Spectacular Claudian. Immersive scenes in late antique epic

Begin - Einde 
2022 - 2025 (lopend)
Vakgroep Letterkunde



Let’s put on 3D glasses as we enter and immerse ourselves in the poetic universe of Claudius Claudianus, active at the court of the 4th-century Roman emperor Honorius and one of the most productive and successful poets of Late Antiquity. This project focuses on a widely neglected aspect of Claudian´s poetic technique: the function of performative elements (i.e. poetic and rhetorical strategies in a text which directly interact with its audience) in the impressive epic scenes which adorn almost every one of his poems. These are stand-alone passages which use highly elaborate allegorical narratives to praise Honorius and the general Stilicho, by means of rich poetry immersing the audience in a new and sublime reality. Those passages which evoke the kinds of spectacle characteristic of the late Roman Empire (such as hunting displays in the area, chariot races, athletic performances, and plays) are particularly intriguing, for they were both hugely popular and highly significant elements in the self-representation of the aristocrats who sponsored them (they are represented, for example, in famous mosaics decorating rooms in élite villas). Taking inspiration from modern theories of performativity and especially of narrative immersion or immersivity, this project proposes to analyze Claudian’s oeuvre so as to uncover the variety of immersive effects it produces, and to compare Claudian´s poetry with late antique visual representations. How are such scenes interacting with their audiences? Are they meant to become true spectacles themselves and as such to compete with, for instance, theatrical apparatuses? This project develops a new and productive hermeneutical tool which will allow readers to navigate the poetic universe of late antiquity from a novel multidimensional perspective.



Postdoctorale medewerker(s)