the Agricola affect its interpretability? I shall demonstrate that the experimentation readers can perceive in the Agricola at the level of forms emphasises the question of how to represent the past under autocratic regimes, especially from a senatorial perspective. I argue that Tacitus’ first work is a sophisticated metaphor in that it depicts Agricola setting the limits of the empire, and at the same time it envisages the Agricola pushing the boundaries of genre – which accordingly calls into question the very function of history writing in Tacitus’ day. By analysing the text’s macro and micro-structures (from the structural rings down to sentence structure), this thesis will illustrate the way in which the Agricola exhibits a war narrative embedded within a biography. Furthermore, by reading Tacitus’ Agricola in its historico-literary setting, this thesis will contribute to advance our understanding of the phenomenon of transitions as experienced by Romans during the Imperial age. Particularly in the Agricola, the aesthetics of transition exhibits the manner in which literature is employed to provide successive political crises with a palliative and coherent narrative, making sense of the change and asserting the role Tacitus and his peers must perform within the new historico-literary landscape.
Thesis, MPhil Master of Philosophy
Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 Internationalhttp://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/
Embargo Date: 2024-02-20
Embargo Reason: Thesis restricted in accordance with University regulations. Electronic copy restricted until 20th February 2024
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