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I. Is there a basis in actual Roman prehistory? Possibly.
II. How Virgil appropriates Homer's epics
A. Uses Homer's way of organizing narrative
1. Long verse narrative (12 books vs. 24)
2. Overarching plot that organizes a variety of stories
3. Strong horizontal forward movement
4. Begins in medias res
B. Poetic style calculated to remind readers of Homer
1. Recurring adjectives and phrases, such as pius Aeneas, like
Homer's oral formulas
2. Long pieces of impressive oratory
C. Parallel elements in the stories
1. Same pantheon of gods, though with Latin names
a. Zeus and Hera Jupiter and Juno
b. Aphrodite Venus
c. Poseidon Neptune
d. Hermes Mercury
e. Athena Minerva
2. Invocation to Muse
3. Voyage to the hero's "home": Ithaka, Italy
4. Visit to Hades
5. Odysseus had Athena for him, Poseidon against Aeneas has
Venus for him, Juno against.
6. Odysseus' long recitation of the aftermath of Troy: Aeneas tells
same from his viewpoint.
7. Dido is like Kirke and Kalypso.
8. Hermes brought message to Kalypso Mercury, to Aeneas.
9. Epic games
10. Big storm narrated in grand style
III. How he tries to outdo Homer
A. Grand poetic effects not available to Homer: speeches descriptions of
B. Grander scale:
1. Geography: whole Mediterranean world
2. Time: all 12 centuries, right up to Virgil's Augustan present
C. A nobler goal for the hero: the destiny of Rome, not just personal
home and satisfaction
D. A theology: Anchises' explanation of Hades
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IV. The Aeneid is, essentially, imperial propaganda
A. Commissioned by Augustus, completed after Virgil's death (19 B.C.)
on Augustus' orders
B. Chief theme: being pius (dutiful and loyal to one's family, past and
1. Aeneas' relationship with Dido
a. Passionate toward her, but obeys Mercury ("oak in a storm"
p. 660, l. 587)
b. Contrast with Dido
i. Kicks against fate (wants Aeneas to corule, kills herself,
ignores demands of queenship)
ii. Alternating love/hate vs. Aeneas love/duty
iii. A woman who rules!
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Augustus took the title Divus