This paper studies Suetonius's depiction of the appearance of Emperors through what I call Bodily or Corporeal Ecphrasis. Suetonius's ecphrasis of the Emperor's body directs the readers' gaze over the corpus principis in a way that deconstructs the ontology of the princeps. I will show that Suetonius's construction of emperors' corpora includes an amalgamation of referents to heavenly and animal bodies that upsets a reader's ability to interpret these radically unique images through a purely human criterion.
The Emperor's No Clothes: Suetonius and the Dynamics of Corporeal Ecphrasis
I would like to thank audiences at Stanford University, Venice International University, University of Montreal, and McGill University for their attention and comments on different parts of this paper. In particular, Alessandro Schiesaro, Susanna Braund, and Maud Gleason deserve my gratitude for pointed criticisms of the argument at an early stage of the writing process, when this paper was in avery different form. Lastly, Alain Gowing, Anna Pisarello, and the anonymous readers at CA saved me from many slips and pitfalls. Any remaining mistakes, infelicities, and interpretative blunders are mine alone.
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Bill Gladhill; The Emperor's No Clothes: Suetonius and the Dynamics of Corporeal Ecphrasis. Classical Antiquity 1 October 2012; 31 (2): 315–348. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/CA.2012.31.2.315
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