Vergil's Aeneid: A Poem of Grief and Love

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For more than a century, critics of the Aeneid have assumed that all or most of its episodes must propound something about Aeneas and his mission to found the Roman people, and through them about Rome and Augustus; whether that is their positive aspects, or their brutality and destructiveness, or the contrast between the public "voice" of their achievements and the private "voice" of the suffering they cause. This book argues that this assumption is wrong; the Aeneid's main purpose was to present a series of ...

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Overview

For more than a century, critics of the Aeneid have assumed that all or most of its episodes must propound something about Aeneas and his mission to found the Roman people, and through them about Rome and Augustus; whether that is their positive aspects, or their brutality and destructiveness, or the contrast between the public "voice" of their achievements and the private "voice" of the suffering they cause. This book argues that this assumption is wrong; the Aeneid's main purpose was to present a series of emotionally moving episodes, especially pathetic ones.
This book shows that the Aeneid makes more sense when regarded primarily as a series of emotion-arousing episodes than as expressing a pro-Aeneas, anti-Aeneas or two voices message. That is how it was regarded into the nineteenth century and that is what the ancient Greeks and Romans assumed was the main purpose of literature.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9789004096615
  • Publisher: Brill Academic Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 6/1/1993
  • Series: Mnemosyne, Supplements Series , #12
  • Pages: 174
  • Product dimensions: 6.50 (w) x 9.52 (h) x 0.95 (d)

Meet the Author

Steven Farron is Associate Professor of Classics in the University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. He has published extensively on the Aeneid in e.g. Acta Classica, Greece and Rome, Vergilius, and Enciclopedia Virgiliana.

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Table of Contents

Preface
I Nisus and Euryalus 1
A In books 5 and 9 Nisus and Euryalus are praised for their love for each other despite their immorality and neglect of duty 2
B Vergil's culture greatly admired passionate, self-destructive love 14
C Vergil, even more than his contemporaries, admired suffering and dying for love 19
D Modern interpretations of the Nisus-Euryalus episode 24
E Pre-modern interpretations of the Nisus-Euryalus episode 26
II Ancient and modern literary attitudes 31
A Ancient and modern interpretations of Greek tragedy 34
B Ancient emotional reactions to literature, history, oratory, painting, sculpture, music, lectures 39
C Modern reactions to ancient literature and literary criticism 42
D Ancient attempts to find meaning in literature and their relation to the Aeneid 48
E Ancient and modern attitudes to unity in the Homeric epics 51
F Lack of unity in Apollonius' Argonautica and Roman poetry 56
III The poem of grief and love 61
A The looseness of the structure of the Aeneid 61
B Pathos in the Aeneid 63
C Pre-modern reactions to the Dido-Aeneas episode 70
D The relation of the Dido-Aeneas (and Nisus-Euryalus) episode to ancient personal love poetry 81
E The relation of the Dido-Aeneas episode to ancient mythological love poetry 92
F Benefacta and betrayal as a source of pathos for Dido and other ancient lovers 97
G Guilty conscience as a source of pathos for Dido and other characters in the Aeneid and in ancient literature 100
H The purpose of the Dido episode is not to praise or blame Aeneas 108
I The gods in the Dido-Aeneas episode and in ancient amatory literature 124
J Similarities between the gods in book 2 of the Aeneid and in the Dido-Aeneas episode 140
Postscript 146
Appendix: Recent interpretations of the Nisus-Euryalus episode 155
Bibliography 165
Index 172
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