Valenstein/Wiley

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Valenstein/Wiley

  1. 1. Introduction to Vergil’s Aeneid September 12, 2012
  2. 2. Publius Vergilius Maro (70-19 BCE) Born in Northern Italy Spent early life on his father’s farmlands: → central to his education → impacts poetic sensibilities Resident of Rome from 41 BCE until death Major works: → distributed the Eclogues in 37 BCE (whence “Virgil”) → distributed the Georgics in 30 BCE → worked on the Aeneid for 10 years, remained unfinished
  3. 3. How Vergil Became Virgil From the “Fourth Eclogue”: Now the last age by Cumaes Sibyl sung Has come and gone, and the majestic roll Of circling centuries begins anew: Justice returns, returns old Saturns reign, With a new breed of men sent down from heaven. Only do thou, at the boys birth in whom The iron shall cease, the golden race arise… Early Christian Church viewed as divine revelation of the coming of Jesus Christ Treated Virgil as a saint, preserving all his work
  4. 4. From Republic to Empire 71 BCE: Revolt of Spartacus; First TriumvirateVergil b. 70 BCE 67 BCE: Pompey makes the Mediterranean mare nostrum 58-51 BCE: Caesar’s military campaigns in Gaul 49-45 BCE: Civil War between Pompey and Caesar 44 BCE: Caesar is assassinated; Second Triumvirate 42 BCE: Philippi—Octavian and Antony defeat Brutus and Cassius 31 BCE: Actium—Octavian defeats Antony and Cleopatra;Literary Career he rules as Augustus from 29-14 BCE.Vergil d. 19 BCE
  5. 5. Wealthy Patrons & Pax Romana Patron-Client Relationship → Wealthy citizens supports poets and artists → Cultural service, but also status symbol Augustus, as emperor, sponsors several poets, including Horace and Vergil → Legitimize his leadership → Glorify imperialism → Praise traditional Roman values Augustus informally commissions the Aeneid to rival the epic poetry of Homer
  6. 6. The Aeneid Arguably, the most important work of Roman literature Commissioned by Augustus to rival the Greek epics → Books 1-6 = Odyssey → Books 7-12 = Iliad Worked from 29 BCE until his untimely death National Epic: → Foundational Myth → Roman Imperial History and Destiny → Statement of Roman and Stoic values
  7. 7. Myth, History, and Destiny Aeneas is a Trojan prince, the son of Venus → Aeneas is an ancestor of Augustus (divine right) Prophecies of the future greatness of Rome Dramatizes and gives mythic significance to rivals: → Most famously, Carthage—Rome’s fiercest enemy → The Punic Wars (264-146 BCE) → Dido (Books 1-4)
  8. 8. Roman & Stoic Values Pietas: → Duty and loyalty to the gods, family, and Fate → By extension, a Roman’s duty to Rome/Augustus (public life) Gravitas: → Deep seriousness in political and religious matters; rational, unemotional, dispassionate Auctoritas: → Power and respect won by men of experience in leadership → Pater familias = head of Roman family Fatum: → There is always a right choice: Embrace Fate by doing your duty in accordance with universal reason
  9. 9. The Poetry of Vergil’s Aeneid Dactylic Hexameter Arma virumque cano Professor Stroh’s dramatic performance of Book IV

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