Sunday, May 31, 2009

Otepoti's POV Books I and II

Tena koutou (hello all).

An interesting sidelight to the Aeneid publishing history is that Virgil asked for it to be destroyed after his death. Good thing it wasn't, then, but it's intriguing that he either thought so little of it or somehow felt it might damage his lasting reputation. Perhpas he was a little ashamed of commercialization?

Like you, Elizabeth, I was struck by the lines where Aeneas implores his mother the goddess to show herself clearly. Book I 407ff:

"Must you too be cruel? Must you make game of your son
With shapes of sheer illusion? Oh, why may we not join
Hand to hand, or ever converse straightforwardly?"

When we take this line in conjunction with Paul's speech to the Athenians - "Men of Athens, I perceive that you are very religious," etc. referring to the altar of the Unknown God, we can see how blessed we are to know to whom we pray because in His mercy, He revealed Himself.

The other aspect of Bks I and II that has intrigued me is the framing. Not just the opening, "I sing of arms and the man", etc, but the whole Fall of Troy narrated as a flashback by Aeneas to the court of Dido. I wonder if this device had ever been used before? (Has anyone read the Odyssey recently?)

Then again, there's Aeneas' emtional reaction to seeing the fall of his friends depicted on the temple wall. I was trying to think of a modern analogy, and I think it might be like a 9/11 survivor seeing footage replayed over and over on the television stations of a not particularly friendly foreign power.

With the Dido narrative, we could be aware of contemporary Roman attitudes to Carthage - "Carthago delenda est," etc, in the way this foreign power appears in the story.

Lastly, I don't think we should worry about ripping through this in a hurry. Although written in literate times, I suspect it was primarily intended to be read aloud to a group. So in hurrying through, we're not doing any violence to the original intention. I think! Comments? Questions?



1 comment:

Betty Duffy said...

I too was struck by his grief over the loss of life. I don't know why that would surprise me, but it seems like people jumped into wars sort of flippantly in the ancient world, and that warfare was a city's primary occupation.