Up with the bonnets! : Lucanian and Vergilian reception in the Scottish neo-Latin epic the Grameid
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The subject of this paper is an unfinished neo-Latin epic called the Grameid, written in Scotland in 1691 by a man named James Philp, which celebrates the deeds of its hero, the Scottish nobleman John Graham of Claverhouse, the Viscount Dundee, who was killed in a civil war in 1689 while leading the defeated faction, which sought unsuccessfully to restore the recently-deposed King James VII & II of Scotland and England. The Grameid draws on the ancient epic models of the Aeneid and the Bellum civile to achieve its poetic program. The use it makes of the Bellum civile, however, is largely subversive; though it imitates and takes pains to recall Lucan’s poem in the opening and throughout the first book, subsequently, through a gradual shift in the use and context of moral vocabulary it subverts expectations by undermining the moral framework of the Bellum civile and reestablishing something more closely resembling the ethos of the Aeneid. Since much of the Bellum civile’s own reception of the Aeneid involved an undermining and problematizing of its moral framework, the Grameid can be said to be engaged in a counter-revolution against the Lucanian subversion of Vergil. Philp takes advantage of Vergil’s more traditionally heroic moral framework to glorify his hero Dundee as an emblem of pietas, even while engaged in a civil war, which would be nearly impossible within the parameters of Lucanian ethics.