This essay approaches the Jacobite rising of 1745–46 as constituting, by most Enlightenment and modern definitions, a civil war, and considers the implications for poems written during or soon after the rising by William Collins, Hester Mulso (later Chapone), Tobias Smollett, and others. Classical tropes of civil war are among the literary features structuring these poems, which often take the form, more specifically, of odes, exploiting the formal capacity of the ode to dramatize internal division. Roman concepts of bellum civile and “Intestine Wars” (Pope’s Pharsalian expression from Windsor-Forest) are obviously to the fore. So, more interestingly, are the Athenian syntagmata recently emphasized by Nicole Loraux and, following her, Giorgio Agamben: stasis emphylos, an internecine conflict particular to the phylon, to lineage or blood kinship; haima homaimon, the murder of a blood relation, literally blood of the same blood; oikeios polemos, war within the household or among kinsmen. The common thread is the notion of murderous familial breach as a way of catching the paradox and horror of civil conflict while also indicating possible grounds of future reconciliation.
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Thomas Keymer; Civil Rage: Poetry and War in the 1740s. Eighteenth-Century Life 1 September 2020; 44 (3): 8–29. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00982601-8718633
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