© Brian Britigan - Golden

Abstract: Georgics 4 is dedicated to bee-keeping and its first practitioner, Aristaeus, who regains his lost hive through bugonia, the generation of bees from dead oxen. This bugonia is an Egyptian rite described by Vergil (G.287-314) and later enacted by Aristaeus (G.538-558). Though understood as a potent symbol, the Egyptian bugonia is usually dismissed as outside the didactic/scientific world of the poem, while the Aristaean bugonia is domesticated to an aition of animal sacrifice. I argue that the Egyptian bugonia is a technical ekphrasis, a description of an artifact that brings it to life in the reader’s mind, and that the differences between the two bugonias dramatize the gap between the description of an artifact and its realization in the world.
Furthermore, by comparing Georgics 4 with Golden, a recent visual reception of the poem, I argue that the bugonia shows readers how to queer the process of reproduction. The bees’ birth is asexual to begin with (G.200) but their rebirth is “queer” because it enmeshes human culture and labor with nonhuman animal matter. In Golden, Brian Britigan leverages Vergil’s queer bugonia to describe his own artistic program. Britigan’s realistic style and Midwestern subjects, like the cow, follow American regionalists but in Golden, he has remade this tradition, both reproducing and queering American regionalism with cow-born bees.

Arrangör/Organiser: Latinseminariet vid SU
Kontakt/Contact: Maria Plaza
Ingen föranmälan krävs/No registration required