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Roman Borders and Contemporary Cultural Criticism

Timothy Saunders

Abstract


This article takes as its starting point the observation that several of the most common terms used in contemporary cultural criticism - terms such as delimit, define and, indeed, term itself - a) derive from Latin; and b) invoke notions of the border. On this basis, it then sets out to excavate some of the ancient Roman foundations of the borders we continue to encounter and assert each time we as critics venture out to patrol the cultural realm. Taking the poems of arguably the most important classical Roman poet of them all, Publius Vergilius Maro (Virgil), as its primary archaeological resource, it illustrates how for the Romans too the borders of such things as farms, empires, concepts, laws and literature were all inextricably interlinked, as well as how they were variously produced, negotiated, and, as their linguistic traces in modern languages such as English also suggest, how they might continue to inform modern debates about culture in general and borders in particular.

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Print ISSN: 0886-5655
Online ISSN: 2159-1229

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