Towards a poetics of civil war
Essays in Criticism: a quarterly journal of literary criticism
Oxford University Press (OUP)
Reason for embargo
THE ROMAN ORIGINS of the term ‘civil war’ convey its ‘paradoxical, even oxymoronic, nature’. Bellum civile denoted a just war (bellum) against citizens (cives); but, for the Romans, a just war could by definition only be waged against external enemies (hostes). The notion of a just war against Roman citizens was therefore a contradiction in terms, to be regarded with horror as unnatural and grotesque: the Romans dreaded civil war above all wars and called it ‘intestine’.
This is the author accepted manuscript. The final version is available from Oxford Journals via http://dx.doi.org/ 10.1093/escrit/cgv021
Vol. 65, pp. 341 - 366 (25)