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Greek Tragedy in Vergil's Aeneid: Ritual, Empire, and Intertext

Greek Tragedy in Vergil's Aeneid: Ritual, Empire, and Intertext BOOK REVIEWS / 329 that are deeply conscious not only of external audiences — readers and spectators — but also of internal audiences, who, in fulfilling their role as viewers, draw attention to and indeed shape our own position as witnesses. They are thus ripe for the kinds of patient, dense readings that are Ballengee’s preferred modus operandi. Ballengee’s method is most successful in the last chapter, an analysis of the representation of the martyrdom of Romanus in Prudentius’s Peristephanon Liber. The poem provides the book’s most clear-cut scene of torture, performed as a deliberate show of imperial power. Romanus’s wounds, however, do not simply materialize Roman force. They communicate subversively as well, manifesting the power of the Christian God. Romanus’s story thus illustrates beautifully the unstable meaning of the tortured body. But what does it mean to say that the body’s injuries speak God’s word? The question is posed vividly by the case of Romanus, whose wounds are described as mouths after his torturers cut out his tongue. Ballengee interprets this displacement of speech as the liberation of a higher truth, one situated by Prudentius “outside the sphere of grammatical language” (115), “beyond interpretation” (116). To explore http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Comparative Literature Duke University Press

Greek Tragedy in Vergil's Aeneid: Ritual, Empire, and Intertext

Comparative Literature , Volume 63 (3) – Jun 20, 2011

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Publisher
Duke University Press
Copyright
Copyright © Duke Univ Press
ISSN
0010-4124
eISSN
1945-8517
DOI
10.1215/00104124-1335869
Publisher site
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Abstract

BOOK REVIEWS / 329 that are deeply conscious not only of external audiences — readers and spectators — but also of internal audiences, who, in fulfilling their role as viewers, draw attention to and indeed shape our own position as witnesses. They are thus ripe for the kinds of patient, dense readings that are Ballengee’s preferred modus operandi. Ballengee’s method is most successful in the last chapter, an analysis of the representation of the martyrdom of Romanus in Prudentius’s Peristephanon Liber. The poem provides the book’s most clear-cut scene of torture, performed as a deliberate show of imperial power. Romanus’s wounds, however, do not simply materialize Roman force. They communicate subversively as well, manifesting the power of the Christian God. Romanus’s story thus illustrates beautifully the unstable meaning of the tortured body. But what does it mean to say that the body’s injuries speak God’s word? The question is posed vividly by the case of Romanus, whose wounds are described as mouths after his torturers cut out his tongue. Ballengee interprets this displacement of speech as the liberation of a higher truth, one situated by Prudentius “outside the sphere of grammatical language” (115), “beyond interpretation” (116). To explore

Journal

Comparative LiteratureDuke University Press

Published: Jun 20, 2011

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