Dreams, Visions, and their Interpretation in Lucan+óGÇó++s Pharsalia

Dreams, Visions, and their Interpretation in Lucan+óGÇó++s Pharsalia (PDF)

2022 • 87 Pages • 964.9 KB • English
Posted July 01, 2022 • Submitted by Superman

Visit PDF download

Download PDF To download page

Summary of Dreams, Visions, and their Interpretation in Lucan+óGÇó++s Pharsalia

Washington University in St. Louis Washington University in St. Louis Washington University Open Scholarship Washington University Open Scholarship Arts & Sciences Electronic Theses and Dissertations Arts & Sciences Spring 5-2017 Dreams, Visions, and their Interpretation in Lucan’s Dreams, Visions, and their Interpretation in Lucan’s Pharsalia Pharsalia David Harris Washington University in St. Louis Follow this and additional works at: https://openscholarship.wustl.edu/art_sci_etds Part of the Classical Literature and Philology Commons Recommended Citation Recommended Citation Harris, David, "Dreams, Visions, and their Interpretation in Lucan’s Pharsalia" (2017). Arts & Sciences Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 1069. https://openscholarship.wustl.edu/art_sci_etds/1069 This Thesis is brought to you for free and open access by the Arts & Sciences at Washington University Open Scholarship. It has been accepted for inclusion in Arts & Sciences Electronic Theses and Dissertations by an authorized administrator of Washington University Open Scholarship. For more information, please contact [email protected] WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY IN ST. LOUIS Department of Classics Dreams, Visions, and their Interpretation in Lucan’s Pharsalia by David Michael Harris A thesis presented to The Graduate School of Washington University in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts May 2017 St. Louis, Missouri © 2017, David Harris ii Table of Contents Acknowledgments..................................................................................................................... iii Introduction ................................................................................................................................1 I: Caesar and the Vision of Roma (1.183–227)............................................................................9 II: Pompey’s Dream of Julia (3.1–45)........................................................................................25 III: Pompey in the Theater (7.7–27) ..........................................................................................40 IV: Caesar’s Nightmare (7.771–96)...........................................................................................53 Conclusion................................................................................................................................62 Bibliography.............................................................................................................................71 Appendix: The Dream and Vision Scenes of the Pharsalia.........................................................78 iii Acknowledgments My greatest thanks go to my advisor Cathy Keane. My many exchanges and conversations with her were fruitful and enjoyable. Her guidance and input were instrumental in the development of my own thoughts and ideas, and our meetings were crucial to my understanding of my own arguments and the directions I would take them. I am grateful also to my readers Tim Moore and Tom Keeline for their time, stimulating discussion, and insightful feedback. The seed of this project was planted in Karen Acton’s Lucan seminar in Spring 2016; my thanks go to her for her inspiration and comments. On a more personal note, I am grateful to my loving parents and especially to my father for reading my thesis in its various stages of development and displaying earnest interest and curiosity in my work. Last but certainly not least, thanks to my beloved wife Shelby for her emotional support during this process. David Harris Washington University in St. Louis May 2017 1 Introduction Perhaps the most striking feature of Lucan’s Pharsalia is its stance at variance from the other works in the epic tradition. Its use of dreams and visions as a literary device is no exception. The Pharsalia features only three dreams and one vision beheld by its two main characters Caesar and Pompey, in contrast with, for example, the eleven dreams in Vergil’s Aeneid.1 These four dream and vision passages in the Pharsalia are Caesar’s vision of Roma (1.183–227), Pompey’s dream of Julia (3.1–45), Pompey’s dream of his theater before the battle of Pharsalus (7.7–27), and Caesar’s dream of dead spirits after the battle (7.771–96).2 Of these, only the first introduces a divine figure (the personified city of Rome). Only the first two employ messengers, both female, as counterparts to the two male dream recipients. The final two dreams serve to bookend the pivotal moment of the poem and to reflect the fortunes of the respective dreamers. Pompey’s dream before the battle contrasts his current plight with his earlier successes, while the victorious Caesar is unaffected when the spirits of dead Romans declare him guilty. Despite their relative paucity, dreams in Lucan’s epic and the apparatus by which they function are weighted with interpretive significance and, I shall argue, are instrumental in understanding Lucan’s approach to writing historical epic.3 It is because there are so few dreams 1 Hunink (1992) 34–6. Cf. also Veremans (1975). To wit, the eleven dreams in the Aeneid are the dream of Sychaeus (1.353–60); the dream of Hector (2.268–302); the dream of the Penates (3.147–78); the dream of Anchises as Aeneas recounts to Dido (4.351–3); Dido’s dream (4.465–8); the vision of Mercury (4.554–72); the dream of Cassandra (5.636–8); the dream of Anchises (5.720–40); the oracle of Latinus (7.81–105); the dream of Allecto (7.413–61); and the dream of Tiberinus (8.26–67). See H. R. Steiner (1952) Der Traum in der Aeneis and Heinze (1915) 313–5. 2 Pace Penwill (2009), who includes the final scene of the poem, in which Caesar looks back (respexit, 10.543) and apparently sees Scaeva, as a vision. It is my opinion that this scene is too concrete to qualify as a vision, lacking the key terminology such as imago or visus, not to mention the ambiguity and uncertainty involved in the scene’s place at the end of what is most likely an incomplete poem. 3 I take the point of Morford (1967) 76, “There is little speculation about the explanation of dreams in Lucan’s dream-writing: even the passage at 7.19–24 has pathos as its primary aim. It is clear that Lucan was himself skeptical about dreams as a method of divination, and would have had serious reservations in accepting the Stoic 2 in the Pharsalia that each one stands out so prominently, making it easier to read a dialogue between them. This dialogue in turn carries meaning relating to the poem as a whole. My approach to Lucan’s dreams, and the way in which I argue we can most profitably understand them, is to frame them in terms of epic and historiography. Given that the Pharsalia is itself a historical epic, this may seem prima facie to be the most obvious way to proceed. However, there are further reasons to analyze Lucan’s dreams with the lens of historiography. As I will discuss in greater detail, the dream is an oft-used historian’s tool. By inserting a dream into a historical narrative as part and parcel of a specific historical moment (e.g. Caesar’s crossing of the Rubicon), the historian simultaneously calls attention to the event itself and applies to it a specific meaning, significance, or interpretation. The dream, with all its creative potential and malleability, therefore comprises part of the historian’s individual, subjective engagement with history. Where the dream has become part of the cultural memory of the particular event, the historian may choose to alter details or recontextualize it. With his dreams in the Pharsalia, Lucan engages in this same activity of personal engagement with the events and facts of the civil war. With all of this in mind, it will be beneficial to look briefly at other ancient frameworks in which dreams appear and by which they are understood, namely those of epic and philosophy. The origin of dreams in epic is couched in divine, mythological terms, and their employment can be traced all the way back to Homer. Homer locates the Land of Dreams beyond the streams of Ocean and near the Gates of Helios.4 Virgil famously presents the Underworld as the source of doctrine on dreams.” Morford’s reading of the Pharsalia is as a rhetorical epic. Of the dreams specifically, he remarks upon their manipulation of color. For my purposes, the presence of dreams in the Pharsalia serves more than merely a dramatic function. They lend much to our interpretation of the work as a whole without relying upon any specific framework to make them intelligible or to account for their origin and appearance. Indeed, such ambiguities are an intrinsic part of Lucan’s dreams and of the poetic world that he constructs. 4 Od. 24.11–4. Cf. Hes. Th. 211–2, where Dreams are the offspring of Night. 3 dreams, with a gate of horn for true dreams and a gate of ivory for false dreams, a model he adopts from Homer.5 Unlike these epics, however, Lucan’s Pharsalia is largely devoid of the presence of the divine; the gods do not, at least, play significant roles or appear as participants in the action as in Homer and Vergil. This, too, is a sharp deviation from epic norm, and I see these deviations as explicitly connected. It is perhaps because of this deviation that there are so few dreams in the Pharsalia.6 The same explicit connection between divine presence and the occurrence of dreams holds true in the philosophical dream traditions. I take Stoicism as a prominent example. Its relevance is motivated by the presence of Cato in his role as Stoic sage in the Pharsalia, by Lucan’s connection, for what it is worth, to his uncle Seneca, and by Lucan’s tutelage, alongside the satirist Persius, under the Stoic philosopher Cornutus. While Lucan’s personal commitment to specific tenets of Stoic doctrine may be doubted, Stoicism found increased importance and cultural significance in the intellectual and philosophical milieu of the Roman empire.7 Contrasting with the rational, scientific approach to dreams taken by Plato and Aristotle,8 the Stoic approach involves what E. R. Dodds has termed the “religious view of dreams.”9 According to the Stoics, it is because of the divine nature of the soul that humans are able to receive divine revelation.10 In De Divinatione Cicero cites examples apparently used by the Stoics in their arguments that dreams are supernatural in nature (1.27.56): 5 Aen. 6.893–6; Od. 19.562–7. 6 As has been suggested by Hunink (1992) 34. 7 On both of these points, see Fantham (1992) 11–4. 8 At Tim. 71c–72b, for example, Plato sees dreams as the product of the rational soul, yet their deeper meaning becomes obscured by their reflection in the liver, as in a mirror. It is for this reason, according to Plato, that dream interpretation is necessary. 9 Dodds (1951), 121. 10 Cicero, De Div. seems the most comprehensive ancient account of the Stoic view of dreams. At 1.64 he notes three facts relevant to the Stoic conception of dreams: that the soul has foresight by its divine nature, that the air is full of immortal souls, and that gods contact men directly in their sleep. For a deeper discussion of Stoic dream- theory, see Miller (1994), 52–5. 4 Quid? Illa duo somnia, quae creberrume commemorantur a Stoicis, quis tandem potest contemnere? Unum de Simonide: Qui cum ignotum quendam proiectum mortuum vidisset eumque humavisset haberetque in animo navem conscendere, moneri visus est, ne id faceret, ab eo, quem sepultura adfecerat; si navigavisset, eum naufragio esse periturum; itaque Simonidem redisse, perisse ceteros, qui tum navigassent. And what of those two dreams which are so frequently recalled by the Stoics? Who can disregard them? One is about Simonides, who, after finding and burying some unknown dead man, having in mind to board a ship, dreamt that he was warned not to do it by that same man whom he had buried, and that if he sailed he would die in a shipwreck. And so Simonides returned, but the rest who sailed at that time perished.11 The words visus est or such-like commonly denote the presence of dreams. This dream formula with the use of the perfect passive of videre or the nouns visus or imago will recur in Lucan to denote the presence of dreams. From this passage, we see that visions of the dead appearing in dreams originate not from the unconscious mind of the beholder but from an external source. Real, external events (Simonides’ burial of an exposed body) trigger the appearance of the dead man’s spirit. The vision or dream, then, offers prophecy relevant to the viewer himself. The present example is of a propitious vision bearing a message beneficial to its recipient, but the ancients understood (and the dreams of Pompey in the Pharsalia will furnish examples) that malevolent, intentionally deceptive dreams were also possible. The positive outcome in this case, and the accuracy of the prophecy, are vouchsafed in the anecdote itself. The content of the dream, applied to Simonides’ immediate circumstances, ends up saving his life. The nature of the vision is precipitated by Simonides’ actions immediately leading up to it: he performs a kindness for the dead man who in turn gives him a useful warning. I have presented the epic and philosophical models of dreams not as approaches to understanding the dreams of Lucan’s Pharsalia, but as background and as foils. The same fundamental features will serve as the foundation of Lucan’s use of dreams: external source, a 11 All translations throughout are my own. 5 message both provoked by the recipients’ actions and relevant to their circumstances, and vectors of these messages in dreams, spirits, or spirits appearing in dreams. However, it is the reliability of these revelations, and their ability to be categorized easily by benevolence or malevolence, truthfulness or deception, that breaks down in Lucan’s schema of dreams. It is this breakdown in the dream apparatus in the Pharsalia that provides the impetus for my investigation. Though the fundamental features of the dream are present, the outcome will be unexpected. Rather than trust in the messages’ content, as Simonides did, the heroes of the Pharsalia will opt to have an argument with them. Caesar and Pompey will attempt to demonstrate that the dreams have no bearing on reality, and in doing so will assign them meanings different than what is clearly intended. The result is that the addressees within the poem interpret their own dreams from a level of remove, like that of an external reader, divorcing the message from its literary context. I do not apply philosophical analysis to Lucan’s dreams, save briefly to Pompey’s dream of Julia in Book 3 (Chapter 2). In the absence of the divine, Lucan’s dreams take on a more naturalistic flavor. Since divine origin is such a crucial part of both the philosophical and epic conceptions of dreams, unexpected results come of the dreams in Lucan’s literary world. Here the gods, as it seems, no longer hold the sway they once did. The inversion and corruption of the late Republic as depicted in the Pharsalia is reflected in the subversion of epic techniques and topoi. On Lucan’s formulation, the genre of epic is no longer capable of describing such a world, and if the Civil War is to be told in epic, epic fixtures must be adjusted to accommodate it. The dream apparatus is one such change. Without the gods, there exists no force to vouchsafe the authenticity of dreams and visions. The characters themselves seem to recognize this fact. The response to dreams in the Pharsalia is fundamentally different than, say, Aeneas’ response to Mercury in the 6 Aeneid.12 However, Vergil’s poem is Lucan’s most important model for epic dreams. Lucan’s dreams respond to the text of the Aeneid in part through intertextual allusion.13 This allusion in turn reinforces how dreams are functioning differently in the Pharsalia, and how these dreams are in conversation intratextually as well. As the hero of the Aeneid, Aeneas serves as a foil for Caesar and Pompey as a dream recipient. While Aeneas heeds the messages in his dreams, following their instructions in keeping with the movement of the epic plot (and sacrificing part of his autonomy in the process), Caesar and Pompey, the “heroes” of the Pharsalia, do not engage with their dreams in such good faith. Dreams in Lucan’s world are no longer trustworthy sources of relevant information. Rather, Caesar and Pompey argue with the contents of their dreams, employing debate and philosophical argument to disregard them. These dreams cast aside, they come to their own conclusions and, despite messages urging the contrary, stand firmer in their convictions than before. Not only do they disregard their dreams, they prove that they can do so without consequence in the grand scheme of the epic. Dreams, then, traditionally meant to be a sort of conversation with the divine, now become divine conversations these men have with themselves, propelled by their own subjective, and now equally valid, interpretations. There exists no agent to enforce divine will. Furthermore, with the gods absent, there is room left for the dream apparatus to provide a sort of alternative battleground for hierarchies on the mortal plane to be negotiated and established. As Caesar ascends to power, his dream responses reveal a correspondent preeminence in the “divine” realm, while Pompey’s emphasize the stagnation and decline that 12 Aen. 4.279–82: At vero Aeneas aspectu obmutuit amens, / arrectaeque horrore comae et vox faucibus haesit. / ardet abire fuga dulcisque relinquere terras, / attonitus tanto monitu imperioque deorum. 13 The resonances of Lucan’s dreams with those of earlier epic and their employment in that capacity have been noted by Bernstein (2011). 7 accompany his character in the epic. Caesar’s mastery of the dream apparatus heralds him as the divine power in this new world, just as his victory in the Civil War declares him ruler of the Roman state. By this reading, the dreams in the Pharsalia thus constitute a microcosm of the grander story of poem itself. In my discussion, I will focus only on the four dream and vision scenes of the two main characters, Caesar and Pompey, following the order they appear in the text.14 I will address the two dreams of Cornelia (5.805–15; 8.43–9) as they come to bear upon those of Pompey, to which considerably more attention is given. I include Caesar’s first scene, his vision of Roma, among the dream scenes by dint of the fact that it accomplishes much the same purpose.15 I exclude the Erictho episode and the necromancy scene from my considerations on the grounds that necromancy and magic seem to belong to a separate sphere; dreams are ethereal and presented to the dreamers’ senses spontaneously. Erictho’s magic, though unquestionably supernatural, must be conjured and tethered to the physical plane in the waking world. Furthermore, the Erictho scene does not involve Caesar or Pompey (Magnus), and so is disqualified from this study. This reasoning may run the risk of being circular, but as I hope will soon become apparent, there is much to be gained from reading the four dreams of Caesar and Pompey as forming a sort of tetraptych.16 The dreams, read in conjunction, become a way of understanding Lucan’s poem. They need not be merely an object of investigation in and of themselves. 14 I do not seek to exclude Cato, who rounds out the trio of protagonists, but there is no scene in the poem in which a dream or vision appears to him (the closest would be Pompey’s metempsychosis at the beginning of Book 9). In fact, Cato seems to preclude himself from any such visitations or divine counsels, declining to test the oracle at the temple of Jupiter Ammon (9.566–86). 15 Thus Morford (1967) 75. 16 The dreams’ use as a framing device for the figures of Caesar and Pompey has been noted by, e.g., Ahl (1976), Batinski (1993), and Penwill (2009). 8 As the two primary figures of the Pharsalia and of the historical events with which the poem is concerned, Caesar and Pompey understandably call attention to themselves as subjects of inquiry. The work constitutes Lucan’s own engagement with and bringing-back-to-life of the civil war. The dreams provide opportunities for the poet to color his depiction of the past, but they also allow us, the readers, a window through which to see these historical players interacting with their own histories through dream response. By combining epic with historiography, Lucan calls the very notion of historical truth into question, mixing subjective response with objective fact and blurring the line between fiction and reality, past and present. 9 I: Caesar and the Vision of Roma (1.183–227) The first vision in the Pharsalia coincides with the commencement of the poem’s action and establishes the tenor for dreams and dream response hereafter. The personified Roma’s divine message will fail to stop Caesar’s march, establishing early on in the poem the inefficacy of dreams and visions. A set of Vergilian intertexts featuring the obedient Aeneas serves to underscore the disparity between Roma’s message and Caesar’s response, which involves a plea of innocence and request for support from the gods of Rome (including Roma herself). An examination of how the historians treat the scene of Caesar at the Rubicon provides a framework for understanding how this and the other dreams in the Pharsalia are functioning. Lucan’s Caesar, like a historian interrogating the historical moment he inhabits, uses his vision as a platform upon which to base his own historical argument and thereby contradict Roma’s claim that his present course of action is wrongheaded. After a programmatic opening and an overview of the causes of civil war, we join Caesar as he arrives in Italy proper (1.183–92): iam gelidas Caesar cursu superaverat Alpes ingentisque animo motus bellumque futurum ceperat. ut ventum est parvi Rubiconis ad undas, 185 ingens visa duci patriae trepidantis imago clara per obscuram voltu maestissima noctem turrigero canos effundens vertice crines caesarie lacera nudisque adstare lacertis et gemitu permixta loqui: “quo tenditis ultra? 190 quo fertis mea signa, viri? si iure venitis, si cives, huc usque licet.” Already had Caesar surmounted the chilly Alps in his march, and in his mind he had conceived great upheavals and future war. When he arrived at the waters of the small Rubicon, a great image of the fearful Fatherland appeared to the leader, clear through the hazy night, most mournful in appearance, pouring forth white hair from her turreted head, standing there with hair torn and arms bare. She spoke words mixed with a sigh: 10 “Whither go ye beyond here? Whither bear ye my standards, o men? If ye come justly, if ye come as citizens, only this far is permissible.” Though the focus shifts quickly to the appearance of Roma, the first two lines do much to characterize Caesar and contextualize the content of the vision. In just one line Caesar conquers the Alps, penetrating the natural barrier that had protected Italy from so many foes.17 He joins Hannibal and the Gauls among the ranks of Rome’s mortal enemies who cross the Alps. Rather than evading notice by its succinctness, the suddenness with which line 183 signals a state of emergency is startling. By the facility and speed with which he has moved into a position to threaten Rome, Caesar has surpassed even Hannibal as an existential threat to Rome. What makes Caesar’s transgression worse, though, is that he is a Roman. We see, too, that his belligerent intentions are already present. The figure of Caesar represents the threat of ingentis motus and bellum futurum at the moment of his introduction, and he will continue to personify the threat and evil of civil war throughout the Pharsalia. It is this threat that the apparition of Roma attempts to check at the Rubicon. Roma’s appearance is introduced by the formula visa…imago, as is typical for the introduction of divine apparitions in epic.18 The waking vision “fulfills the function of an epic dream” and so ought to be analyzed on those terms and alongside the three other dreams in the Pharsalia.19 Her appearance—mournful expression, unbound and torn hair, and bare arms—is evocative of a woman in mourning, though, as she embodies the city of Rome, her grief is representative of that of the populace. The quasi-divine nature of the personified Roma is 17 Penwill (2009) 88. 18 Roche (2009) at 1.186. 19 Morford (1967) 75. See also Maes (2005) 7–8 who in comparing this scene to its Vergilian models notes the important elements of divine message scenes: they typically occur at night, often when the recipient is asleep; stress the physical presence of the divine; involve the deity departing suddenly, leaving the recipient stupefied; conclude with prayer and/or the execution of the order; and are stylized by formulas and recurrent vocabulary. Only the execution of the order is absent in this instance, which I find to be crucial to our understanding of how these divine message scenes are functioning in the Pharsalia.