Once stigmatized as 'the worst epic ever written', Silius Italicus' Punica is now the focus of a resurgence of critical interest and wide-ranging positive reappraisal. In a climate of flourishing interest in Flavian literary culture, Punica 7 now joins the rising number of commentaries onFlavian epic. Littlewood demonstrates how Silius' republican theme bears the imprint of Rome's more recent experience of civil conflict, illuminating the military and civic ethos of the Flavians and exploring tensions within the literary and political culture of the Age of Domitian. The narrativeof Punica 7 is a tale of treachery and perseverance of a battle of wills and the desecration of the land of Italy, poetically interpreted through intertextual allusion to Virgil's Georgics. A penetrating analysis of Silius' complex intertextuality illustrates how Silius' central panel, Hannibal's night raid on the Roman positions and incineration of 2,000 Roman plough oxen, combines thematic material from Homer's Doloneia with Virgilian imagery so that the burning flesh of a subvertedsacrifice is interwoven with bacchanal madness and the rising smoke of the sack of Troy. This sets the stage for a dramatic finale in which Rome's traditional virtues triumph over oriental guile and internal discord and the historical narrative coalesces with mythology, the proto-history of Rome,and the genealogy of its contrasted protagonists, Fabius and Hannibal. Littlewood's volume is the first full English commentary on a book of Silius Italicus' Punica and is supported by an extended introduction covering Silius' life, literary models and epic style, his characterization of Fabius and Hannibal, and the transmission of the text of Punica.