One or Many Milites? Military Multiplicity in Lucan’s Civil War

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review


The Latin word, miles (soldier), signifies both the individual combatant and the entire army. Such linguistic fluidity of plural and singular is ubiquitous in Latin poetry, yet, arguably this double-image is a semantic reflection of the legionary’s personal and political identity. This article explores how the figure of the soldier as fundamentally one and many embodies Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari’s philosophy of ‘multiplicity’, by using this theory to frame a reading of the military body/bodies in Lucan’s notoriously violent Latin epic, Civil War. The frequent disruption of bodily boundaries, and the machine-like anonymity of the troops, combine with Lucan’s difficult verse to generate a textual space which violates preconceived parameters in a ‘more than civil’ conflict, forcing the reader to confront ‘multiplicities’ of being and meaning. By close-reading select passages from Civil War, this article will demonstrate how Deleuze and Guattari’s philosophy can facilitate a reading practice with particularly pertinent, if devastating, consequences for depictions of warfare.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages21
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 9 Nov 2019

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