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Fabrizi, Virginia (2015): Hannibal’s March and Roman Imperial Space in Livy, Ab urbe condita, Book 21. In: Philologus, Vol. 159, No. 1: pp. 118-155


Livy’s account of Hannibal’s march from Spain to Italy in 218 BCE (Liv. 21,21–38) contains well-known geographical inconsistencies. However, the representation of space makes sense in narrative terms, which was, after all, what especially mattered to an audience that did not normally use maps as support for the reading of history. This paper attempts to investigate, first of all, how narrative structure and space interact, and to ask which are the main spatial landmarks which shape the account of the events. Secondly, it examines the symbolic representation of the space crossed by Carthaginians as universal space, through the repeated allusion to Hercules’ travels. Moreover, it studies how landscape description, and the re-use of literary topoi about places, contribute to single out the Alps as an especially significant, and symbolic, landmark. Finally, it shows how concepts about space can be renegotiated through speeches delivered by characters inside the text, and how this is connected to a meditation on the relationships between space and empire.