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Music, Craft, and Technology in the Similes in Vergil’s Aeneid

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image of Greek and Roman Musical Studies

Human beings in epic similes often rely on forms of specialized expertise to make new things and to create order in the world around them. The ways that the similes in a given epic poem represent craft and technology convey fundamental points about the larger world view of that poem in relation to human beings and the contours of epic poetry. A simile featuring a singer or poet in particular invites the audience of a poem to draw parallels between the musical simile and the epic poem in which it appears. The single musical simile in the Aeneid, 7.699-702, creates a portrait of the limits of human agency, the nature of group identity and musical performance, and the qualities of the Aeneid as an epic poem. The themes and modes of presentation in this simile are characteristic of the ‘song’ that Vergil has created with his own Aeneid.

Affiliations: 1: University of Texas at Austin


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