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Conceptualizing Rome as a body had a long history in Latin literature, but only after the transition to the principate did the head assume a central role in such metaphors. Designating the princeps as the caput rei publicae naturalized singular authority and contributed to the process of imperial legitimation. Lucan’s De bello civili critically responds to this discourse through the beheading of Pompey, which is staged as a mutiny of the body politic. The ramifications of Pompey’s failure to fulfill the role of the head-of-state extend beyond the plot of the poem, offering a critique of the principate’s ideological underpinnings.