Silius Italicus and Flavian Culture

Silius Italicus and Flavian Culture

4th - 6th July 2011

Centre for Classical and Near Eastern Studies of Australia (CCANESA)
The University of Sydney

Pacific Rim Latin Literature Conference 2011
in association with the Flavian Epic Network

Convenor: Robert Cowan (University of Sydney)


Silius Italicus’ epic on the Hannibalic War, the Punica, has moved from scholarly neglect and even contempt to being the focus of immense interest and research. Yet much scholarship—prompted by Silius’ own poetics of nostalgia and his close engagement with Virgil, Livy and Lucan—has tended to divorce the poet and his poem from its context in Flavian and especially Domitianic Rome. This conference, only the second ever devoted to Silius and the first in the English-speaking world, aims to resituate Silius and the Punica in its Flavian context


Call for Papers

Papers on any aspect of Silius and the Punica are invited, but particularly welcome will be those which relate the poet and/or his poem to their Flavian context, be it literary, political, artistic, cultural, social, intellectual, or any combination of these. Papers which focus on the Flavian context with Silius in a subordinate role are also invited. Submissions from postgraduates are also especially welcome.

Papers should be either 45 or 20 minutes long, and please indicate into which category yours falls.

Topics might include, but are by no means limited to:

  • Silius and the other Flavian epicists (Valerius Flaccus, Statius)
  • Silius and Martial
  • Silius and Statius’ Silvae
  • Silius and Flavian prose (Quintilian, Pliny the Elder, Frontinus)
  • Silius and the Nervo-Trajanic backlash (Tacitus, Suetonius, Pliny the Younger, Juvenal)
  • Silius and the Flavian Dynasty, esp. Domitian
  • Silius and Flavian coinage, art and architecture
  • Silius and ideology (political, imperial, cultural)
  • Silius and rhetoric
  • Silius and antiquarianism
  • Silius and philosophy
  • Silius and religion

It is hoped that a published volume will result from the conference.

Please submit a title and an abstract of 150-200 words to by 12th February 2011.


Keynote Speaker
Assoc. Prof. Raymond D. Marks (University of Missouri)

Raymond Marks has rapidly established himself as one of the leading voices in Silius scholarship, with a particular emphasis on situating the Punica in its Flavian and specifically Domitianic context.

His book From Republic to Empire: Scipio Africanus in the Punica of Silius Italicus (Frankfurt am Main, 2005) made a strong case for the poem as an aetiology of the principate, with Scipio serving as a model for Domitian. In addition to this already influential monograph, he has published articles on a wide range of aspects of the Punica in journals such as Mnemosyne and Ramus, and in the edited volumes Brill’s Companion to Silius Italicus (Leiden, 2010), Studies in Latin Literature and Roman History XIII (Brussels, 2006), The Blackwell Companion to Ancient Epic (Oxford, 2008), and the Festschrift for Michael Putnam (Afton, 2004). He has also published on Horace and Ovid.



Please direct any enquiries to Bob Cowan (


This conference is grateful for the support of
The School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry, University of Sydney (SOPHI)