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Posts Tagged ‘bees’

Who works in the text? According to Tom Geue, in an excellent paper in the Bristol Classics Research Seminar last week, this question is at least as important for our understanding of Roman culture as the more familiar “Who speaks in the text?”. He took as his case study Georgics IV, a poem ostensibly devoted to old-fashioned Italian small-holding in which remarkably little real work gets done. Slavery is of course more or less invisible throughout the Georgics, with the slave treated as a mere prosthesis so that his labour is credited to the owner, but the fourth book takes things still further. Half of it is devoted to bee-keeping: a gift of heaven, a slight field of toil bringing great reward, in which the owner’s labour is limited to tearing off the wings of the ‘kings’ so that the bees are not inclined to give in to their tendencies to idleness… (more…)

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