Circumnavigating Tacitus' Agricola
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This study examines the bizarre account of the mutiny of the Usipi in Tacitus’ Agricola. It argues that this centrally placed, ostensible digression actually functions as a mise en abyme for the work. Just as the Agricola presents its readers with a complex series of generic and thematic elements, so too does the mutiny narrative contain all of these features and reflect them in a single episode: historiography and the commemoration of great deeds, anti-Domitianic rhetoric and the central theme of liberty versus servitude, ethnography and foreign interactions, and circumnavigation as a symbol for the conquest of Britain. Moreover, by taking these elements to various extremes, the mutiny of the Usipi exhibits the tendency of the mise en abyme to distort the work that it reflects.