Servian Readings of Religion in the Georgics

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The commentaries of Servius, replete with tedious grammatical observations, do not entice readers in: understandably, classicists have tended to use rather than read these commentaries (which do contain temptingly useful snippets of information). In this chapter I reveal the intellectual dangers of this tendency. First, I explore the way that Servius reads the Georgics – specifically religion in the Georgics. I apply pressure to the distance between Servius’ religious interests and Virgil’s, sketching out the idiosyncracies and obsessions which he brings to the text. Through detailed study of Servius’ note on G. 1.21, I then show how Servius’ peculiar way of reading religion in the Georgics has worryingly shaped modern scholars’ characterisations of Roman religion in the classical period – for whom Servius is an often-frequented source. Focused through Servius’ reading of ‘Georgic religion’, this chapter stands as a wider-reaching warning of what happens when we use Servius without reading him first.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationReflections and new perspectives on Vergil's Georgics
EditorsNicholas Freer, Bobby Xinyue
PublisherBloomsbury Academic
ISBN (Electronic)9781350070530
ISBN (Print)9781350070516, 9781350177482
Publication statusPublished - 21 Feb 2019


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