Version classiqueVersion mobile

Uncertainty in Livy and Velleius

 | 
Annika Domainko

1. Introduction

Texte intégral

1.1 Telling the End of History

  • 1 The article headlined ‘The End of History?’ was published in The National Interest in the summer of (...)

1It is not very often that the central thesis of an academic article finds its way into the everyday language and discussion of international media and politics. In 1989 and 1992, however, the political scientist Francis Fukuyama managed to cause a stir that far exceeded the realms of academic libraries and archives, when he claimed – first in an article, then in a book – that history had come to an end.1 After the fall of the Soviet Union and international communism, he argued, there was no real alternative any longer to the system of Western liberal democracy. And in the absence of an alternative, there was no history.

  • 2 See Fukuyama (1992) xii. For the understanding and role of ‘teleology’ and ‘progress’ in Marx’s phi (...)

2Of course, the title of Fukuyama’s publications was deliberatively provocative. And of course, Fukuyama did not actually wish to claim that the earth had stopped spinning or that events no longer occurred. When he spoke of ‘history’, he referred to the idea of a ‘single, coherent, evolutionary process’ that encompassed the experiences of all peoples at all times – a concept of history that is deeply rooted in Hegelian and Marxist philosophy, both of which claimed that the evolution of human societies was not open-ended, but a teleological process.2

  • 3 Fukuyama (1992) xii.
  • 4 See e.g. Die Rückkehr der Geschichte: Die Welt nach dem 11. September und die Erneuerung des Westen (...)

3The End of History thus constituted a narrative which was supposed to illustrate that ‘there would be no further progress in the development of principles and institutions, because all of the really big questions had been settled’.3 Unsurprisingly, history was to prove this narrative quickly wrong to different extents – first in former Yugoslavia, where a relapse into nationalist thinking had sparked an ethnically motivated genocide and later, in September 2001, in the heart of Manhattan. Both events would be deemed the ‘return of history’ in politics and media coverage, uprooting any idea of a directional, teleological history.4

  • 5 Fukuyama himself does not see his claim as disproved, but considers the political and economic syst (...)
  • 6 Timothy Garton Ash (2004) 191-9 has argued in this connection that there was probably no country in (...)

4But leaving aside the validity of Fukuyama’s political diagnosis,5 his narrative of the end of history gives us a crucial insight into how we as human beings attempt to come to grips with history and with the uncertainty and open future we experience as part of our everyday lives. While the first reaction to the collapse of the Soviet Union was certainly a smug sense of victory, the global developments set into motion would soon reveal manifold uncertainties that came about as a consequence of these unhinged power relations. After the decades of the Cold War and the constant threat of escalation, the fall of one of the antagonists left behind an open space where everything had to be renegotiated – an equation with too many unknown factors. The conflict between East and West, between communism and capitalism, had long offered a clear-cut hermeneutic grid through which to ‘read’, to order and make sense of the world. When the quasimagnetic forces radiating from this status quo lost their power, the bits and pieces between the two poles were left behind without any orientation or valid categorization – and suddenly in need of a new hermeneutic grid and new interpretation. At the same time, the expectations of how the future would look on the global stage became uncertain (again) and could now no longer draw reliably on past experiences.6

5This is of course a broad-brush picture, but it nevertheless allows us to sketch out the temporal and hermeneutic dynamics of uncertainty that apparently could be addressed and grappled with by means of such a narrative as ‘the end of history’. Fukuyama’s catchphrase, no matter whether it was intended to do so or if it was just used to this end in popular culture, responded to this ambiguous and open-ended climate with a narrative that established a strong sense of closure where uncertainty had been gaining momentum, whilst also managing to embed the disastrous decades of the Cold War into a seemingly meaningful and purposeful development.

  • 7 In this context, one should also not forget the ongoing debate about whether or not the Cold War wa (...)

6The phrase ‘the end of history’ may well also have found its way into everyday language exactly because of these narrative and psychological effects – because it was able, at least at first sight, to scale down uncertainty and tie up loose ends. Or to put it differently: to close off those open horizons of expectation and silence those many rivalling voices interpreting and making sense of the world in diverging ways.7

7I choose to start with this iconic moment of modern historiography in order to illustrate how pervasive the narrative negotiation of closure and openness is when it comes to framing the past and dealing with uncertainty. However, despite its opening, this book will not be concerned with the Cuban missile crisis or the end of the Cold War. Rather, it zeroes in on the dynamics between narrative and uncertainty from an anthropological perspective, focussing on Roman historiography in a period that looked back on a century of civil war and upheaval, and ahead to a future experiencing vehement changing conditions.

8By reading two historians as different in their methods and approaches as Velleius Paterculus and Livy, I hope to show how they each configured uncertainty in their historiographical narratives. I will offer and put to the test the hypothesis that it is exactly a negotiation of closure and openness, a balance between the narrative elimination and the narrative enactment of uncertainty, that characterizes the way in which narrative may serve as a means to grapple with the existential experience of uncertainty.

1.2 Towards an Anthropology of Historical Narrative

9Ideas do not come straight out of thin air. From the last paragraph it is clear that the guiding question of this book, its research interests and methods owe much to a variety of intellectual traditions both in recent classical scholarship and beyond. Before launching into the detailed subject matter I would like to single out two major strands that have inspired the approach taken in this study.

  • 8 See Wiseman’s monograph on Clio’s Cosmetics (1979) and Woodman’s four case studies on Rhetoric in C (...)
  • 9 From a philosophical perspective, the linguistic turn can be divided into two major strands: see Ba (...)
  • 10 On the ‘Krise der Geschichtswissenschaften’ in the wake of the linguistic turn, discourse analysis (...)

10One of the most fundamental influences on any attempt to shed light on the anthropological dimensions of historiography is certainly the now widely accepted reading of ancient historical writing as narrative – an approach that however remains underrepresented in one of the two authors I have chosen in this book, Velleius Paterculus. In the world of classical scholarship, Peter Wiseman and A. J. Woodman stood at the vanguard in placing emphasis on the fact that literature and historiography in antiquity were by no means hermetically separate entities.8 Their focus on the rhetorical quality of ancient historical writing in particular, as well as the linguistic turn9 and discourse analysis in general, have prompted scholars to take more seriously the narrative composition of historiography and to acknowledge the way in which this composition generates historical meaning beyond a positivistic understanding of facts and referentiality.10

  • 11 White (1975) 1.
  • 12 White (1975) ix.
  • 13 One critic of Hayden White’s postmodern historiography is Carlo Ginzburg. Ginzburg (1991) 79-92 cri (...)

11One of the most prominent protagonists of the linguistic turn in the field of history is Hayden White, who also influenced research into ancient history and classical studies. In his book Metahistory, White attempts to write a ‘history of historical consciousness’ in nineteenth-century Europe.11 By highlighting the role of language and narrative in any presentation of the past, he stresses that a historical work is essentially nothing but a ‘verbal structure in the form of a narrative prose discourse’12 and draws attention to the poetic nature of historical writing. While his work has been harshly attacked13 and otherwise dismissed by many historians, it has still proved tenaciously influential in the field of literary studies today.

  • 14 I thank Jakob Lenz for this term.
  • 15 See especially Grethlein (2010b) 313-29 for his theoretical approach elaborating on Ricoeur (1984-8 (...)

12In the wake of these approaches it has become possible to assess the importance of historiography apart from the maxim historia magistra vitae. This development sparked a number of studies in the following decades which in much more subtle ways analyzed the ‘Leistungspotential’14 of historical narrative. While the political dimension and questions of power encoded in narrative structures received, unsurprisingly, much attention, recent studies have also more and more pointed to other aspects, such as narrative grappling with memoria or identity. Most recently, Jonas Grethlein has gone one step further by arguing that narrative can be understood as a ‘re-configuration of time’ and, as such, as a means to come to grips with the temporality of our lives, hence liberating the interpretation of historical writing from a functionalist approach altogether.15 This book follows in these footsteps by investigating the interface of narrative and uncertainty, and tries to go beyond them at the same time. Instead of approaching the significance of historical writing from a pragmatic, functionalist perspective such as mere didactics or politics, it subscribes to the paradigms of literary anthropology and tries to tackle the role of historical narrative from a more existential point of view.

  • 16 Kermode (20002), esp. 7 for this thought.

13The fact that I chose Fukuyama’s End of History to start this study and that I described the ‘Leistungspotential’ of his narrative as a closure-device in a time of profound uncertainty makes apparent that there is another major influence behind this book, namely literary research on ‘the end’ and ‘closure’. In his seminal book The Sense of an Ending Frank Kermode has shown that a study on ends and closure is by no means limited to an analysis of ‘how stories end’, but that there is an existential dimension to both our interest in how a story arrives at a conclusion and to the way in which we think and construct these ends. Building on a long philosophical tradition of reflection on the human condition that observed how men have always felt an existential discomfort with the fact that their lives started and ended in medias res and formed only short periods in the history of the world, Kermode argued that it was fiction and storytelling that helped us to imagine our lives as parts of larger narratives, and in so doing to give them shape and order.16

14One potential issue that arises from Kermode’s literary-theoretical approach to the matter of endings, time, temporality and literature’s capacity to help us to deal with them is, however, the fact that his account remains rather abstract and that he does not examine how exactly narrative may do so qua narrative. By using the taxonomies of classical narratology to analyze the narrative configuration of uncertainty in Livy and Velleius and by thus teasing out their narrative take on closure and openness, it is possible to build on Kermode’s insights into the universal, anthropological capacity of literature while, again, at the same time going beyond them.

  • 17 See Fowler’s first (1989) and second (2000c) thoughts on closure. For case studies along these line (...)
  • 18 Fowler (1989) 78.
  • 19 Fowler (1989) 79-80.
  • 20 Fowler (1989) 80. An even more radical view has been expressed by Miller (1978) 7: ‘Attempts to cha (...)

15One important stepping stone in doing so is Don Fowler’s work on ‘closure’ and ‘openness’ in ancient literature.17 Besides developing a typology of different forms of closure18 and identifying desiderata in classical studies on closure, one of the major merits of Fowler’s essays is the fact that he deconstructed the traditional dichotomy of ‘closed’ and ‘open’.19 In literary studies, this polarity has been projected onto a number of different oppositions: as he shows, critics have mapped ‘closure’ onto ‘Western endings’ and openness onto endings in ‘Eastern literature’; openness to new interpretations has been called a characteristic of high literature while closure was interpreted as a device of paralittérature; ironically, both poles have been used respectively to distinguish oral literature from the work in its written form; and it has been argued that the ‘classical work’ was closed and complete while the ‘romantic work’ was fragmentary and open-ended. Without denying the potential fruitfulness of such ‘detailed historical investigations of the swings of the pendulum’, Fowler argued however that it ‘seems to do more justice to our intuitions to see the tension between “open” and “closed” as one ever-present in the literary work’.20

16The exercise of pinning Velleius and Livy against each other and examining how their narratives configure uncertainty allows us to test this hypothesis in practice. In the brief analysis of Fukuyama offered above, I have argued that the narrative of the end of history is a way of closing off both open horizons of expectation and rivalling voices that map out the world with competing hermeneutic grids. Uncertainty as I have interpreted it in this context thus extends to a temporal as well as a hermeneutic dimension, and closure accordingly refers to both as well. Fowler gestures to both dimensions too, but does not make explicit this distinction.

17However, if we go back to Kermode’s The Sense of an Ending we may well argue that it is not only the temporality of our lives that we have to grapple with, but also the fact that we have to order and make sense of the world around us, negotiating all the different layers, ‘Abschattungen’, and exegeses in which it presents itself to us through the lens of our respective cultural, social, historical, or even economic backgrounds. Accordingly, by complementing ‘time’ with ‘hermeneutics’ it is possible to build on Fowler and to go one step further in analyzing how narrative closes off and opens up uncertainty, and thus negotiates the two ends of the spectrum.

  • 21 The link between literature and crisis has also been examined in the edited volume Literarisches Kr (...)

18Weaving together White’s Content of the Form, Kermode’s literary anthropology and Fowler’s deconstruction of the dichotomy of closure and openness, this book puts to the test the hypothesis that it is exactly the narrative negotiation of closure and openness, that characterizes our way of grappling with the existential experience of uncertainty that is part of the human condition, but which comes to the fore with particular impetus in times of external change and upheaval.21 At this point, it becomes crucial to clarify what we mean by ‘uncertainty’ and its ‘narrative configuration’. In order to avoid a lopsidedly theory-heavy and top-down approach, let us now move on to the philological part of the introduction in which I will develop the conceptual grid of this book from within one of its core texts.

1.3 Hannibal’s Coping with Uncertainty

  • 22 On Hannibal’s campaign in Italy up to the battle at the Trebbia in Livy and Polybius, see for examp (...)
  • 23 On the speeches, see e.g. Burck (1967b) 440-52, Treptow (1964) 110-28. For an analysis focussing on (...)
  • 24 The single combats of the Gauls can also be found in Polyb. 3.62. See e.g. Levene (2010a) 272; 346. (...)
  • 25 On Hannibal crossing the Alps, see for example Meyer (1974) 195-215.

19In 218 BCE, Scipio’s and Hannibal’s troops approach each other for the first time on the bank of the Ticino River, about to enter the first battle of what will turn into the Second Punic War, showering the Romans with one of the worst defeats in their history.22 When the armies are almost within sight of each other, both commanders attempt to get their men into fighting mood with traditional battle speeches.23 In between those speeches, Livy inserts an intriguing scene.24 Having crossed the Alps25 and been confronted with the exhaustion of his soldiers, Livy’s Hannibal decides to address his men not only by means of a speech, but to stage an exhibition fight, a spectaculum, to boost their spirits (21.42.1- 43.2):

Hannibal rebus prius quam uerbis adhortandos milites ratus, circumdato ad spectaculum exercitu captiuos montanos uinctos in medio statuit armisque Gallicis ante pedes eorum proiectis interrogare interpretem iussit, ecquis, si uinculis leuaretur armaque et equum uictor acciperet, decertare ferro uellet. Cum ad unum omnes ferrum pugnamque poscerent et deiecta in id sors esset, se quisque eum optabat quem fortuna in id certamen legeret, et, <ut> cuiusque sors exciderat, alacer, inter gratulantes gaudio exsultans, cum sui moris tripudiis arma raptim capiebat. Vbi uero dimicarent, is habitus animorum non inter eiusdem modo condicionis homines erat sed etiam inter spectantes uolgo, ut non uincentium magis quam bene morientium fortuna laudaretur. (43) Cum sic aliquot spectatis paribus adfectos dimisisset, contione inde aduocata ita apud eos locutus fertur. ‘Si, quem animum in alienae sortis exemplo paulo ante habuistis, eundem mox in aestimanda fortuna uestra habueritis, uicimus, milites; neque enim spectaculum modo illud sed quaedam ueluti imago uestrae condicionis erat. […]’
Hannibal thought that the exhortation to his troops should first rather take the form of action, than that of words; and after he had ordered his army to assemble in a circle for a spectacle, he placed captives from the mountains in the middle, in chains; he then had some Gallic weapons thrown at their feet and after that, ordered his interpreter to ask them whether anyone was willing to fight by sword to the finish – if victory meant that the winner would be freed from the fetters and be given a horse. When they all without exception demanded the sword and the chance to fight, and when lots were cast to decide the matter, each one wished that he was the one fortune would choose for the battle; and as soon as a lot was drawn, the man in question – happily jumping for joy amidst those congratulating him – would swiftly grab his weapons in the triple native dance of his people. But when they were fighting, such was the general state of mind that the fate of the victors received no more applause than that of those who died with honour – and not only among the men who were in the same situation, but also in general, among those who were mere spectators. (43) After Hannibal had dismissed them in such a mood from having watched some of these single combats, he called an assembly, and it has been reported that he addressed them as follows: “If, soldiers, you soon have the same spirit in contemplating your prospects that you just had watching the fate of others by proxy, then we have already won; for this was not simply a show, but virtually the mirror of your own condition. […]’

  • 26 On Hannibal’s actual speech that follows on the spectacle scene, see most recently Adler (2011) 83- (...)

20Hannibal’s method of preparing his troops for their imminent task goes beyond the strategies most commonly transmitted to us by ancient historians. Instead of giving a speech and ‘drawing a picture before their eyes’ as ancient rhetoric has it, Hannibal decides to create an actual, visible and interactive spectaculum in order to prepare his troops for war with their arch enemy.26 He builds on res instead of verba.

  • 27 Livy highlights the willingness of the Gauls to fight and removes a comment given in Polybius, impl (...)

21By convening his troops in a circle with the Gallic prisoners at the centre, Hannibal creates an improvised arena, a marked-off stage that is ‘cut out’ of the environment at the foot of the Alps and that is supposed to host the show that he has in mind. The prisoners find themselves faced with the choice of staying in captivity or taking up arms to fight in single combats staged by their oppressor. All of them are keen to fight and hope to be chosen by the lots to prove themselves.27 Moreover, when they are fighting, the spectators relate to them, feel drawn to the spectacle and have the highest regards for both the victors and the dead. It does not matter if they are in the exact same situation as the fighting parties: for the spectators to be caught up in the spectacle, their gaze suffices; the show seems to cast a spell, to lure them in.

  • 28 Cf. 21.43.3.

22It is Hannibal who then addresses his troops in a traditional battle speech – turning action into rhetoric – and who offers an interpretation of what they just saw; the prisoners’ duels were not a mere show, but a mirror for their own situation in the run-up to the fatal confrontation with Scipio’s army. The idea of the mirror is intriguingly highlighted through Livy’s choice of words. The verb circumdare is used to describe both the set-up of the staged battle of the captives and the geographical and metaphorical position Hannibal’s troops find themselves in. For the Gauls, it is the Punic soldiers that ‘set the stage’ and determine their chances when they are ordered to assemble in a circle around them and create their fatal arena. The Carthaginians on the other hand are encircled by other, apparently even graver, obstructions – Ac nescio an maiora uincula maioresque necessitates uobis quam captiuis uestris fortuna circumdederit28 – and those uincula and necessitates take the shape of the Alps to their back, the seas on both their sides, the river Po, and Scipio’s soldiers in front of them.

  • 29 See e.g. Pausch (2011) 151 n. 144, giving a list of similar examples.

23The duels staged by Hannibal have regularly been read as an example of an orator using ‘performative elements’ in order to enhance the effects of his speech.29 But a close analysis can demonstrate that it is possible to go beyond reading the spectacle scene as a mere illustration of a verbal argument. Over the following pages, I would like to point out four aspects that are crucial to this scene and from which we can develop the research questions guiding this book: What is the link of narrative and uncertainty? How does narrative display or configure uncertainty? And what does this tell us about the anthropological capacity of narrative as a medium? The four aspects in the prisoner scene that help to shed light on these questions are the emphasis on performance and visualization, Hannibal’s acting as an ‘interpreter’, the subtle merging of Roman and Punic cultural identity, and (the limits of) the metahistorical dimension of the episode.

  • 30 See e.g. Rhet. Her. 4.68, where ‘the expression of things in words in such a way that an affair see (...)
  • 31 The idea of ante oculos ponere as it comes to the fore in this episode is, in terms of ancient rhet (...)

24The first and most salient characteristic of the prisoner scene is the way in which it draws our attention to the medium of performance and, in doing so, plays with notions of spectacle and visualization. By relying on action instead of words Hannibal puts the ancient rhetorical trope of ante oculos ponere physically on stage.30 Enargeia31 – a vivid depiction or immersive act of persuasion is here not conveyed by a careful choice of words and narrative composition, but by actual deeds and actions that are put on display in the round of an improvised scaena.

  • 32 Exemplarity, but also spectacle and imago – all these aspects are part of a Roman cultural narrativ (...)

25In the context of Roman political culture, the term res also brings to mind the notion of exemplarity: res, usually understood as the accomplishments of great and virtuous ancestors, are supposed to guide the following generations to a meaningful life in service of the community. Res gestae inspire posterity to remember them, and this collective memoria rerum gestarum creates a sense of continuity between the generations by inspiring the youth to emulate their ancestors and make their own contribution to the gallery of famous deeds.32

26Strikingly, however, exemplarity is in this scene not derived from memory resuscitating a greater past. Rather it hinges on a performance and an artificial, visible enactment of exemplary res which only exist because Hannibal is in charge as the director. The exempla that are supposed to guide the Carthaginians are created by means of a visual performance staged, crafted and directed by their commander himself.

  • 33 For the concept behind the ‘as-if’, see Jauß (1982) 85 on what he calls ‘aesthetic attitude’: ‘Aest (...)
  • 34 Cf. OLD 831, imago 8: that which resembles, but is not, a thing; a semblance, show, imitation.

27Watching the prisoners act on Hannibal’s stage, watching them being forced to fight, to hope, to fall into desperation, to die and to win, the Carthaginians get the chance to live through the challenges they themselves are yet to face and to empathize with the emotions bound to these challenges. The prisoners enact the future that lies before Carthage, and by exposing his soldiers to this enactment Hannibal lets them have a taste of their future in a secure space, a taste by proxy in the realm of a visible and vivid ‘as-if’.33 By describing the combats as a mirror, an imago, this ‘fictional’ quality is particularly highlighted: besides drawing attention to the visual quality of the show, the noun imago also alludes to the notion of illusion and imitation – as opposed to ‘what is real or original’.34 Hence, the performance as a medium is shown to sketch a story-world in the mode of ‘as-if’ by drawing on visualization and interactivity. In doing so, it appears to serve a certain purpose – to guide, to orient, and to prepare the soldiers at a single moment of profound uncertainty.

28This observation leads us directly to the second aspect to which I would like to draw attention, namely that Livy’s Hannibal acts not only as a director of the interactive story-world, but also as an interpreter of his own craft. I have just said that the spectaculum appears to fulfil a certain pragmatic function, i.e. to help the Carthaginians to grapple with their uncertain situation. This statement is in need of further qualification.

  • 35 Livy himself programmatically refers to Hannibal’s bestiality, cf. e.g. 21.4.9: inhumana crudelitas (...)

29Reading the battle of the Gauls in this light is an interpretation that is explicitly prompted by Livy’s text itself, more precisely by a statement put into Hannibal’s mouth: it is Hannibal who says that the battle of the Gauls is not only a show, but a mirror for Carthage’s condition. Apparently, the spectaculum he directed, his visual and interactive artwork, is in need of interpretation. There is no intrinsic meaning in the res he staged and no inherent function. In order to help the ‘recipients’ deal with uncertainty, in order to become an actual mirror, the spectaculum needs an interpreter who renders it meaningful in this particular way and thereby rules out other possible interpretations. After all, it could also be read as blunt entertainment, an emphatic demonstration of power or, from an entirely different point of view, even as an act of moral misconduct of a general who knows no mercy and takes ruthless action against every potential enemy.35 The performance as such comprises what we could call hermeneutic uncertainty, an interpretive openness that is shut down by the exegesis delivered by an interpreter, in this case by a Hannibal interpres.

30If we now bring together the observations about performance, ‘as-if’ and visualization on the one side and the role of the interpreter on the other, it is possible to draw some far-reaching conclusions concerning the scene’s concept of narrative and uncertainty. Of course, the spectacle is a classic form of adhortatio that is designed to show the troops how to act and what standard to live up to in their imminent war on Rome. But when we adapt a broad understanding of narrative and storytelling, the battle of the Gauls also qualifies as a narrative with ‘characters’, a ‘plot’, a ‘narrator’, with an ‘audience’ and even an explicit ‘interpreter’. As such, it creates a story-world that does not exhaust itself in being an immediate adhortatio, but may also invite the spectators to immerse themselves for a brief moment in a reality analogous to, yet distinct, from their own.

31For one, I have thus shown that this narrative is thought to dim down the uncertainty the Carthaginians are experiencing in the run-up to the battle with Rome, by letting them have a taste of their imminent challenges and emotions in a secure space. Their uncertainty cannot be eliminated altogether since their own future is still undecided, but the story-world of the spectacle allows the Carthaginians playfully to anticipate the challenges to come and proactively to deal with them before being subjected to them in the real world. Narrative appears to have the capacity to tame what we can call ‘temporal uncertainty’ – an uncertainty arising from the tension between experiences from the past and expectations directed towards an undecided future.

32Since the soldiers do not know what to expect from the imminent fight, Hannibal offers them an artificial battle that maps onto their current condition and that grants them surrogate experiences in which they can find guidance and which they can use to anticipate what to expect from their own fate. Or, to put it another way, the narrative as interpreted by Hannibal helps them to cope with the uncertainty bound to their open future by mimicking a reality yet to come in the mode of ‘as-if’, of a performance.

33On the other hand, the scene not only negotiates temporal, but also ‘hermeneutic’, uncertainty – and highlights that these two dimensions are in fact closely entwined. As we have seen above, the battle of the Gauls is presented to us as a ‘work of performance art’ that is in need of interpretation. If we again understand the spectacle as a form of enacted narrative, this means that narrative is conceptualized as a medium that can create hermeneutic uncertainty as well as eliminate it by offering a clarifying interpretation. Or in other words, the exhibition fight scene confronts us with a conception of storytelling in which narrative has the capacity to stage uncertainty as well as to help its recipients to grapple with it – in terms of both time and hermeneutics.

  • 36 Note, however, that Livy uses Roman time and Roman space to structure and conceptualize history bey (...)

34The third aspect to which I would like to draw attention is what I called the merging of Roman and Punic cultural identity as a result of the narrative composition of the prisoner scene. When I spoke about exemplarity above, it became clear that we are operating within the field of Roman cultural knowledge and practices. It might indeed seem surprising at first sight that Livy’s Hannibal, a foreigner, is able and allowed to use paradigmatically Roman strategies to prepare his troops for the battle.36

  • 37 Hannibal has often been seen as the classic anti-hero embodying everything that is decidedly un-Rom (...)

35The fact that Livy grants Hannibal access to Roman cultural knowledge seems to go against the grain of many interpretations in Livian scholarship which see Hannibal as the paradigmatic anti-hero embodying foreign vices – dolus, fraus, and insidiae – who aptly serves as a contrasting foil for Scipio representing Roman bravery and virtus.37

  • 38 The synkrisis of Hannibal and Scipio reaches a first climax in the third decade exactly within the (...)
  • 39 For the comparison of Livy in Hannibal in the third decade, see Rossi (2004) 359-81.
  • 40 The most famous composition of parallel vitae (on which Rossi also builds her reading) is of course (...)
  • 41 Rossi (2004) 380.

36At a second glance, however, the synkrisis38 of Hannibal and Scipio as being diametrically opposed hero and anti-hero is not as clear cut and absolute as often assumed, as Andreola Rossi has also shown.39 She argues that Livy constructs the lives of Hannibal and Scipio as parallel lives that in many regards complement each other and throw each other into relief.40 Examining Scipio’s development over the course of Livy’s third decade, Rossi goes on to claim that his victory comes with a price for himself and for Rome, since he starts showing more and more ‘Hannibalic’ behaviour and character traits. By this means, he initiates a ‘process of metamorphosis’ in Rome during which ‘the old Roman Scipiones will give way, little by little, to Roman Hannibals’.41 The parallel lives of Hannibal and Scipio, as Rossi argues, are a compositional means to render visible the stealthy decline of the Roman state by letting Scipio turn more and more ‘Punic’ in the course of the story.

  • 42 The conflation of Roman and Punic identities is also pointed out by Clauss (1997) 165-85, who argue (...)
  • 43 Note that this idea is again taken up by Hannibal, on the level of the characters, in his following (...)

37My reading of the battle of the Gauls complements Rossi’s interpretation by pointing out the other side of the coin: the parallelism is not only about Scipio adopting Punic characteristics, but it is also about the barbarian being able to tap into Roman cultural knowledge42 – a narrative twist that opens up allegedly unambiguous ethnic and value-related truths for questioning and subversive interpretation. Again, the scene thus appears to put hermeneutic uncertainty on display: what ‘being Roman’ means as opposed to ‘being non-Roman’ is renegotiated by narrative means. Cultural identity is subtly presented to us as unstable, as in need of affirmation and interpretation.43

38The question remains, nevertheless, of who exactly is supposed to act as an interpreter in this set-up. The merging and destabilization of cultural identity as just sketched is not so much a subject of intradiegetic discussion; it is not the characters in Livy’s story that engage in this discourse. The hermeneutic uncertainty surrounding these issues of cultural identity is negotiated rather on the level of the fabula than the sujet. Accordingly, it appears to be the readers of Livy’s Ab urbe condita who are granted the hermeneutic authority to interpret the ambiguous presentation of what it means to be ‘Roman’ or ‘Punic’ in this scene and in Livy’s narrative as a whole. In drawing on their knowledge of both Livy’s narrative presentation of Roman history and their own cultural knowledge, the readers are the ones to make sense of the multifaceted picture. In this regard, narrative appears to serve as a potential training camp for the basic hermeneutic activities with which we order and evaluate an ambiguous world – and with which we affirm or dismiss culturally constructed ‘truths’ and ‘facts’.

  • 44 The description starts in 21.45.
  • 45 Another example is Hannibal’s speech after Carthage’s final defeat by the Romans (30.44.7-8). Here, (...)
  • 46 Similar claims have been made for Livy’s construction of the pair of battle speeches.
  • 47 In this context, see also Pausch (2011) 147-8, who draws attention to the overconfidence of Livy’s (...)

39What is more, the paradoxical characterization of Roman-ness and Punic-ness fits well into the narrative dramaturgy of the beginning of the third decade – so again, we are operating on the level of the fabula and potential readers’ responses. Hannibal’s tapping into Roman cultural knowledge and practices coincides with two of the most glorious victories his troops are going to achieve in the imminent war on Rome, namely those at the Ticino River and at the Trebbia.44 In this regard, Hannibal’s temporary Roman-ness serves as a form of prodigy in Livy’s narrative,45 foreshadowing Carthage’s success and bravery as well as the fatal future lying ahead for Scipio and his troops.46 Scipio’s emphatic evocation of Roman virtus, bravery and perseverance in his battle speech is, accordingly, fatally contradicted by the disastrous defeats in the near future, and his speech appears to render those losses even more shameful.47

  • 48 On a similar thought, see Pausch (2011) 195: ‘Auf den ersten Blick scheint sich aus der allgemeinen (...)

40For Livy’s readers, who most certainly know what is going to happen, both Scipio’s excessive confidence and Hannibal’s successful adaptation of Roman practices work as subtle prolepses of the proceeding narrative. As such they might well add to the suspense of the reader – a suspense bound to the question of how exactly the story will come to an end, and perhaps also the kind of suspense that is based on the unrealistic hope that things might end differently this time.48 The narrative set-up of the episode with its subtle form of foreshadowing may confront the reader with what I have labelled ‘temporal uncertainty’. Just as the characters are shown to struggle with an uncertain future, the reader might immerse herself into the narrative and grapple with the tension between what she knows about the course of history and her expectations towards the outcome of Livy’s version of it.

  • 49 Grethlein (2010b) 317.

41Temporal uncertainty is accordingly not only thematized on the level of the story-world, as experienced and grappled with by the characters; it is also configured on the level of the fabula and may trigger in the readers of Livy’s history a second-level experience equivalent to that of the characters. In Grethlein’s words, ‘the duplication of experiences in the frame of “as-if” enables us to reflect on experience in the form of an experience’.49 By this means, the prisoner scene presents to us a certain conception of narrative: it appears as a medium that configures uncertainty and that gives the reader the chance playfully to engage with it from the safe remove of an ‘as-if’ and in the mode of aesthetic reception. Besides, we can record once more that the temporal and hermeneutic dimensions of uncertainty appear to be closely connected to one another. In fact I propose to go even further: since the ambiguous construction of cultural identity in this scene works as a prolepsis, it is possible to show how hermeneutic uncertainty has the capacity to trigger temporal uncertainty.

  • 50 See Levene (2006) 73 in his study of Livy book 45. The analysis of metahistorical aspects in Livy i (...)
  • 51 Note how the composition of the passage accounts for that: just as fortune has cornered his men, Ha (...)

42Let us now turn to the fourth aspect that is worth paying closer attention to and that helps us putting into sharper perspective the relation between uncertainty on the level of the characters and on the level of the fabula and potential reader reception, as we have just discussed above – namely the scene’s metahistorical dimension. Reading Hannibal’s show metahistorically means reading the scene as a comment on the genre of historiography and Livy’s self-positioning within that genre.50 Approaching the episode from this angle, we can identify a set of compositional and linguistic features that may prompt us to read the scene as a metahistorical foil, some of which have already been mentioned above. The strongest hints at metahistory are clustered around the various implications of Hannibal’s interpretation of the show as a mirror, an image, a foil for something greater.51

  • 52 See above, 10 n. 31.

43As I have said already, drawing on the medium of performance and on visualization as well as calling the show an image and a metaphor for something else makes the scene an intriguing enactment of the rhetorical practice of enargeia – a concept which has been defined as bringing what is being explained before the reader’s eyes.52 But vividness and visualization as a narrative and persuasive strategy is not only heavily discussed in ancient rhetoric. It is also brought up by Livy himself when he sets out his historiographical project to his readers in the preface of his work (praef. 10):

Hoc illud est praecipue in cognitione rerum salubre ac frugiferum, omnis te exempli documenta in inlustri posita monumento intueri; inde tibi tuaeque rei publicae quod imitere capias, inde foedum inceptu foedum exitu quod uites.
In the study of history it is particularly serviceable and fruitful to contemplate the lessons of any kind of example that are set out on a bright monument; from it you can choose for yourself and for your community what to imitate, and you can choose what to avoid because it is spoiled from beginning to end.

  • 53 On the monumentum and the distinction of the monumenta incorrupta and the fabulae corruptae see e.g (...)
  • 54 See Feldherr (1998) 1.

44Livy describes the Ab urbe condita as a monumentum53 and highlights the visual aspect of the communication between his work and his readers in the verb intueri, ‘to look upon’, as well as in the accompanying adjective illustris, ‘transparent’ and ‘luminous’. As Andrew Feldherr has argued, Livy identifies the process of seeing and the sense of sight ‘as fundamental to the beneficial effects his narrative will exert upon his readers’.54 The vivid and visual spectaculum and its identification as an imago thus flag the scene as a metahistorical foil for Livy’s historiography as a whole.

  • 55 Cf. Cic. Brut. 261.
  • 56 Cf. Plut. De glor. Ath. 347a.
  • 57 For a discussion of the importance and aims of enargeia or mimesis in historiography, see e.g. Feld (...)

45We could go even further and see the scene as a subtle reflection on the genre of history-writing in general. After all, Cicero’s comment on the style and presentation of Caesar’s Commentarii55 and Plutarch’s declaration that the best historian is the one who makes his narrative an image56 suggest that visualization and vividness had a particular significance for historiography.57

  • 58 See especially Zanker (1987) on the power of pictures and pictorial representation in late Republic (...)
  • 59 See e.g. Flaig (2004).
  • 60 Feldherr (1998) 20.

46This observation becomes all the more significant when we remind ourselves of the crucial importance assigned to public performance and visual representation in Roman political culture.58 Aristocratic authority is regularly reaffirmed through public acts such as funerary processions or the erection of monuments in public space – acts which serve not only as means of self-representation, but also of an ongoing communication with those who watch and respond to them.59 Seeing and sight become crucial elements of political and cultural participation in Rome. Accordingly, by ‘reproducing the events of the past in a form that allows his audience to respond to them as spectators’, Feldherr concludes, Livy appropriates this crucial cultural practice.60 By calling the prisoner scene an imago and by drawing on performance and visualization, Livy flags the scene as a subtle comment on this field of cultural practices and his self-positioning within this discourse. Just as Hannibal’s performance is set to enhance his authority as a leader, Livy’s Ab urbe condita is designed in its particular way to increase his authority as a historian – both by letting their ‘audiences’ see.

  • 61 Cf. OLD 831, imago 2; cf. TLL 71 406, 13-58. Although Livy’s scene is fashioned closely after Polyb (...)
  • 62 On the function of the ancestor masks and related rituals, see esp. Flower (1996); Flaig (2004) 49- (...)

47This claim can be backed up further if we bear in mind that the term imago is also the Latin word usually used to describe the ancestor masks.61 It thus carries the heavy connotation of an integral material part of commemorative and political Republican culture that is most prominently put on display during the traditional funeral procession of the Roman elite, the pompa funebris, and that encompasses the quintessence of Roman memoria.62 Accordingly, the term imago with its thick semantic layering is of particular importance for our understanding of the scene and its metahistorical implications. As the literal image, it refers us to the general idea of visualization, of representation and mimesis. At a secondary level it gestures towards the special role that the sense of sight and visual representation play in the context of public authority in Roman culture. What is more, there is also a rhetorical and stylistic ring to it which is linked to the notions of illusion and imitation and the idea of the mental image that is sparked by a thought, memory, word, story, or picture.

48The noun imago thus belongs to the terminology of ancient criticism as well as to the vocabulary of Roman political culture. In other words, it lures us into the rhetorical as well as the political discourses of the time. Hence, by means of semantic ambiguity it blurs the boundaries between the rhetorical texture of the historiographical work and the political culture this work belongs to. Hannibal’s show and by extension Livy’s Ab urbe condita become more than narrative, more than representation – they become public acts, res instead of verba. The label imago flashes out an entire spectrum of meanings bound to Hannibal’s show, while at the same time flagging the spectacle and its entire semantic layering as a foil for Livy’s history as a whole.

49But there are also limits to the scene’s status as a metahistorical foil. While Livy’s historiography as such offers a narrative in the narrow sense of the word, a verbal account of the past – no matter how ‘visual’, ‘performative’ or ‘enargetic’ it may be – Hannibal is here staging an actual, unmediated performance before the eyes of his troops. The ‘protagonists’ of his spectacle do really die, and what is ‘fictive’ for the audience is not fictive for those on stage. Hannibal’s show does indeed capitalize on rhetorical strategies such as enargeia, but at the same time it enacts these conventions in a different way: Hannibal is actually showing his message instead of creating a verbal illusion of vividness.

  • 63 Livy’s scene also features some fundamental overlaps with Aristotle’s concept of tragedy according (...)
  • 64 Cf. 11.8 DK.
  • 65 Cf. 11.9 DK. See also Grethlein (2013) 17.

50This is particularly obvious when Livy elaborates on the fact that the spectators were drawn into the show, that they empathized and felt with the prisoners regardless of their own condition.63 This description again brings the scene closer to ancient rhetoric where words are thought to have this exact effect. Gorgias, for example, describes the logos as a ‘powerful ruler’64 and stresses that words have the capacity to elicit strong experiences in those who hear them.65 Livy’s prisoner scene flashes out this rhetorical trope and, at the same time, counteracts it by attributing the emotional power not to words, but to an actual performance in space. By this means the battle of the Gauls draws our attention both to the power of words and the limits of this power. Accordingly, there are limits to the analogy between the spectacle scene and Livy’s narrative. I nevertheless still think that the scene is a fruitful foil for our understanding of historical narrative since – by displaying both similarities and differences – it can help us to throw into relief the particular nature and potential function of storytelling.

Summary

51In summary, we can filter out a certain conception of narrative and uncertainty from the prisoner scene. This conception is not unrolled by means of an explicit discourse or theoretical reflection, but encoded in the narrative composition of the episode. By focussing on aspects of visualization, intradiegetic interpretation and cultural identity, it has been possible to show that the prisoner narrative (i) configures temporal and hermeneutic uncertainty and (ii) is presented as a potential way of coming to terms with the experience of uncertainty by outsourcing it into a ‘story-world’ and approaching it by proxy, in a secure space without the constraints of the actual event. Due to the scene’s prominent metahistorical dimension, both observations are not exclusive to this individual scene, but hold – with qualifications – for Livy’s historical narrative as a whole.

  • 66 It is important to add at this point that the argument presented in this book as a whole and in the (...)

52(i) On this basis, it is possible to deduce the following working definition of and conceptual approach to uncertainty. Uncertainty is an existential experience bound to the way in which we perceive the world and our position in and interaction with it. It is twofold, spanning temporal as well as hermeneutic dimensions. Temporal uncertainty arises from the tension between our experiences from the past and expectations towards an open and undecided future. Experiences we have made in the past direct our expectations to the future which, in turn, are either confirmed or disappointed by new experiences – a constant pendular motion that elicits temporal uncertainty. Hermeneutic uncertainty, on the other hand, takes as its source the tension between interpretive possibilities, or in other words, the juxtaposition of several possible exegeses of an event, character, phenomenon or narrative.66

53(ii) In a second step, I hope to have shown for the prisoner scene that and how narrative is not only conceptualized as configuring and displaying all these sorts of uncertainty. It is also shown to be a means to grapple with it, to render it meaningful, order or eliminate it. What is more, the prisoner scene can be viewed as a metahistorical mirror for Livy’s historiography. Building on this text-based claim, I wish to go one step further and propose the hypothesis that the spectacle also qualifies as a foil for the anthropological ‘Leistungspotential’ of narrative as a coping mechanism in times of uncertainty. To put this point differently: just as Hannibal’s performance configures uncertainty and helps the soldiers to deal with their fragile condition, the historical narratives of Livy and Velleius may possess the capacity to assist their readers in grappling with the uncertainty they experience as part of their lives and the human condition.

54In order to test this in detail, we have to clarify what exactly this ‘uncertainty’ is, which is external to the text and requires to be dealt with. As I said before, it is possible to approach this question by means of cultural anthropology, looking for universally valid structures underneath both the experience of uncertainty and the nature of narrative. After all, the prisoner scene has indeed confronted us with a fundamental assumption about the nature of human life and the alleged function of narrative and storytelling: what came to the fore in this passage is the basic idea of men being thrown into an essentially uncertain world and looking for ways and means to come to terms with it. Narrative, on the other hand, is envisioned as a part of that existential struggle, and as having the potential to help us to cope with it.

55Strikingly, these assumptions are by no means limited to Livy’s historical writing. They are deeply rooted in a centuries-long tradition of Western philosophical thought and anthropological reflection of the human condition. Grounding the concept of temporal and hermeneutic uncertainty as developed in this introduction within the major branches of this tradition accordingly allows us to take the argument about narrative and uncertainty one step further, and propose the hypothesis that their mutual entwinement is indeed an anthropological constant. While the nature and capacity of narrative is certainly not grasped in full by this means, I am nevertheless convinced that it is a crucial contribution to our understanding of it.

1.4 Outline of the Book

56This book combines close readings and theoretical reflection in order to tackle the interrelationship of historiographical narrative and uncertainty. It pursues two major goals, one literary and one regarding our understanding of the anthropology of narrative. Firstly on the literary side, the focus on temporal and hermeneutic uncertainty will allow us to shed new light on the narrative composition and attitudes towards the past encoded in the historiography of Livy and Velleius Paterculus. By including additionally a brief reading of exemplary passages from Horace’s literary Epistles, I hope to tease out some similarities and differences between non-narrative and narrative configurations of uncertainty in order to throw my argument further into relief.

57Drawing on classical and postclassical narratology, this book is built on the fundamental assumption that the narrative form of historiographical texts is not so much a distraction from the ‘truth’, but rather a key to generating historical meaning. Accordingly, particular attention is paid to narrative form and to how it configures temporal and hermeneutic uncertainty. Secondly uncertainty is a fundamental part of human experience. By examining and comparing Livy’s and Velleius’ narrative configuration of it, I will put to the test the hypothesis that historical narrative has the capacity to help its recipients to deal with this fundamental human experience in the realm of ‘as-if’.

58In the previous paragraph I have derived a concept of uncertainty from an exemplary close reading of the spectacle scene in Livy 21. Temporal uncertainty has been defined as the tension between experience and expectation while hermeneutic uncertainty is conceived as the tension arising from different interpretive possibilities. Building on this concept, the book will examine the interrelation between narrative and uncertainty in five more chapters.

59Chapter 2 offers the theoretical background to this concept. Notions of uncertainty and the idea of man being thrown, and subsequently struggling to cope, in an uncertain world, are regularly conceived of as the existential qualities of the human condition, as for example in Frank Kermode’s The Sense of an Ending that I referred to earlier. It is mostly philosophy in the phenomenological and hermeneutic tradition which allows us to illuminate this existential dimension. In this context, much attention has been paid to the temporal quality of human existence and the experience of an open and uncertain future. However, the human experience of existential uncertainty is not restricted to time. Not only do we have to situate ourselves within the temporal dynamics of our lives. We also have to constantly make sense of the manifold concretizations in which the world presents itself to us. In other words we might say, it is not only temporal contingency we have to cope with as human beings, but also the challenges of a constant hermeneutic ambiguity.

60In this chapter, I will thus try to carve out the anthropological dimension of both temporal and hermeneutic uncertainty. Temporal uncertainty will be grounded in the tradition of phenomenology that understands temporality as the very fibre of the human condition and as deeply engraved in the structural set-up of human experience and perception itself. Hermeneutic uncertainty will be situated within the traditions of postmodern social sciences and deconstruction to show that the negotiation of divergent ways of making sense of the world, too, are an integral part of our way of perceiving the world. Based on these underpinnings, I will briefly set my readings against the cultural-historical backdrop of late Republican and early Imperial Rome. While uncertainty is a fundamental, anthropological part of our experience, it is safe to argue that it emerges with particular impetus in times of external change and crisis. The anthropological approach exercised in this book is thus also used to tease out some structural observations on narrative and uncertainty in this particular historical epoch.

61After consolidating the theoretical background I will then turn to Chapters 3 and 4, which contain my central case studies on Velleius and Livy. I will argue that their narrative configurations of uncertainty are in many regards diametrically opposed. While notions of uncertainty are not alien to either of the accounts of Roman history, Velleius can be shown to scale down, downplay or outrightly eliminate uncertainty wherever possible, while Livy appears to enact and to put on stage both the tension between experience and expectation and the tension between interpretive possibilities.

62I will first focus in detail on Velleius Paterculus. This anachronistic approach, taking the later of the two historians as the starting point for the source-based chapters, has a strong methodological merit in the context of this study. Velleius’ notoriously short, at times broad-brush, History allows me to put my research question to a pointed test. Close reading of Velleius’ construction of narrative categories as fundamental as voice and tense in the whole of his work makes it possible to carve out a detailed methodology and a clear-cut interpretive lens through which to assess Livy’s monumental counter project. What is more, the decision to reverse the chronological order of my two test cases also prevents us from falling prey to a covert evolutionist agenda or from giving the impression of construing a development from Livy to Velleius.

63Having said this, I will start Chapter 3 by means of a brief survey of scholarship on Velleius. By paying close attention to his (rare) programmatic accounts, his construction of voice and tense, his conception of fortune and change, and his periodization of Roman history, it will be possible to show how the narrative downplays, limits or eliminates notions of uncertainty. I will end this chapter by pointing out, however, how uncertainty re-enters the stage in Velleius, concluding that it is indeed the interplay of closure and openness that characterizes human grappling with uncertainty through narrative.

64Building on the findings on Velleius and the refined methodological grid developed from Chapter 3, Chapter 4 will focus on close readings of a paradigmatic narrative from Livy’s Ab urbe condita. By drawing on the Caudium episode in book 9 as an exemplary test case, I will show how Livy’s narrative puts both dimensions of uncertainty prominently on stage, both as part of the ‘Erfahrungswelt’ of the characters in the story-world and as a characteristic of the aesthetic experience of the reader in engaging with Livy’s narrative. After a brief discussion of current trends in Livian scholarship, I will offer a detailed close reading of the different dimensions and contexts in which uncertainty figures in Caudium and by extension the Ab urbe condita as a whole. Thereby I will first focus on the dynamics of uncertainty produced by Livy’s choice to begin the Caudium crisis narrative by means of a locus amoenus scene, before proceeding to discuss the interrelation of experience and expectation, the idea of ‘virtual history’, and the role of rivalling voices and polyphony. In a manner analogous to my treatment of Velleius, this chapter too will be complemented by an analysis of the other side of the coin, i.e. the role of closure and a narrative reduction of uncertainty in the Ab urbe condita.

65Chapter 5 will give a summary and bring together both theoretical and close readings in a comprehensive interpretation. The political dimensions of Livy’s and Velleius’ historiography have unsurprisingly received much attention. An exploration of how their narratives configure the tension between experience and expectation, and the tension between divergent ways of knowing the world, may allow us to go beyond the realm of politics and power and to elucidate a more existential aspect of historical narrative as a means of coming to terms with uncertainty.

66I will conclude this book with an epilogue that is designed to put into larger perspective the interpretations proposed here in two directions, one ancient and one modern. Reading historiographical narrative as the configuration of uncertainty prompts the question of whether and how similar observations could be made for other, non-narrative literature as well. While a systematic analysis of this issue goes beyond the limits of this book, the first part of the epilogue will use Horace’s poetry on poetry – especially the Epistle to Augustus and the Ars poetica – as a test case to tease out some similarities and differences involved in configuring uncertainty in narrative on the one hand and non-narrative poetry on the other. What is more, the research question at the heart of this book may, particularly in the contemporary environment, prompt us to wonder about the significance of narrative and uncertainty in our own time. I have started this book by a reading of the end of history, and I will conclude it with an outlook on the ‘return of history’ to Europe from the summer of 2015.

  • 67 See Jehne (2006) 3-4.

67Let me close this introduction with a final methodological thought. To define the intersection of narrative and uncertainty as the guiding question of this book means also to adopt a certain ‘model’ or ‘lens’ on the basis of which the data available to us is selected, examined and arranged. As Martin Jehne puts it, ‘a model is the ordering of a series of specific pieces of information by means of a hypothesis about their relationship, ignoring details that may be seen as irrelevant from a given perspective’. He goes on further: ‘Such assumptions about relationships are unavoidable if one wishes to give an account that does not consist simply of isolated details.’67

68Naturally, this book also paves a way through a jungle of ancient sources and a vast body of modern scholarship, ordering the available data from the perspective of narrative and uncertainty and necessarily bypassing details less relevant from that angle. This of course does not mean that different approaches to Livy and Velleius or the theory and interpretation of narrative are plainly dismissed. I rather hope to contribute a fresh perspective on some aspects of the texts and the anthropology of narrative by taking the readers on a new path through well-known realms.

Notes

1 The article headlined ‘The End of History?’ was published in The National Interest in the summer of 1989. For the book, see Fukuyama (1992).

2 See Fukuyama (1992) xii. For the understanding and role of ‘teleology’ and ‘progress’ in Marx’s philosophy, especially in contrast with Hegel, see recently Mäder (2010), esp. 19-22.

3 Fukuyama (1992) xii.

4 See e.g. Die Rückkehr der Geschichte: Die Welt nach dem 11. September und die Erneuerung des Westens by the former German foreign secretary Joschka Fischer (2005). Moreover, the most influential work often quoted as presenting an argumentative thesis against Fukuyama is Samuel Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations (1996), building on an article with the same title published in Foreign Affairs in 1993. Huntington argues against Fukuyama’s politics- and economics-centred approach that the dominant source of international conflict in the twenty-first century will be cultural, based on language, tradition, religion and history, making ‘the fault lines of civilization’ the battlefields of the future.

5 Fukuyama himself does not see his claim as disproved, but considers the political and economic system of China as a potential rival-system and thus the site of a potential ‘return of history’. See e.g. his interview in DIE ZEIT 13/2016, ‘Demokratie stiftet keine Identität’.

6 Timothy Garton Ash (2004) 191-9 has argued in this connection that there was probably no country in the world untouched by the end of the Cold War and that the administrations and politics of many regions (such as Southern Africa, Central America, and Southeast Asia) had been deformed by the bipolar competition between the Soviet Union and the United States, to the extent that the new vacuum had complex, global consequences.

7 In this context, one should also not forget the ongoing debate about whether or not the Cold War was truly over – a debate that has been pursued with unbroken interest in both national media and academia since 1989. See e.g. the contributions to the New York Times’ Op-Ed series on ‘Is the Cold War over?’ in the beginning of 1989, before the fall of the Berlin wall; recently also e.g. Schindler and Wille (2015) 330-59 on the influence of the fundamental uncertainty surrounding the question of whether the logic of bipolar competition still applies to international practices.

8 See Wiseman’s monograph on Clio’s Cosmetics (1979) and Woodman’s four case studies on Rhetoric in Classical Historiography (1988), illustrating that ‘historiography was regarded by the ancients as not essentially different from poetry’ (x).

9 From a philosophical perspective, the linguistic turn can be divided into two major strands: see Batstone (2009) 25-6. On the one hand, the ‘analytic’ tradition builds significantly on the later work of Ludwig Wittgenstein, while on the other hand, the ‘continental’ tradition has been strongly influenced by Jacques Derrida’s deconstruction of Ferdinand de Saussure’s conception of the linguistic sign. In the analytic tradition, socio-historical contexts and institutional norms are understood as determined by our linguistic practices. The continental tradition, conversely, understands language as an arbitrary differential structure without any definite reference to the real world. ‘Words, here, mean by virtue of “difference”’, as Batstone (2009) 26 puts it. For a brief outlook and further bibliography on the linguistic turn, in part from the perspective of classical studies, see Levene (2010a) 388-90, esp. n. 150 and n. 154.

10 On the ‘Krise der Geschichtswissenschaften’ in the wake of the linguistic turn, discourse analysis and constructivism and the ‘Verlust der Referentialität’, see Goertz’s essay collection, entitled Unsichere Geschichte (2001). For the parallel readjustment of anthropology following the literary turn, see most prominently Geertz (1988). In France, it was Roland Barthes in the 1960s who called on the community of historians to rethink their profession in the categories of the linguistic turn: this way, he argued, they would have to realize that ‘objectivity’ was after all only a rhetorical trick, an ‘effet de réel’, and that the references outside the text were in fact only signifiés. See e.g. Barthes (1967); with Batstone (2009) 27. Paul Veyne (1971) 68 followed in Barthes’ steps when he similarly claimed: ‘expliquer, de la part d’un historien, veut dire “montrer le déroulement de l’intrigue, le faire comprendre”’ – in Paul Ricoeur’s summary (1994) 164: ‘expliquer plus, c’est raconter mieux’.

11 White (1975) 1.

12 White (1975) ix.

13 One critic of Hayden White’s postmodern historiography is Carlo Ginzburg. Ginzburg (1991) 79-92 criticizes that White fails to distinguish political effectiveness from historical truth and that his relativistic take on historiography deprives the discipline of any recourse to referential evidence (esp. 84). Kansteiner (1993) 274, however, rightly argues against this critique when he shows that Ginzburg’s approach ‘fails to differentiate between moral and epistemological relativism, and [that] it simplifies the complex processes which take part in the production of narrative history’. For a critique that takes this into account, see Iggers (2000) 373-90.

14 I thank Jakob Lenz for this term.

15 See especially Grethlein (2010b) 313-29 for his theoretical approach elaborating on Ricoeur (1984-88), and Grethlein (2013) and (2014a) for a comprehensive application to ancient historiography.

16 Kermode (20002), esp. 7 for this thought.

17 See Fowler’s first (1989) and second (2000c) thoughts on closure. For case studies along these lines, see especially the essays collected in Roberts-Dunn-Fowler (1997).

18 Fowler (1989) 78.

19 Fowler (1989) 79-80.

20 Fowler (1989) 80. An even more radical view has been expressed by Miller (1978) 7: ‘Attempts to characterize the fiction of a given period by its commitment to closure or to open-endedness are blocked from the beginning by the impossibility of ever demonstrating whether a given narrative is closed or open. Analysis of endings leads always, if carried far enough, to the paralysis of this inability to decide.’

21 The link between literature and crisis has also been examined in the edited volume Literarisches Krisenbewusstsein by Bullivant and Spies (2001a). Here, Vondung (2001) 19-40 proposes the triangle of euphoria, melancholia, and parody to characterize literary receptions (and productions) of crisis. His approach, however, is again unable to grasp the importance of literary and narrative form. Hence, the concept developed in this book is also an attempt to complement these content-focussed approaches on literature and crisis by means of a study that examines the capacity and limits of an engagement with uncertainty in narrative qua narrative.

22 On Hannibal’s campaign in Italy up to the battle at the Trebbia in Livy and Polybius, see for example Sontheimer (1934) 84-121.

23 On the speeches, see e.g. Burck (1967b) 440-52, Treptow (1964) 110-28. For an analysis focussing on their rhetorical composition, see still Witte (1910) 300-5 and also Ullmann (1927). While the interest of scholarship in Livian speeches remained strong, it was then Tränkle (1977) 120 who has pointed out that Livy’s third and esp. fourth decades see a general increase in the number of speeches inserted into the narrative. Levene (2010a), esp. 1-81, and Pausch (2010) 186 have read this increase as a crucial part of the general narrative density of the third decade, with many cross-references, prolepses and analepses to the First Punic War. Most recently, Pausch (2010) and (2011), esp. 147-8, has briefly touched upon the pair of speeches in the context of studies examining Livy’s techniques of creating suspense in the reader (‘Leserbindung’). Note also that the speeches by Scipio and Hannibal are shorter in Polybius’ version, partially rendered in oratio obliqua and not modelled to complement one another as they are in Livy’s narrative. On Livy’s relation to Polybius as a source in general, see still Tränkle (1977); for the third decade see also Levene (2010a) passim.

24 The single combats of the Gauls can also be found in Polyb. 3.62. See e.g. Levene (2010a) 272; 346. But I would still argue that the fact that Livy modelled his scene on Polybius’ version does not take away from this argument. It rather prompts us to ponder the similarities and differences, however subtle they may be, of the two versions and to put into perspective the consequences they yield for our interpretation. We can single out two aspects in particular. For one, a major difference lies in the fact that Hannibal’s interpretation of the combats in the speech afterwards is rendered in oratio obliqua by Polybius, while it is presented in an elaborate direct speech matching Scipio’s counterpart in the Livian version. What is more, the choice of words in Polybius’ Greek version of the scene is at times not as ‘semantically layered’ as the Latin. The most trenchant example, which is discussed at length later in this introduction, is the Latin word imago, which gestures towards representation on the one hand and to the Roman ancestor masks and Roman political culture on the other. Subtle linguistic and compositional features like these endow Livy’s scene with an interpretive potential different from the one in Polybius version. See below for further explorations and exemplification of this point.

25 On Hannibal crossing the Alps, see for example Meyer (1974) 195-215.

26 On Hannibal’s actual speech that follows on the spectacle scene, see most recently Adler (2011) 83-98 in a study of enemy speeches in Roman historiography.

27 Livy highlights the willingness of the Gauls to fight and removes a comment given in Polybius, implying that Hannibal maltreated them (Polyb. 3.62.4). See Levene (2010a) 346.

28 Cf. 21.43.3.

29 See e.g. Pausch (2011) 151 n. 144, giving a list of similar examples.

30 See e.g. Rhet. Her. 4.68, where ‘the expression of things in words in such a way that an affair seems to be taking place and the subject to be present before the eyes’ is defined as demonstratio. With Feldherr (1998) 4.

31 The idea of ante oculos ponere as it comes to the fore in this episode is, in terms of ancient rhetoric, closely linked to the concept of ἐνάργεια (or, in Latin, evidentia). Originally understood merely as ‘vivid, engaging description’, enargeia has become the focus of attention for many scholars working on ancient rhetoric as well as reader-response theory relating to narrative. Within classical scholarship on enargeia, we can identify two strands in particular. On the one hand, scholars studying the theory and practice of enargeia have long focussed on the question of how pictorially vivid texts can be said to be mimetic of the artefacts, landscapes or characters they describe – see e.g. seminally Zanker (1981) 297-311. On the other hand, studies on enargeia have built more and more on the observation that ancient rhetoric does not limit the concept to description; it also characterizes certain features of narrative and the power of narrative to elicit certain responses in the audience. For a recent synthesis of scholarship on enargeia, enactivism and readerly imagination see Huitink (in press) whom I thank for sharing his thoughts with me prior to publication. For general overviews of the use of enargeia in ancient rhetoric and literary criticism, see still especially Zanker (1981); now also Webb’s (2009) monograph on ekphrasis with a focus on enargeia in chapter 4 (87-106). See further Otto (2009) 67-134. Vasaly (1993), esp. 89-104, concentrates on enargeia and memory. Bussels (2012) 57-80 focusses on Roman rhetoric and summarizes that through enargeia a speaker aimed ‘at making the audience believe that his representation was no representation, but the event represented’ (80). See Nünlist (2009) 194-8 on matters of enargeia and the scholia.

32 Exemplarity, but also spectacle and imago – all these aspects are part of a Roman cultural narrative regularly used to enhance collective identity, create public authority and arrange the res gestae of the Roman people into a meaningful memoria rerum gestarum. For a thorough examination of memoria in the Roman Republic, see e.g. Walter (2004); for the role of exempla especially in Livy, but also in Roman historiography more generally, see Chaplin (2000); Flower (1996) on visualization of the past as a source of Roman aristocratic power; Flaig (2004) on the interface of rituals and politics. On the interplay of res gestae and memoria rerum gestarum, see e.g. Grethlein (2006c) 135-48 on Sallust.

33 For the concept behind the ‘as-if’, see Jauß (1982) 85 on what he calls ‘aesthetic attitude’: ‘Aesthetic enjoyment that operates in the space between disinterested contemplation and testing participation, is a way of experiencing oneself in the experience of the other’. (‘Ästhetischer Genuss, der sich derart in der Schwebe zwischen uninteressierter Kontemplation und erprobender Teilnahme vollzieht, ist eine Weise der Erfahrung seiner selbst in der Erfahrung des anderen.’) For a more thorough discussion of the issue, see Chapter 2, esp. 45-6.

34 Cf. OLD 831, imago 8: that which resembles, but is not, a thing; a semblance, show, imitation.

35 Livy himself programmatically refers to Hannibal’s bestiality, cf. e.g. 21.4.9: inhumana crudelitas. This point is also in line with an assessment of Hannibal’s character in a long tradition of scholarship; see e.g. Burck (1971) esp. 32-3, who considers Livy’s Hannibal the embodiment of the barbarian, of foreign virtues and flaws, and of everything that is not Roman. On the other hand, Seibert (1993) 116, in his biography of Hannibal, understands the passage as Livy’s way of – unduly – highlighting Hannibal’s cruelty and barbarity, ‘eine Version, die bei Hannibals humanem Umgang mit Gefangenen wenig glaubwürdig erscheint’.

36 Note, however, that Livy uses Roman time and Roman space to structure and conceptualize history beyond the realms of Roman culture. See e.g. Pausch (2011) 75-122 and Walter (forthcoming) on time, and Jaeger (1997), (1999) and (2006) on space.

37 Hannibal has often been seen as the classic anti-hero embodying everything that is decidedly un-Roman, while Scipio represents the paradigm of Roman virtue and strength. For debates about Scipio’s character, however, see for example Burck (1971) 33-4. Besides Scipio, Fabius and Marcellus have also been examined in scholarship as counterexamples to Hannibal; on Fabius see Walsh (1961) 106. On general characterizations of Fabius and Marcellus in the third decade, see also Rieck (1996).

38 The synkrisis of Hannibal and Scipio reaches a first climax in the third decade exactly within the immediate context of this scene, in the pair of battle speeches that Livy renders in direct speech. Note also that this scene immediately follows on an explicit synkrisis of the two leaders in 21.39.8-9.

39 For the comparison of Livy in Hannibal in the third decade, see Rossi (2004) 359-81.

40 The most famous composition of parallel vitae (on which Rossi also builds her reading) is of course the Parallel Lives by Plutarch. See also Chaplin (2000) 118-9, who sees Livy’s depiction of Perseus and Paullus as a similar parallelism.

41 Rossi (2004) 380.

42 The conflation of Roman and Punic identities is also pointed out by Clauss (1997) 165-85, who argues that Livy’s characterization of Hannibal programmatically alludes to Sallust’s depiction of Catiline.

43 Note that this idea is again taken up by Hannibal, on the level of the characters, in his following speech (43.12) where he asks what remains of the Romans if you take away their name, and when he states that Scipio would not be able to tell apart Romans and Punics without their standards and signs (43.16).

44 The description starts in 21.45.

45 Another example is Hannibal’s speech after Carthage’s final defeat by the Romans (30.44.7-8). Here, Livy’s Hannibal uses Sallustian wording and arguments to make clear that Rome’s glory and success will also not last forever since ‘no great country can live in peace for long. If it lacks an enemy abroad, it will find one at home’. Hannibal is here cast in the ‘role of the wise adviser’, as Rossi (2004) 378 shows. His speech is a prodigy for the difficult fate which is awaiting Rome. This argument can be strengthened by reference to Clauss (1997), esp. 169-82 who has drawn attention to the significant Sallustian presence at the outset of the third decade: bringing Sallust and his characterization of Catiline into allusive play to characterize Hannibal, Livy establishes a connection between Rome’s confrontation with her external enemy Carthage and future civil wars.

46 Similar claims have been made for Livy’s construction of the pair of battle speeches.

47 In this context, see also Pausch (2011) 147-8, who draws attention to the overconfidence of Livy’s Scipio who emphasizes Rome’s inherent superiority and recalls their earlier victories over Carthage. What is more, Pausch here sheds light on another crucial aspect of the speeches: Scipio and Hannibal draw on the same historical occurrences to validate their actions and inspire their troops, but interpret them in divergent ways – and thus, leave it to the reader to ponder the validity of historical judgment.

48 On a similar thought, see Pausch (2011) 195: ‘Auf den ersten Blick scheint sich aus der allgemeinen Bekanntheit des Ausgangs bei einem Geschichtswerk, das den Lesern ihre eigene Vergangenheit präsentiert, ein erhebliches Problem bei der Erzeugung von Spannung zu ergeben: Wenn ein römischer Rezipient beispielsweise am Erfolg im zweiten Krieg gegen Karthago zweifelte, würde er letztlich ja seine eigene Existenz in Frage stellen.’ Pausch calls this ‘anomalous suspense’. For different forms of suspense, see Pausch (2011) 191-250, distinguishing ‘Spannung durch Retardation’, ‘Spannung durch Empathie’, ‘Spannung durch Antizipation’. For the theoretical fundaments of such approaches, see especially Baroni (2007) and also Grethlein (2013), drawing on Baroni’s types of suspense.

49 Grethlein (2010b) 317.

50 See Levene (2006) 73 in his study of Livy book 45. The analysis of metahistorical aspects in Livy in particular and in ancient historiography in general has been a frequent concern in classical scholarship since the so called ‘linguistic turn’ and the influence of postmodern theory.

51 Note how the composition of the passage accounts for that: just as fortune has cornered his men, Hannibal corners his captives. Just as the improvised arena is ‘cut out’ of the environment at the banks of the Ticino River in order to serve as a vignette for Carthage’s fate, the mirror-scene is ‘cut out’ of the rest of Livy’s narrative; just as the Gauls are encircled by Hannibal’s troops, and just as these troops are surrounded by water, mountains and their enemy, the prisoner episode is encompassed by the two battle speeches given by the war parties involved.

52 See above, 10 n. 31.

53 On the monumentum and the distinction of the monumenta incorrupta and the fabulae corruptae see e.g. Miles (1995) 17-9. On the difficulties of translating in inlustri posita monumento, see Ogilvie, Comm. ad loc.

54 See Feldherr (1998) 1.

55 Cf. Cic. Brut. 261.

56 Cf. Plut. De glor. Ath. 347a.

57 For a discussion of the importance and aims of enargeia or mimesis in historiography, see e.g. Feldherr (1998), esp. 4-5, and Grethlein (2013) 16-9. On enargeia in Greek historiography, see also Walker (1993) 353-77.

58 See especially Zanker (1987) on the power of pictures and pictorial representation in late Republican and Augustan Rome.

59 See e.g. Flaig (2004).

60 Feldherr (1998) 20.

61 Cf. OLD 831, imago 2; cf. TLL 71 406, 13-58. Although Livy’s scene is fashioned closely after Polybius’ version in book 3 of the Histories and although Polybius also highlights the sense of sight (ἐναργῶς, θεάομα), the use of the term imago is a striking difference. In his description of the Roman funeral processions (Polyb. 6.53) Polybius calls the ancestor masks εἰκόνες and πρόσωπα. Neither of these words appears in the prisoner scene where Polybius renders Hannibal’s speech in oratio obliqua and has him say that he had used the single combats ‘to let his soldiers vividly see and contemplate’ what lies before them. Accordingly, the thick semantic layering bound to the Latin imago, gesturing towards an integral part of Roman political culture, is absent in Polybius. As a result, the play with hermeneutic uncertainty is also lacking in Polybius’ version of the scene, since the subtle merging of cultural identities in Livy hinges also on the multifaceted term. The Latin version with its particular wording, on the other hand, embeds the passage closely within the wider context of both Roman culture and Livy’s historiographical programme of writing Roman history as an exemplary and visible monument that taps into the power relations and strategies of that political culture. See also Fornara (1983) 115-6, who emphasizes the differences between the way in which Greek and Roman historians refer to and make use of the waxen masks and other elements of Roman political and material culture.

62 On the function of the ancestor masks and related rituals, see esp. Flower (1996); Flaig (2004) 49-68 on the pompa funebris.

63 Livy’s scene also features some fundamental overlaps with Aristotle’s concept of tragedy according to which a well-crafted play results in a state of catharsis by evoking phobos and eleos in its audience (Poet. 1449b24-28). In order for the recipient to feel empathy, the protagonist needs to be guiltless (Rh. 1385b13) and there must be a certain proximity or similarity between the recipient’s condition and the situation enacted on stage (Rh. 1386a24-26). However, Aristotle also states that too close an analogy between the recipient and the protagonist prevents empathy and turns eleos into phobos (Rh. 1386a17-24). Accordingly, tragedy must strike the middle ground between proximity and distance to have a cathartic effect on the audience; for a discussion of the conceptual pair in Aristotle’s Poetics and Rhetoric, see esp. Grethlein (2003) 41-67 on whose work I build here. Hannibal, apparently, successfully hit that middle ground in staging his spectacle, offering his soldiers a ‘tragedy’ close enough to their own situation in order to have them empathize with the ‘actors’ and different enough in order to prevent them from falling prey to their own fear. A nice counterexample to illustrate this thought further can be found in Herodotus (6.21.2). He describes how Phrynichos’ play on The Sack of Miletus reminded the Athenians in the audience of their own fate, so much that any form of catharsis was impossible. The playwright had to pay a fine for causing this pain; see also Rosenbloom (1993) 176: ‘The Athenians began to think about their own defence after the fall of Miletus, and the drama “reminded” them of their own vulnerability to Persian reprisal.’

64 Cf. 11.8 DK.

65 Cf. 11.9 DK. See also Grethlein (2013) 17.

66 It is important to add at this point that the argument presented in this book as a whole and in the introduction in particular are a result of a constant negotiation of text-based close readings and theoretical engagement with philosophical and anthropological approaches to time and hermeneutics. For the theoretical underpinnings that inspired the conceptual grid offered here, see Chapter 2.

67 See Jehne (2006) 3-4.

© C.H.Beck, 2018

Conditions d’utilisation : http://www.openedition.org/6540

Acheter

Volume papier

amazon.fr
Rechercher dans OpenEdition Search

Vous allez être redirigé vers OpenEdition Search