My project focuses on the immersive potential of epic scenes involving Roman spectacles in late Latin poetry. By spectacles I refer to the known popular Roman events, such as chariot races, hunting games, gladiatorial fights, musical or stage competitions. In particular, I focus on two influential poets from the end of the 4th and the beginning of the 5th century CE, Claudian and Prudentius.
My aim is to analyze how such “spectacular” scenes are able, through rhetorical strategies and verbal cues in the text expressing, for example, feelings, colors, or physical movement, to invite our mind and virtual body to experience the characters’ acting in the storyworld, and thus to engage the reader’s attention in terms of an immersive experience. For this aim, I find what is usually called the enactive approach very useful, i.e. how readers, through the own experiences and interactions with the world around us, are able to virtually re-enact what a text presents and feel thus in a way connected to it.
At the same time, and assuming as correct the considerations of cognitive sciences about the quasi-dialectic entanglement between constant features of human cognition in the interaction or experience with a text, and the variable elements determined by an audience’s specific cultural context, I aim a comparison between the effect of textual representations and the way in which other visual media depicting spectacles such as late antique sarcophagi and mosaics can act upon viewers. This project develops thus a new and productive hermeneutical tool which will allow readers to navigate the poetic universe of late antiquity from a novel multidimensional perspective.