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Full Access “incredibilis fama”: Some Remnants of Time in Virgilian Epic

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“incredibilis fama”: Some Remnants of Time in Virgilian Epic

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Abstract This paper reads out two very well-known moments in Books 3 and 1 of Virgil’s epic poem in order to address a Virgilian tactic, a poetic strategy, that has not been fully requited in the criticism. These are moments in which the poet chooses to foreground absurd, excessive, epiphenomenal and short-lived things that time seems to bring about. Aeneas, Virgil’s unlikely hero, struggles as much with such moments as he does with all the sworn enemies of the Trojans. He struggles especially with the temptation toward a poignant, nostalgic fixation on his tragic past. He is told that he must become devoted religiously to the greatest of Troy’s enemies, the goddess Juno. It is inside a Carthaginian temple dedicated to Juno that the hero experiences the ‘newness’ that a great work of art is always able to proffer. But Virgil knows that Carthage and Juno’s temple and the works of art themselves will all become follies of time, left in ruins by the romanitas that Aeneas has just been encouraged to prepare.

Affiliations: 1: 718 Commonwealth Avenue, Room 305, Boston University, Boston, MA 02215 dcosta@bu.edu

10.1163/156852412X631619
/content/journals/10.1163/156852412x631619
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Abstract This paper reads out two very well-known moments in Books 3 and 1 of Virgil’s epic poem in order to address a Virgilian tactic, a poetic strategy, that has not been fully requited in the criticism. These are moments in which the poet chooses to foreground absurd, excessive, epiphenomenal and short-lived things that time seems to bring about. Aeneas, Virgil’s unlikely hero, struggles as much with such moments as he does with all the sworn enemies of the Trojans. He struggles especially with the temptation toward a poignant, nostalgic fixation on his tragic past. He is told that he must become devoted religiously to the greatest of Troy’s enemies, the goddess Juno. It is inside a Carthaginian temple dedicated to Juno that the hero experiences the ‘newness’ that a great work of art is always able to proffer. But Virgil knows that Carthage and Juno’s temple and the works of art themselves will all become follies of time, left in ruins by the romanitas that Aeneas has just been encouraged to prepare.

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1. Bettini Maurizio "“Ghosts of Exile: Doubles and Nostalgia in Vergil’s parva Troia.”" Classical Antiquity 1997 Vol 16 8 33 http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/25011052
2. Block Elizabeth The Effects of Divine Manifestation on the Reader’s Perspective in Vergil’s Aeneid 1981 New York
3. Conte Gian Biagio The Poetry of Pathos: Studies in Virgilian Epic. 2007 Oxford Oxford UP http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199287017.001.0001
4. Greene Thomas Bloom Harold "“The Descent from Heaven: Virgil.”" Virgil: Modern Critical Views 1986 New York Chelsea House
5. Horsfall Nicholas Virgil, Aeneid 3: a Commentary 2006 Leiden Brill
6. James S.L. "“Establishing Rome with the Sword: conderein the Aeneid.”" The American Journal of Philology 1995 Vol 116 4 623 637 http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/295407
7. Mack Sara Patterns of Time in Vergil Hamden, CT Archon Press
8. P. Vergili Maronis Opera 1969 recognovit R.A.B. Mynors, Oxonii e typographeo Clarendoniano
9. Miller J.F. "“The Shield of Argive Abas at Aeneid3.286.”" Classical Quarterly 1993 Vol 43 ii 445 450 http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0009838800039963
10. Parry Adam Bloom Harold "“The Two Voices of Virgil’s Aeneid.”" Virgil: Modern Critical Views 1986 New York Chelsea House
11. Putnam Michael Virgil’sAeneid: Interpretation and Influence 1995 Chapel Hill University of North Carolina Press
12. Putnam Michael C.J. Virgil’s Epic Design: Ekphrasis in the Aeneid 1998 New Haven Yale University Press
13. Quint David "“Painful Memories: Aeneid3 and the Problem of the Past.”" Classical Journal 1982 Vol 78 30 38
14. Reed J.D. Virgil’s Gaze: Nation and Poetry in the Aeneid 2007 Princeton, NJ Princeton University Press
15. Smith Riggs Alden The Primacy of Vision in Virgil’s Aeneid 2005 Austin University of Texas Press
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/content/journals/10.1163/156852412x631619
2012-01-01
2016-12-06

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