As testified by a fragment, which survived in the oeuvre of Charisius, a grammarian from the late Antiquity, L. Annaeus Cornutus dedicated his critical work on Virgil to Silius Italicus, the author of the epic entitled Punica, who belonged to Nero's circle of literati in his youth. Given the knowledge of the history of Nero's literary circle and the findings of a careful examination of the fragment, it can be assumed that this work of Cornutus, which might have been quoted by Pliny the Elder in his Dubius sermo, was probably written and published in the early 60s (A.D.).
Silius Italicus in the third book of the Punica describes the temple of Melqart in Gades where Hannibal offers up a sacrifice to the god. The temple is presented as a sanctuary of Hercules because it corresponds better to the characterization of Hannibal and his irreverence for the gods is more evident. Silius is the only one to mention the labours of Hercules depicted on the doors of the temple. As the description of these pictures cannot be found in any other authors it is most likely that those are the invention of Silius’ fantasy and the ekphrasis (as the other ones in the poem) has a literary function: to foreshadow Hannibal’s destiny.
The present paper examines the crucial passages in Lucanus, Valerius Flaccus, Statius and Sily concerning suicide. Lucanus presents a fanatical eulogy of suicide, Valerius Flaccus a rather calculated approach which is guided by almost philosophical considerations resembling those given by the philosopher Seneca, Statius focuses on the problem of self determination and tyranny. Sily’s account of the Saguntine suicide combines and modifies different elements of the literary tradition, which sometimes makes it difficult to ascertain the value judgement his narrative is meant to convey to his readers.
Pesellino’s Crucifixion (inv. n. 55.184) was considered one of the earliest works of the painter until now, only an article published in 1932 by Pietro Toesca revealed a close stylistic relationship with the miniatures made by Pesellino around the years 1447–1448. Comparisons with other works of the painter, like the predella panels in Rome and Worcester, show strong similarities in the way of modelling the heads, the draperies, the gestures and the physiognomy of the figures, which permit to confirm a dating in the late 1440s. A final collation with a cherub face from Giotto’s Badia Polyptych can make it evident that the head of St. John the Evangelist on the pinnacle in Esztergom has a fairly individual style and a very sophisticated expression.