Silius Italicus' Punica, the longest surviving epic in Latin literature, has seen a resurgence of interest among scholars in recent years.
A celebration of Rome's triumph over Hannibal and Carthage during the second Punic war, Silius' poem presents a plethora of familiar names to its readers: Fabius Maximus, Claudius Marcellus, Scipio Africanus and, of course, Rome's `ultimate enemy' - Hannibal. Where most recent scholarship on the Punica has focused its attention of the problematic portrayal of Scipio Africanus as a hero for Rome, this book shifts the focus to Carthage and offers a new reading of Hannibal's place in Silius' epic, and in Rome's literary culture at large.
Celebrated and demonised in equal measure, Hannibal became something of an anti-hero for Rome; a man who acquired mythic status, and was condemned by Rome's authors for his supposed greed and cruelty, yet admired for his military acumen. For the first time this book provides a comprehensive overview of this multi-faceted Hannibal as he appears in the Punica and suggests that Silius' portrayal of him can be read as the culmination to Rome's centuries-long engagement with the Carthaginian in its literature.
Through detailed consideration of internal focalisation, Silius' Hannibal is revealed to be a man striving to create an eternal legacy, becoming the Hannibal whom a Roman, and a modern reader, would recognise.
The works of Polybius, Livy, Virgil, and the post Virgilian epicists all have a bit-part in this book, which aims to show that Silius Italicus' Punica is as much an example of how Rome remembered its past, as it is a text striving to join Rome's epic canon.