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Published online by Cambridge University Press:  04 February 2021

Hannah-Marie Chidwick*
University of Bristol


Since Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari emerged into the realm of Continental philosophy in the late twentieth century, the pair have sustained a prominent and influential presence in the fields of cultural studies, politics and sociology, also literary, artistic and cinematic scholarship, spurred on by the appropriation of the arts in Deleuze and Guattari's own work. The contributions to this special edition bring to light how the rubble-strewn textual field of Classical antiquity also ineludibly invites a methodological framework informed by Deleuze and Guattari's philosophy. By its contemporary nature, the Classical ‘canon’ is a warzone of competing translations, fragments and fragmentary orders, de- and re-constructions, bearing a torrid resemblance to the flattened and interconnected plane of existence described in Deleuze and Guattari's work. The pair draw from multiple avenues of academic exploration and encourage the seed-like spread of their multifarious ideas. This article makes a case for employing one concept in particular as a practice for reading Classical texts: ‘multiplicity’.

Research Article
Copyright © Ramus 2021

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1. Deleuze and Guattari's joint work, Kafka (1986), also Deleuze's Proust and Signs (1972), Cinema 1 and 2 (1986) and (1989a), Francis Bacon (2003), and the use of Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland in The Logic of Sense (1990b). See Bogue (2003b), 2, on Deleuze's writing on literature as a ‘thinking-alongside literary works, an engagement of philosophical issues generated from and developed through encounters with literary texts’.

2. See Deleuze and Guattari (1994), 5: ‘Concepts are not waiting for us, ready-made, like heavenly bodies…They must be invented, fabricated, or rather created and would be nothing without their creator's signature.’ See also Grossberg (2014), 3f.; Robinson (2010): ‘They encourage readers to pick and choose from their concepts, selecting those which are useful and simply passing by those which are not.’ See Jameson (2009), 182, on Deleuze ‘as a thinker of synthesis, one who masters the immense proliferation of thoughts and concepts by way of assimilation and appropriation’.

3. See Gilbert (2009), 13: ‘there is little question that it was Deleuze who was one of the key figures to inaugurate this entire phase of French philosophy within which this emphasis on change, self-difference and instability would come to be seen as hallmarks of almost all contemporary thought’.

4. All of Lucan's Latin is quoted from A.E. Housman's (1926) edition of Belli Ciuilis, Libri Decem; all translations are my own. ‘Truncated’: see Dinter (2012), 9.

5. The so-called plus quam nature of the poem suffuses Henderson's reading (1998b), 181: ‘BC determines to mock its efforts to express, bound and limit the plus quam of its multiplying wars.’ See also Willis (2011), 13f.

6. On the ‘multiplicity’ of Roman battle manoeuvres, see Sabin (2000), 2.

7. Massumi (1995), 94.

8. Massumi (1995), 88, with reference to Spinoza's ‘universal notions’ (Ethics 2.40). See also 100: ‘The concepts of nature and culture need serious re-working, in a way that expresses the irreducible alterity of the non-human in and through its active connection to the human, and vice versa. It is time that cultural theorists let matter be matter, brains be brains, jelly-fish be jelly-fish, and culture be nature, in irreducible alterity and infinite connection.’

9. Deleuze and Guattari (2013b), 37. Directly antithetical to the reductive Freudian psychoanalysis (see Freud [1986]). The practitioner of ‘schizoanalysis’ (Deleuze and Guattari [2013b], 33) sees, searches, surveys her surroundings and herself with the fractured, compound-eye vision of an arthropod swarm. See also Deleuze and Guattari (2013b), 30f.

10. See Roche (2009), 61, also Behr (2007), 16–32 and 3, on apostrophe in Latin epic. This technique exemplifies Lucan's polyvocality, inexhaustibly interrupting his own narrative throughout the text (1.23, 2.119–21, 4.186, 6.262, etc.).

11. Roche (2009), 61f. On Lucan's politics, see Fitzgerald (2013), 185; Martindale (1984), 74f., who contends that ‘the subject of the poem is civil war and its ardent horrors, not the loss of libertas’.

12. See Lovano (2013), 74; Henderson (1998b), 165; Toher (1990), 147, beautifully elucidates the intersection of society, history and literature in the Roman world: ‘As a Roman general served the community by his victory, so the chronicle of the campaigns by the historian served the community, but as the act of serving the community was a source of gloria et laus for the generals, so were the histories that described their campaigns.’

13. See Bartsch (1997), 45: reading Lucan (and other Classical authors) alongside modern accounts of warfare demonstrates how Civil War disturbs the conception of ‘the constitution of the self, the inversion of normal ethics, the inadequacy of pre-war language media, the weakness of all definitions, boundaries, rules, laws’.

14. The distinction will be discussed between the ‘war machine’ described in Deleuze and Guattari (2013b), 26, and the more commonly cited ‘military machine’. See DeLanda (2010), 75; Chidwick (2018). On Deleuze and Guattari's social machines, see also Hardt and Negri (2000), 25–8: ‘Machines produce’.

15. For example, the special edition of Critical Studies on Security 5 (1), ‘Becoming Weapon’ (2017). See also MacLeish (2016); Theweleit (1989), 75; Higate and Henry (2010), 44; Chidwick (2018); Massumi (2015); Weizman (2007). For the broader study of ancient warfare informed by modern theory and philosophy, see Caston and Weineck (2016); Coker (2013); Cosmopoulos (2007); Hexter and Selden (1992).

16. miles appears first at Luc. 1.236, thereafter 81 times. By contrast, Virgil's Aeneid features only 7 instances of the word; Statius’ later Thebaid has 10; 3 in Valerius Flaccus’ Argonautica. Lucan is almost surpassed by Silius Italicus’ Punica, in which miles appears 79 times, although this epic's length, at 16 books, still leaves Civil War with a higher concentration of one-many military.

17. On Lucan's reception of the Aeneid, see Keith (2011), 111f.; Narducci (2002), 75–87; and Casali's (2011) response to Narducci.

18. The process of translation naturally produces what we might call an ‘affective’ no-man's-land between copied text and interpreter, a space populated by multiplicities of uncertainty, negotiation and interpretation. See Barratt (1979), 104; Henderson (1998b), 168; Braund (2009), vii: ‘Lucan's Latin can be very difficult and the articulation of his ideas sometimes seems downright perverse.’ On Lucan as a poet, see Quint. Inst. Orat. 10.1.90; Ahl (1976), 1–16. See Paleit (2013), 15, 23, on Civil War's post-Renaissance reception: ‘several readers had plural, sometimes irreconcilable, responses to Lucan’.

19. Bogue (2003b), 4.

20. See Deleuze and Guattari (2013b), 11f.

21. See Deleuze and Guattari (2013b), 30f.; Grossberg (2014), 6. Discussion will largely be limited to this one text, given the diverse associations and uses of multiplicity theory across the pair's oeuvre.

22. See also Masters (1992), 67f., on the logistics of the crossing.

23. It is unclear precisely which legion crosses with Caesar in Civil War, but it is arguably the thirteenth; see Caes. BCiv. 1.7f.

24. See Lucan's epic predecessor, for example: Virg. Aen. 9.178–447, 10.165–212, 10.361–439, 11.648–794, etc.

25. See Deleuze and Guattari (2013b), 587f. Massumi (1992), 54f., posits the distinction between molar and molecular as ‘crucial for understanding Deleuze and Guattari’, noting: ‘The distinction is not one of scale but of composition: it is qualitative, not quantitative.’

26. See Livy 42.34.5; Tac. Hist. 1.57.13; also Phang (2008), 17. gregarius is not used commonly in epic, and not at all in Civil War, presumably for reasons of poetic metre. See Dinter (2012), 22, and Henderson (1998b), 210, on reading Scarry's work with Civil War.

27. Scarry (1985), 70.

28. Caesar is named a ‘colossus’ in the biographies of Billows (2009) and Goldsworthy (2006).

29. Scarry (1985), 118; see also Willis (2011), 64f. See MacLeish (2016), 8, on the twenty-first-century U.S. military camp: ‘Rather, they were multiple—combining into a restless whole’.

30. Lucan is however notoriously vague about the ‘when’ and ‘where’ of his conflicts; see Fantham (2011), 508, and (1985), 125.

31. Willis (2011), 68. See also Martindale (1993), 48: a ‘poem which might well be read under the sign of self-slaughter, both individual and collective’. On civil war, see Kalyvas (2006); Theweleit (1989), 35–9; Edwards (2007), 28–40.

32. On the reciprocal reliance between generals and troops in the late Republic, see Sall. Cat. 11, 37.6; Cic. Planc. 72; Tac. Ann. 4.4.2; Phang (2008), 3–13.

33. See Deleuze and Guattari (2013b), 32f., also 279: ‘Virginia Woolf experiences herself not as a monkey or a fish, but as a troop of monkeys, a school of fish, according to her variable relations of becoming with the people she approaches…What we are saying is that every animal is fundamentally a band, a pack.’

34. See Deleuze and Guattari (2013b), 36f., 46: ‘the Earth—the Deterritorialised, the Glacial, the giant Molecule’. Similar to micro and macro models in political science, micro or molecular multiplicities are those irreducible, subatomic, multiplicities which constitute macro or molar multiplicities.

35. See Beard (2015), 233–6; Patterson (1993), 100; Ando (2000), 1: ‘an agglomeration of territories and ethnic groups conquered in swift and bloody wars’.

36. A commonly cited example of Roman dual patriotism can be found in Cic. Leg. 2.3. Lucan himself was born in Corduba, Spain (39 CE). On those who enlisted, see MacMullen (1984), 441f.; also Tac. Ann. 4.4.2; Cass. Dio 52.27.4.

37. See Deleuze (2004a), 156–61, on the history of a multiplicitous world view in Greek philosophy; also Magun (2013), xi, on Plato's Parmenides, hypothesis 8. On the biological observability of multiplicity, see especially Sagan (2013), 165–84: the human body is a multiplicity of microbes, cells and bacteria, with no absolute boundaries between ‘inside’ and ‘outside’. See Massumi (1995), 98: ‘One could say that a jelly-fish is its brain’. See also Bousquet, Grove and Shah (2017), 5, on the appropriation of Deleuze and Guattari's multiplicity in the context of biological warfare.

38. Hames-García (2011), 4; cf. also 5: ‘Identities thus emerge from, on the one hand, the mutual constitution of various social group memberships and, on the other hand, the mutual constitution of individuals and their environment, including social structures.’

39. Deleuze and Guattari (2013b), 36, also 7.

40. Willis (2011), 59.

41. Deleuze and Guattari (2013b) opens with a discussion of the ‘rhizome’: the rhizome is multiplicity.

42. Deleuze and Guattari (2013b), 28.

43. Holland (2013), 15.

44. Deleuze and Guattari (2013b), 29–44, also 35f.: ‘The wolf, wolves, are intensities, speeds, temperatures…A swarming, a wolfing’.

45. See Deleuze and Guattari (2013b), 34.

46. Elsewhere referred to as the ‘plane of immanence’, in Deleuze and Guattari (1994), 35–60; Massumi (2002), 9f.; the ‘plane of consistency’ is an unrestricted ‘map’ or ‘grid’, lacking hierarchy or stratification, as a state space for multiplicities which are themselves ‘flat’ (Deleuze and Guattari [2013b], 8, 12f.).

47. See Phang (2008), 50f., on the ‘machinic’ army stereotype of the early modern period, in contrast with Roman fighting tactics. However, see Frontin. Str. 4.1, 4.5 and Veg. Mil. 1.26 on maintaining battle lines. As a counterpoint, see Deleuze and Guattari (2013b), 387, on quantitative divisions in the armed forces.

48. See Lendon (2017), 52, on Il. 4.446–9, 11.67–91, and Tac. Ann. 6.35.1.

49. Deleuze and Guattari (2013b), 22.

50. See Dinter (2012), 139–43; Roche (2009), 52–4; Braund (2009), xxxi; Fitzgerald (2013), 189: ‘All Roman authors like to say the same thing twice, but Lucan is the master of bi-locution.’ Lucan's repetition can be attributed to his uncle, Seneca the Younger: the ‘mad echoing of Senecan tragedy’, as discussed in Gunderson (2018), 131. In contrast to Lucan (see below), cadauer is used once only in both the Aeneid (8.264) and Metamorphoses (7.602). See also, of course, Deleuze (1994).

51. On ‘everywhere warfare’ see for example Gregory (2011).

52. See Chrissanthos (2007), 232f.; Sabin (2000), 3f. For Scarry (1985), 12, 64, war is injuring. It is unlikely that Lucan saw combat: awarded an early quaestorship by Nero in 59 CE, he nevertheless would have been aware of military life and his portrayal of the military often (but not always) accords with ancient strategic texts. See Martindale (1984), 64f.; Haskins (1887), xiii–xxvi, which includes Suetonius’ and Vacca's Vita Lucani, respectively. On the centrality of the military in ancient Roman male education, see Keith (2000), 8–35.

53. See Martindale (1993), 66.

54. See Paleit (2013), 9–12, 15; Sklenàř (2003), 1; also Bartsch (1997), 11f.: ‘violent to a degree shared but not rivalled by other Roman writers of his time’. See Woodruff (2016), 157, on war narratives, ‘in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries the ignorant want mostly to hear of the horror of war’.

55. Bartsch (1997), 46, 27. See also Edwards (2007), 33f.; Leigh (1997), 219, on Lucan's hypallage.

56. MacLeish (2012), 54. See Woodward (2004), 118, on military landscapes as ‘places where the identities of soldiers are forged’. On Roman military discipline, see Peddie (1994), 12; Alston (1998), 210: ‘a compromising of the liberty of the individual through military service in order to ensure the freedom of the community was both reasonable and to be expected’.

57. See Deleuze and Guattari (2013b), 460–70, on assemblages and becoming-weaponry in the army. See Frontin. Str. 4.1.42: the removal of the right hand (dextra) was punishment for desertion, as this specific body part rendered a man a soldier. See Scarry (1985), 67, on the human body as ‘an extension of the weapon’; Coker (2013), 62: ‘The human body is naturally disposed to develop and incorporate tools; we have always been, to a greater or lesser extent, cyborgs.’

58. Deleuze and Guattari (2013b), 41. On anti-transcendence, immanence, in which we are inextricably united with our environment, see Deleuze and Guattari (2013b), 21, 179, and (1994), 50: ‘The plane of immanence is interleaved’. See also DeLanda (2012), 225: ‘Deleuze is a realist philosopher, but one determined to populate an autonomous reality exclusively with immanent entities, and to exorcise from it any transcendent ones, like Aristotelian essences.’ See also Massumi (1995) 94: ‘Intensity is immanent to matter and to events, to mind and to body and to every level of bifurcation composing them and which they compose.’

59. Deleuze and Guattari (2013b), 37.

60. Deleuze and Guattari (2013b), 35. The words ‘group’, ‘pack’ and ‘crowd’ all have slightly different connotations in Canetti (1973), 17f., 93.

61. Canetti (1973), 94.

62. Deleuze and Guattari (2013b), 7, cf. also 34–6: ‘An assemblage is precisely this increase in the dimensions of a multiplicity that necessarily changes in nature as it expands its connections.’ The model of ‘machinic assemblages’ in Deleuze and Guattari (2013b) can designate statements and territories (103), or something as abstract as feudalism, comprising ‘the body of the earth and the social body; the body of the overlord, vassal, and serf; the body of the knight and the horse and their new relation to the stirrup; the weapons and tools assuring a symbiosis of bodies—a whole machinic assemblage’. See Dewsbury (2011), 148: ‘assemblages are about how individual organisms (humans, for example) and objects are understood in terms of the intensive environment in which they emerge’; also Wiley and Wise (2019), 10, on the popularity of Deleuze and Guattari's concepts: ‘The 2010s: all we hear about are assemblages’.

63. Deleuze and Guattari (2013b), 35, also 460–70, on the speed and ‘projection’ of tools-becoming-weapons.

64. On impetus, see Phang (2008), 46f., 63; Caes. BCiv. 3.92; Cic. Tusc. 2.37.

65. Caesar rushes (superauerat, 1.183) across the Alps, and is similarly swift at 5.403–5, 6.285, for example; see also Plut. Caes. 28.5. See Willis (2011), 38–55, on Caesar's speed: ‘Julius Caesar is a dromocrat. Paul Virilio tells us so.’ See Deleuze and Guattari (2013b), 461, on Paul Virilio and ‘weapon-speed’.

66. See Henderson (1998b), 171–86, on ‘Lucan-Caesar’.

67. Deleuze and Guattari (2013b), 484; also 412f.: the war machine ought to be conceived of as ‘itself a pure form of exteriority, whereas the State apparatus constitutes the form of interiority we habitually take as a model’.

68. On the Roman army as a ‘machine’, see Peddie (1994); Nicolet (1980), 90; compare Mattern (2009), 127.

69. Deleuze and Guattari (2013b), 41. See also Grossberg (2014), 10; Ballantyne (2007), 20: for Deleuze and Guattari the body itself is ‘a machine or swarm of machines’.

70. Deleuze and Guattari (2013b), 410.

71. Henderson (1998b), 210. During the retelling of the civil war between Marius and Sulla: ‘densi uix agmina uolgiuiua graues elidunt corpora trunci’ (‘so dense the multitude of the mob…the weighty trunks of corpses crush those alive’, Luc. 2.201–6). See Braund's introduction (2008), xlii–xliii, on Lucan's ‘outrageous treatment of dead bodies’; also Bartsch (1997), 12, on the ‘crisis around the body’ in Civil War.

72. Bogue (2003b), 68.

73. Deleuze and Guattari (2013b), 418.

74. ‘Clear the way’: Duff (1928), 13. Compare Fox (2012), 8: ‘making his way with ruin’; Braund (2008), 7: ‘create his path with destruction’. See also Willis (2011), 66; Bexley (2009), 468: ‘Caesar also embodies a violent disregard for natural limits’. On war as producer of citizenship, see Cowen and Gilbert (2008), 2: ‘violence also entails creative destruction’. See also Veg. Mil. 3, preface.

75. Theweleit (1989), 154f. Caesar's army ‘keeps itself moving’ through destruction, reflecting the notion of ‘antiproduction’ in Anti-Oedipus. See Deleuze and Guattari (2013a), 45.

76. Henderson (1998b), 180. See Lovano (2013), 87, on Tac. Hist. 1.68: ‘For the Roman soldiers, victory heals their wounds, nourishes their bodies and restores their spirits.’ Unlike on Homer's war plains, Civil War soldiers are rarely granted the finality of a proper demise: following the torture of Marius Gratidianus, nilletale datum (‘no death was given’, 2.179). On the comparison with Homeric, and Virgilian, wounding and mortality, see Most (1992), 397–9.

77. Bartsch (1997), 46.

78. Most (1992), 399f.: ‘like Seneca, Lucan lingers on mutilation’. For Deleuze and Guattari, machines are ‘a system of cuts’ (Bogue [2003b], 67); see Deleuze and Guattari (2013a), 43, 36.

79. Davis (2012), 147.

80. DeLanda (2010), 10: ‘multiplicities specify the structure of spaces of possibilities, spaces which, in turn, explain the regularities exhibited by morphogenetic processes’ (emphasis in original).

81. See also Chidwick (2018) for a reading of Roman military mobilisation in light of Deleuze and Guattari's theory of ‘territorialisation’.

82. Weizman (2007), 193, also 186: spaces of ‘inverse geometry’ or ‘military infestation’; also Weizman (2006a).

83. Grossberg (2014), 4. See also Robinson (2010); Weizman (2006a).

84. See Wessely (2006), 271, on psychiatric motives for combat ‘disintegration’ or ‘breakdown’.

85. Dinter (2012), 25. See also Henderson (1998b), 174.

86. See Phang (2008), 39–41, 54, on the ‘fluidity’ of Roman fighting tactics.

87. See Aen. 5.415: Entullus states he used to fight ‘when there was better blood in me to grant me strength’ (dum melior uiris sanguis dabat). Blood is an active participant in Civil War (Luc. 3.572f.). See Coffee (2009), 182, on Lucan's use of sanguis: ‘rather than present the legion as an integral unit, Lucan reminds his audience that it is composed of mortal men and vulnerable bodies’ (referring to 2.476f.). Consider also Magun (2013), xiv: ‘Strictly speaking, nothing prevents a fragmented body or network from being somehow unified. There is no contradiction here.’

88. See Cic. De or. 3.167: togam pro pace, arma ac tela pro bello (‘the toga for peace, arms and weapons for war’). Note the singular toga and plural arma, tela.

89. See Roche (2009), 60: ‘delay is the hallmark of Lucan's singer’; also Braund (2009), xxx.

90. See Martindale (1994); Behr (2007), 34: ‘Caesar attacks the Republic through his minion Laelius’; Myers (2011), 407f.; Bexley (2009), 459f.

91. Deleuze and Guattari (2013b), 32: ‘how the subject joins or does not join the pack’.

92. See Bousquet, Grove and Shah (2017), on ‘the becoming of weapons’ (1) in the context of security studies.

93. Deleuze and Guattari (2013b), 31.

94. Thanks are owed in large part to Ellen O'Gorman, for her support and guidance throughout the period of research which informed the writing of this article, also to Alice König and Pantelis Michelakis. Many thanks are due to Kyle Khellaf for his invitation to contribute to this special edition, and for his comments and seemingly innumerable suggestions for further reading.

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