"Boxing as a Stoic Paradigm": A Philosophical Reading of the Fight between Amycus and Pollux in Valerius Flaccus' Argonautica (4.199–343) with a View to Seneca's De Ira
- Illinois Classical Studies
- University of Illinois Press
- Volume 42, Number 1, Spring 2017
- pp. 163-181
- Additional Information
In his version of the bout between Amycus and Pollux, which culminates the Argonauts' stopover at Bebrycia in Argonautica 4, Valerius Flaccus is evoking a well-known epic tradition of boxing matches. Simultaneously, he appears to be reworking those model texts with the same protagonists "in the ring," by adding further elements from Homer, Vergil, and Ovid that bring Amycus closer to other terrifying creatures of epic such as Polyphemus and Cacus. However, the portrayal of Amycus' almost inexplicable furor and ira bears some discernible Stoic influences: the symptoms that, according to Seneca's theory in his treatise De Ira, are exhibited by a volatile man who, having lost his self-control and reasoning, is prone to anger and its devastating effects. On the contrary, Pollux's more calculating tactic during the fight reveals the kind of rational perceptiveness of a Stoic sage which gradually paves the way for his feat. Overall, the boxing match itself introduces a philosophical element to Valerius' source material that propels the reader to assess the whole episode both through its intertextual and intratextual dynamics.