Repository logo

Did Somebody Say Augustan Totalitarianism? Duncan Kennedy’s ‘Reflections,’ Hannah Arendt’s $\textit{Origins}$, and the Continental Divide over Virgil’s $\textit{Aeneid}$

Published version



Change log


Giusti, E 


The allegedly old-fashioned debate over the pro- or anti- Augustanism of Augustan texts was superseded in 1992 by Duncan Kennedy’s ‘reflections’ over these terms of reference. Since then, the old dichotomy has appeared to be useless in a dialectic which is always bound to hold Augustus as the unavoidable point of reference. And yet scholarship continues to be divided over the interpretation of Augustus’ rule and its visible or invisible effects on the poetry produced under his patronage. The present article revisits Kennedy’s influential essay and its reception, arguing that it offers further reflections on the workings of Augustan ideology than it has so far been assumed. Moreover, while the nature of Augustus’ rule is still a point of heated debate, the present article argues that a combined reading of Kennedy 1992 and Hannah Arendt’s writings over the ideological language of totalitarian systems may open new possibilities for our interpretation the Augustan regime and the anti-Augustanism of the Augustan texts.



Journal Title

Dictynna : Revue de Poétique Latine

Conference Name

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



Université Lille-3

Publisher DOI