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The Violation of the Eye and the Theft of Vision in Lucan's Bellum Civile

From: Syllecta Classica
Volume 22 (2011)
pp. 69-93 | 10.1353/syl.2011.0008



To have one's eye removed represents more than the loss of a body part: without it, humans lose an essential means to communicate and even recognize one another. In this article, I examine the extrusion of eyes in the Bellum Civile, where each instance of eye removal exposes the dysfunction of relationships in Lucan's Rome. The individual citizen, the family and the state display a dearth of introspection, a lack of allegiance to or recognition of friends, family and political allies and an unproductive or perverted desire for intimacy. All these deficits result from mental, intellectual or physical blindness and ultimately contribute to the destruction of the Republic.

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