Classical Literature and Its Times: Profiles of Notable by Joyce Moss

By Joyce Moss

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Additional info for Classical Literature and Its Times: Profiles of Notable Literary Works and the Historical Events That Influenced Them (World Literature and Its Times, Volume 8)

Example text

Still trying to undo Aeneas, Juno calls upon the fury Allecto, a punishing spirit to help stir up the war. The text presents a catalog of Italian forces arrayed against Aeneas and the Trojans. Book 8 begins with the river-god Tiber appearing to Aeneas, telling him to seek help from some Greek colonists of Arcadia who have settled in Italy. Aeneas acts accordingly, meeting Evander, king of the Arcadians, who lives with his people on the future site of Rome. Evander introduces his son, Pallas, and gives Aeneas a tour of the land that will become Rome.

According to Tacitus (c. 55-117 CE), "the people, when they heard [Virgil's] verses in the theater, all rose and cheered the poet, who happened to be present, as if he were Augustus himself (Tacitus in Zanker p. 194). The popularity of the poem is reflected as well in its effect on Augustan sculpture: "[Virgil's] depiction of Aeneas as heroic founder-figure almost certainly contributed to the prominence of Aeneas in major Augustan monuments such as the Ara Pacis (planned between 13 and 9 BCE) and the Forum of Augustus (dedicated in 2 BCE).

In his record of deeds, Augustus himself boasts of the unified support of Italy in his war against Antony and Cleopatra, the enemies the poem clearly has in mind, though they are conspicuously unnamed. The whole of Italy of its own free will swore allegiance to me and demanded me as the leader in the war in which I was victorious at Actium. . More than seven hundred senators served under my standards at that time . . 2-3) While Virgil never saw the complete record above, he was certainly in touch with the language that Augustus and his circle used in constructing an identity for the regime.

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