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The Final Simile in the Aeneid

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Mechanics of Warfare and Textual Mechanisms

image of Mnemosyne

Turnus’ ballistic effort in the poem’s finale is answered by a contrapuntal simile describing Aeneas’ spear-throw as a salvo from a siege-engine: Turnus’ abortive feat, emulating an archaic epic gesture, now marks the anarcho-primitivist, while the ballista image—a conspicuous, forward-looking anachronism—pointedly plays off ‘modern’ technological rationality against a model of outdated heroics. As symbol and metonymy, this tension recapitulates aspects of the poem’s teleological design and, as such, discloses the mechanisms of the text’s own functioning: the simile of mechanized warfare echoes the theme of Jupiter’s blueprint with its defining polarities chaos/order, uis/ consilium, nature/culture, and the forward march of history.

Affiliations: 1: Birkbeck, University of London Department of History, Classics and Archaeology London, wc1b5 dq UK


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