Fool’s Gold

Representations of the Golden Age in Virgil and Seneca

EVAN ARMACOST (Boston University)

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Zusammenfassung: The theme of the Golden Age in Seneca’s Hercules Furens has been largely overlooked in modern Classical scholarship. This Senecan Golden Age particularly parallels the Golden Age crafted by Virgil, but bears a significant distinction. Whereas the Golden Age in Virgil’s Eclogues, Georgics, and Aeneid is a peaceful era of homeostasis between mankind, nature, and the Divine, Seneca’s Hercules desires a world so preternaturally static as to be devoid of life. This discussion will analyze how Seneca corrupts themes from Virgil’s work and subsequently hypothesize why the Stoic poet has employed such subversive intertextuality.

Anna Motto and John Clark (1981) argue convincingly that Seneca’s Hercules is a brash overreacher whose arrogance and rage ultimately destroy him. My unique contribution will examine how Hercules as an overreacher is intent on turning the conventional Golden Age on its head to create an eerie, dead quiet. He does not wish to save the world, but to remake it in his own twisted image of peace. There is a reason that Hercules is beset by madness immediately after he makes this black proclamation. By confirming Juno’s worst fears about his violent hubris, he triggers her almighty judgment and must suffer the consequences.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Evan Armacost is a junior pursuing a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Arts in Classical Studies at Boston University. After graduation in May 2018, he is planning on pursuing doctoral studies in Classics. Evan has presented papers at conferences held by the Undergraduate History Association at Boston University and the Eta Sigma Phi chapter at the University of North Carolina.\:This October, he will be presenting his work on Seneca and Virgil at the CAMWS-SS 96th Anniversary Meeting.