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Aeneid Notes

  • 31 BCE - battle of Actium
  • 29 BCE - Principate
  • He was trying to create an epic for Rome
  • Romans are good engineers, soldiers, etc. They do not have that many humanities, though.
  • Aneas was the main character and he was a very minor character
  • The goal was to create a direct line of descent from the golden age to Agustus
  • The ideas that are set forth are:
    • Rome is the center of the universe
    • It is the destiny of Rome to rule the world
    • Romans are by nature better than any other ethnic group or racial group on the planet
    • The best form of government is one with a strong central leader
  • He is also using the Aeneid to advance a political agenda although it is a brilliantly written epic poem.
  • Human beings are infinitely malleable
  • Because it is read so often, the ideas that are proposed in the Aeneid become truth
  • The Pax Romana enabled this.
    • There was a common language in that was spoken from one end of the empire to the other - latin
    • The trade of goods and of ideas can happen extremely rapidly because of this
    • The book is read by conquered people all over
    • It is able to spread so far so fast because of roads and trade and travel
    • The Aeneid has been the most widely read and best written piece of literature (western) for 1500 years
    • It is written in the same metric style as Homer (Dactylic Hexameter)
    • This is easy to do in Greek and very hard to do in Italian
  • Accent, no accent, no accent
  • Book 2 contains Dido’s tale to Carthage
  • They have a political agenda and the Trojans have to be presented as the good guys. The idea is that here is a horse and that they take it inside. Virgil *shows that they argued about it.
  • That has to do with predestination.
    • The Romans believe in predestination as much as the Greeks.
    • Look into priests switching.
      • He is not questioning the gods, he is questioning the greeks. Athena wants to destroy Troy and she is the one who sends the serpents.
      • There were hundreds of gods
      • The illiad and the odyssey were common reading among the educated
    • Virgil’s audience was Roman citizens - people who were ethnically Roman
  • The Romans believed very heavily in ghosts while the Greeks thought that once someone died, you had to go through an oracle or you had to go to the entrance *of the underworld
  • Aeneus is dutiful
  • His sons were killed as well because you can live through your children and so they were sending the message that if you question this, something bad will happen to you as well as your kids *Roman military has a strict hierarchy
    • Some names were changed for unknown reasons - perhaps due to the change in alphabet from Greek to Rome
  • The style of the Aeneid and the style of the Iliad are very different
    • In the Iliad, Priam had no more sons except for Paris
  • There are a lot of Trojans on top of many buildings
  • They are trying to kill as many Greeks as possible
    • They believed that the gods would not allow the desecration of their altar

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