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The symbolic value of grafting in ancient Rome

Lowe, D. M. (2010) The symbolic value of grafting in ancient Rome. Transactions of the American Philological Association, 140 (2). pp. 461-488. ISSN 1533-0699

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Some scholars have read Virgil’s grafted tree (G. 2.78–82) as a sinister image, symptomatic of man’s perversion of nature. However, when it is placed within the long tradition of Roman accounts of grafting (in both prose and verse), it seems to reinforce a consistently positive view of the technique, its results, and its possibilities. Virgil’s treatment does represent a significant change from Republican to Imperial literature, whereby grafting went from mundane reality to utopian fantasy. This is reflected in responses to Virgil from Ovid, Columella, Calpurnius, Pliny the Elder, and Palladius (with Republican context from Cato, Varro, and Lucretius), and even in the postclassical transformation of Virgil’s biography into a magical folktale.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Humanities > Classics
ID Code:6971
Publisher:John Hopkins University Press.

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