Virgil and Homer

Declan Wiseman
Mind Map by Declan Wiseman, updated more than 1 year ago
Declan Wiseman
Created by Declan Wiseman about 5 years ago


Some comparison of Virgil and Homer. Some details on Aeneas legend.

Resource summary

Virgil and Homer
  1. 6: Arms and the man
    1. Virgil reverses Homeric sequence. First half of epic tells journey of Aeneas after fall of Troy. Second half is his arrival in Italy
      1. Virgil is a "sort of counterpart of both the Homeric poems"
        1. Opening words of Aeneid
          1. Refer to theme of warfare
          2. Hellenistic, Alexandrian period of Greek literature
            1. Callimachus and Theocritus
              1. Composition on much smaller scale
              2. Roman tastes from late republic
                1. Alexandrian taste
                  1. Virgil reflects some of this
                    1. Romantic, elegance, symmetry and musicality of verse reflects Alexandrian emphasis on these qualities
                      1. Offers an unfashionable manifesto against Alexandrian minaturism by going back to Homer's style
              3. 7: The Aeneas Legend
                1. Iliad tells prophecy by Poseidon- Aineias is destined to survive...shall reign over the Trojans
                  1. Aeneas unique among Trojan heroes, survives fall of Troy and has important future
                  2. Recorded by Greek historian Hellanicus 5th century BC
                    1. Aeneas foundor of Lavinium
                      1. Son Ascanius ruler of Alba Longa
                      2. Virgil says Aeneas himself will only rule 3 years, but will be deified
                        1. Takes place with local heroes of Rome, allows link to Iliad and to push back the civilisation in Latium to the Bronze Age, balancing warlike legends (think Romulus) with pietas hero
                          1. Aeneas special because of his military prowess and pietas
                            1. Fall of Troy could be seen as necessary precursor to rise of Rome
                              1. The Aeneid is the story of how 'out of this nettle, danger, we pluck this flower, safely'
                              2. The Odyssean Aeneid
                                1. Aeneid has two halves
                                  1. Begins in medias res
                                    1. Includes flashbacks
                                      1. Second half is battle on battlefield
                                        1. Aeneas also caught in storm
                                          1. Homer is expansive while Virgil compresses and tightens the narrative structure
                                            1. Virgil wrote for a readership educated in Greek literature
                                              1. Virgil saw Homer as a remote ancestor
                                                1. Virgil preserved homecoming motif
                                                  1. Aeneas not invader, usurper, but claiming his rightful heritage, destined to rule in Italy
                                                  2. Aeneas meets cyclops, Scylla, Charybdis
                                                    1. First half of Aeneid 3 emotional climaxes
                                                      1. B2
                                                        1. Aeneas narrates to Dido events of last night of Troy
                                                        2. B4
                                                          1. Virgil narrates, fatal passion of Dido for Aeneas, her suicide
                                                          2. B6
                                                            1. Sibyl of Cumae, leads to underworld, meets father, reveals future greatness of Rome
                                                        3. 9: The Iliadic Aeneid
                                                          1. Book 6 is the pivot of the whole poem
                                                            1. Aeneas personal transition from wanderer to commander/exile and despair to sense of mission and responsibiltiy
                                                              1. Anchises addresses his son and the Roman of the poet's day "remember, Roman, your task is to rule, to establish peace and civlisation, to put down the proud and spare the defeated'
                                                                1. Rivers Simois and Xanthus is Troy reappear as the Tiiber
                                                                  1. The Latin camp will replace Greek one
                                                                    1. Sibyl at Cumae
                                                                      1. The second Achilles who awaits Aeneas is Turnus
                                                                        1. Lavinia is like Helen, betrothed to Turnus until Aeneas' arrival causing King Latinus to change his mind, like Menelaus' wife being taken by Paris
                                                                          1. Not the principal theme as in both
                                                                        2. Book 7, Aeneas turns to the greater matter, theme of war
                                                                          1. Starts a greater work, i.e the Iliad
                                                                            1. Ancients were familiar with a cylic view of history in which the patterns of events are repeated
                                                                              1. Virgil felt coming of Augustus that recurring cycle of evil and good would be broken, with a more permanent peace to follow
                                                                                1. Aeneas arrives in Latium in peace, to found a settlment
                                                                                  1. Significant change from Homer- no expeditionary force, war that Aeneas has to fight isn't what he desires
                                                                                    1. Caused by Turnus, angry at being rejected as suitor
                                                                                      1. In the war, Turnus kills Pallas, assumes the role of Patroclus in Iliad. The killing of Turnus by Aeneas forms climax of Aeneid as the killing of Hector by Achilles formed climax of Iliad
                                                                                        1. Whilst Aeneas is absent, like Achilles, hte war goes badly.
                                                                                          1. Aeneas not absent due to anger or hurt pride, but diplomatic missions
                                                                              2. Aeneas had been in loco parentis to Pallas
                                                                                1. His father had entrusted him to his tutelage
                                                                                  1. So feels a debt to EVander which must be repaid in the killing of Turnus
                                                                                2. Homeric heroes fight for individual glory, in comparison to collective patriotism/sense of divine mission
                                                                                  1. Virgil directly imitates Homer in the aristeia
                                                                                    1. But takes much further the sympathy for the doomed Trojan Hector
                                                                                    2. Young men, untried warriors of Aeneid, 10 year veterans Iliad
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