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Screening the Golden Ages of the Classical Tradition$
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Meredith Safran

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781474440844

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474440844.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM EDINBURGH SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.edinburgh.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Edinburgh University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ESO for personal use.date: 27 February 2021

The Golden Age and Imperial Dominance in the Aeneid and Serenity (2005)

The Golden Age and Imperial Dominance in the Aeneid and Serenity (2005)

(p.175) 9 The Golden Age and Imperial Dominance in the Aeneid and Serenity (2005)
Screening the Golden Ages of the Classical Tradition

Jennifer A. Rea

Edinburgh University Press

In the second of two chapters that treat promises of an imperial golden age in Aeneid Book 6, Rea extends Kirsten Day’s work on the Vergilian golden age and the American Western to Joss Whedon’s Space Western film Serenity. Rea identifies this descendant of the Aeneid as skeptical about the utopian promises of the imperialistic Alliance, a technologically advanced group of central planets that defeat the “Independents” on the outer planets(known as the frontier) and proceed to impose their will upon these recalcitrant pioneers. When the contested frontier moves from exterior space to the recesses of subjects’ minds, imperialistic conquest endangers the very people supposedly benefiting from the imposition of “civilization.” The Alliance’s disastrous application of “Pax,” an experimental nerve agent, to the unwitting population of a frontier planet echoes pessimistic readings of the Aeneid and its undercurrent of anxiety about what sacrifices are required for a new golden age of peace, prosperity, and security to arise. Rea also examines the point at which Serenity’s protagonist Mal Reynolds, a veteran Independent, takes on an Aeneas-like role in single combat with his adversary: not to found a golden age of empire, but to protect universal freedom.

Keywords:   Aeneid, Space Western, Serenity, Pax, golden age, utopia, sacrifice, civilization, frontier, empire

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