Working Papers on Nervan, Trajanic and Hadrianic Literature 1.10
‘The new subterranean: mining the past in Tacitus Annals 16 and other Nervan/Trajanic texts’ Victoria Rimell, 18th June 2013
This is an embryonic sketch for a paper which builds on Emma Buckley’s ‘Tacitus: epic successor of Valerius?‘. It is intended as a contribution to the Literary Interactions under Nerva, Trajan and Hadrian conference, and should only be quoted in that context.
It considers Tacitus’ engagement with foundation stories from the early books of Virgil’s Aeneid in Annals 16, and is interested particularly in the ways in which he exploits the metaphor of mining (digging up the past, scratching below the surface, laying/digging up foundations, and so on) to characterise Nero’s engagement with the Augustan past, and to interrogate the processes of history writing itself. In the process, it raises questions about how (and how successfully) other authors of the Nervan and Trajanic era handled the temptation to dig up the past – or bury it – as a way of understanding or defining the present.