This thesis will explore episodes of divination and the vatic praxis of three poets of the Latin Imperial period. The texts to be examined are Lucan’s De Bello Civili, Valerius Flaccus’ Argonautica, and Statius’ Thebaid. In Chapter One four episodes of divination in Lucan’s civil war epic (in Books 1, 5, 6, and 9) will be examined for the way in which they reveal elements of Lucan’s vatic praxis and the author’s notions of the limitations placed upon his own vatic persona as an author of historical epic. Lucan’s apostrophe at the start of Book 2 will also be examined as it reveals the narrator’s attitude toward mankind’s obsession with learning the future through divination - an attitude that will be critiqued by Statius in particular.
Chapter Two begins with a discussion of the consecutive prophecies of Mopsus and Idmon in Book 1 of Valerius’ Argonautica. The technique of consecutive prophecies is borrowed from Lucan and I will explore the ways in which Valerius uses this episode to comment on Lucan’s vatic praxis and to advance his own argument about the importance of delivery and interpretation of prophecies. The way that various allusions to Lucan’s vatic voices have an effect on the trustworthiness of Valerius’ seers will also be examined. The second half of Chapter Two deals with the consecutive prophecies of Melampus and Amphiaraus in Book 3 of Statius’ Thebaid. Statius’ use of consecutive prophecies signals another moment of intertextuality with Lucan’s vatic technique, and I will argue that in the apostrophe that follows directly on from Melampus’ and Amphiaraus’ prophecies Statius alludes to and engages with Lucan’s vatic praxis and criticises his forgiving attitude towards mankind’s need for divination.