Look out for the following motifs/symbols: FLAME/FIRE, FURY, GOLD, WOUND, SNAKE. How do these motifs signal the dark side of empire?
Synopsis of Vergil’s Aeneid Books 2-6 from Williams (1996: xvii-xviii):
“Books 2 and 3. These books are a flash-back in which Aeneas tells to Dido the story of his fortunes prior to the action of Book 1. The second book is intense and tragic, concerned with the events of one single night, the night of Troy’s destruction. The third book is slow-moving, conveying the weary endurance of years of voyaging to reach the ‘ever-receding shores’ of Italy.
“Book 4. The story of the love of Dido and Aeneas is continued. Jupiter sends Mercury to order Aeneas to leave Carthage in order to fulfil his divine mission to found Rome, and he immediately realises that he must sacrifice his personal love for Dido to his national and religious duty. He attempts to explain to Dido why he has to leave her, but she accepts no explanation and, as the Trojans depart, in frenzy and despair she kills herself.
“Book 5. The Trojans return to Sicily and celebrate funeral games for Aeneas’ father Anchises who had died there a year earlier. Juno causes the Trojan women to set fire to the ships, but the fire is quenched by Jupiter. On the last stage of the journey the helmsman Palinurus is swept overboard by the god Sleep.
“Book 6. The Trojans reach Italy at Cumae, and Aeneas descends with the Sibyl to the underworld in order to consult the ghost of his father Anchises. The future heroes of Roman history pass in a pageant before him, and he returns to the upper world in resolution.”
Aeneid Book 3:
3.13-68: Thrace. Polydorus speaks.
3.69-135: Delos. Apollo’s oracle. “Seek your ancient mother.”
3.136-171: Crete. Plague. Aeneas — Penates — Hesperia.
3.209- 257: Strophades (“Turning Islands”). Harpies. “Eat your tables.”
3.280: Actium. “Held Trojan ritual games on Actium’s shore.” — Actian games 29 BCE
3.300-505: Buthrotum. Replica Troy. Helenus and Andromache.
3.558f.: Scylla (in Odysseus’ footsteps).
3.569f.: Cyclops (in Odysseus’ footsteps).
3.707-715: Sicily. Death of Anchises at Drepanum.
Aeneid Book 4:
At regina,…“But the queen…” 3x in Book 4 as a structural feature = 4.1, 4.296, 4.504. Book 4 is constructed carefully like a tragedy.
4.1-55: Dido and Anna.
4.68: Infelix Dido (cf. 4.68, 4.596, 6.456). Deer simile. Aeneas had shot 7 stags in Book 1 (1.193). At the end of Book 1 Dido had already been called infelix (1.660) — poisoned with passion by Cupid.
4.85: “The towers she started do not rise.” cf. 1.437: “What luck they have — their walls grow high already!” AMOR | MORA
4.91-128: Juno and Venus. 4.125-127: “I’ll be there and — with your sanction — | Join her to him and make her his in marriage | On firm ground.”
4.160-172: Hunt. Storm. THE CAVE. Marriage??? (Juno is goddess of marriage.)
4.173-218: RUMOR. King Jarbas’ jealousy. Jarbas prays to Jupiter (4.206-218).
4.222-237: Jupiter sends Mercury to Aeneas. “This wasn’t what his lovely mother promised…But to rule Italy, beget an empire” (4.227-229). “Does he begrude his son the Roman citadel?” (4.234)
4.259-275: Mercury finds Aeneas, dressed up like a Carthaginian prince, laying foundations. Mercury refers to Dido as Aeneas’ wife (4.265). “Think of your hopes as Iulus grows, your heir, | Owed an Italian realm and Roman soil.” (4.274-275)
4.296: At regina. “But who can fool a lover?”
4.304-330: Dido confronts Aeneas.
4.333-361: Aeneas’ response.
4.338-339: “and as for ‘husband,’ | I never made a pact of marriage with you.” 😮
4.365-387: Dido’s response.
4.394-395: “though he wished | To give some comfort for so great a grief, | Obeyed the gods, returning to his ships”
4.450ff: Dido wishes for death. Dido the Witch.
4.504: At regina.
4.645-671: Death of Dido.
4.671-687: Anna abandoned.
Wall painting depicting Dido on a throne at Carthage. Behind Dido, another attendant holds a parasol over her head. On the left, a dark-skinned, black-haired woman holds a tusk; on the right, a woman wearing an elephant headdress. Together they symbolize Africa. In the background a ship — representing the departure of Aeneas. From the House of Meleager at Pompeii (VI.9.2). Image: Vroma. For an exploration of the depiction of race in antiquity, see The Image of the Black in Western Art. From the Pharaohs to the Fall of the Roman Empire. Vol 1. Edited by David Bindman, Henry Louis Gates, Jr. [Mugar: N8232 .I46 2010]
Aeneid Book 5:
5.1: interea. “Meanwhile…”
5.45ff.: Funeral games for Anchises. Heroic world at play without fatal consequences. Aeneas = Achilles in Iliad 23, recovering sense of leadership.
5.72-103: Sacrifices at tomb of Anchises. Libations. Snake tastes offerings, disappears. Aeneas recognizes his father’s presence.
5.114-285: Ship race.
5.286-361: Foot race. Nisus trips Salius so that his friend Eryalus can win. (Nisus + Euryalus ~ real war of Book 9)
5.545-603: lusus Troiae. Troy Game. Labyrinth simile (5.589-591). Maze-like equestrian manoeuvres performed by youths. Known from the time of Sulla (Plut. Cato Minor 3). Revived by Julius Caesar (Suet. Iul. 39). Augustus made this a regular institution performed by noble boys (Suet. Aug. 43). Iulus introduces this intricate ceremony to Alba Longa (5.596-600).
Etruscan oinochoe from Tragliatella near Caere (7th c. BCE) “clearly features two horseback riders, the drawing of a maze, the word TRUIA, and two copulating couples” (Miller 2000: 235). The vase shows that the connection between rituals on horseback and labyrinths existed prior to Vergil. The word TRUIA here probably refers to movement or dancing rather than Troy (the old Latin words amptruare, redamptruare refer to specific, sacral dances, Williams 1996: 433-434). Images: archart.it.
5.571: Iulus rides the Sidonian horse, a gift from Dido.
5.604-63: Juno sends Iris. Trojan women to burn the ships.
5.664-99: Fire quenched by rain from Jupiter. All but four ships are saved.
5.700-45: Aeneas doubts himself, considers staying in Sicily. Nautes’ advice. Anchises appears in a dream.
5.746-778: A new city is founded in Sicily with a temple to Venus at Eryx. Anchises’ tomb gets a priest.
5.779-826: Venus complains to Neptune. Neptune says one life must be lost.
5.827-871: Palinurus the helsman thrown into the sea by Sleep.
Book 2, Creusa — wife
Book 3, Anchises — father
Book 4, Dido — lover (wife?)
Book 5, Palinurus — helmsman
5.870-871: “Oh, trusting victim of calm sea and sky,
Unburied on some strange shore, Palinurus!”
Aeneid Book 6:
6.1: sic fatur lacrimans…”He spoke in tears…”
6.9-39: Temple of Apollo. The doors of Daedalus. The Sibyl. NO TIME FOR GAWKING.
6.136-155: 1) Get the Golden Bough. 2) Bury your friend (Misenus).
6.146-148: “Pluck it. It should fall gladly in your hand, | If fate has summoned you. If not, your whole strength | Will fail — you will not tear it off with hard steel.”
6.211: cunctantem — it hesitates!
6.337-83: Underworld. Palinurus. “Sorry you’re dead. Have some fame.”
6.456-472: Underworld. Dido.
6.494-545: Underworld. Deiphobus.
6.679ff.: Underworld. Anchises.
6.889: “lust for glory in the future.”
6.893: Gates of Sleep — Horn (true), Ivory (false). Ivory. 😮
- Alison Keith, Engendering Rome: Women in Latin Epic (2000), available to read online via BU library, and Mugar: PA6054 .K44 2000.
- Paul Allen Miller, “The Minotaur within: Fire, the Labyrinth, and Strategies of Containment in Aeneid 5 and 6.” Classical Philology, Vol. 90. No. 3. (Jul., 1995), pp. 225-240.
- R. D. Williams’ commentary on Aeneid I-VI [Mugar: PA6802.A1 W5 1996].