Claudian’s "Gigantomachia": Coping with Reality and Dealing with Loss

Adrien Bresson

Université de Lyon, Saint-Étienne, France , France


The subject of Claudian’s Gigantomachia, narrating the great war between the Gods and the Giants, is vividly felt in the fourth century AD, given the historical context during which it was written. This piece, besides being mythological in a Christian world, remains unfinished, and the perspective of the incomplete end raises some questions: did Claudian do it voluntarily? Was he forced to do so? Was the end lost? And more generally, why would an official poet choose to write on a subject which does not align with the new way of thinking of a Christian Roman Empire, while rewriting a myth which tends to echo the military and the political context he was living in? In order to see through this perspective, it may be interesting to observe Claudian’s adaptations in rewriting the myth in order to grasp the different aspects of the context he was living in and that he was trying to mirror, and also to question the function of such a narration for Claudian himself, between pessimism towards loss and hope for a brighter future. This study, which focuses on the difficult adaptation of Pagans to the Christian era, allows to see, through a thorough study of Claudian’s Gigantomachia, the expression of a personal belief in an epic poem. Late Christian Antiquity poetry therefore appears both as a means to express one’s feelings and to overcome them.


Claudian, Gigantomachia, loss, coping, dealing, Christianism, Stilico, mythography, Honorius, Pagans

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Bresson, A. (2022). Claudian’s "Gigantomachia": Coping with Reality and Dealing with Loss. Vox Patrum, 82, 167–184.

Adrien Bresson
Université de Lyon, Saint-Étienne, France


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