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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, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ESO for personal use.date: 31 May 2020

The Dux Femina Ends Westeros’ Golden Age: Cersei Lannister as Agrippina the Younger in HBO’s Game of Thrones (2011–)

The Dux Femina Ends Westeros’ Golden Age: Cersei Lannister as Agrippina the Younger in HBO’s Game of Thrones (2011–)

Chapter:
(p.207) 11 The Dux Femina Ends Westeros’ Golden Age: Cersei Lannister as Agrippina the Younger in HBO’s Game of Thrones (2011–)
Source:
Screening the Golden Ages of the Classical Tradition
Author(s):

Meredith D. Prince

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9781474440844.003.0012

In the second of two chapters connecting the management of sexuality to the fortunes of Augustus, his dynasty, and the empire it governs, Prince explores how the dynamics shaping Rome also inform the characterization and narrative arc of Cersei Lannister in HBO’s Game of Thrones (2011-), another prestige cable series produced during the current golden age of television. She compares Cersei Lannister to Roman historiography’s portrayal of Agrippina the Younger: granddaughter of Augustus, sister of Caligula, wife of Claudius, and mother of Nero, yet born into a patriarchal system in which she could only wield power by controlling men around her. In this strategy, both Agrippina and Cersei are challenged by another aspirant to power and competitor for influence, with deadly results. Such ambition led to Tacitus labeling Agrippina a dux femina (“woman commander”), among other imperial women whose “masculine” hunger for power was blamed for the catastrophic decline of their dynasty and of Rome itself – much as the coming of winter on Game of Thrones is correlated with the moral depravity, and dynastic collapse, in which Cersei is intimately implicated. These pessimistic narratives of decline invoke the myth of the iron age, the inverse of the golden age.

Keywords:   iron age, Game of Thrones, Cersei Lannister, Agrippina the Younger, dux femina (“woman commander”), golden age of television, Roman historiography, moral depravity, Roman Empire, dynastic collapse

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