The Primacy of Vision in Virgil's Aeneid

By Riggs Alden Smith | Go to book overview

chapter 4
Hic amor
LOVE, VISION, AND DESTINY

I met a lady in the meads,

Full beautiful, a fairy's child;
Her hair was long, her foot was light,
And her eyes were wild.
I saw pale kings, and princes too,
Pale warriors, death pale were they all;
They cried—"La belle dame sans merci
Hath thee in thrall!"

KEATS, "La Belle Dame sans Merci:

A Ballad," 13–16, 37–40

In Keats' "La Belle Dame sans Merci," a lonely knight-at-arms encounters a dryadlike girl whose eyes capture his gaze. Although he symbolically endeavors to overcome her waywardness by closing her "wild" eyes with kisses, the knight senses that the relationship cannot endure. In his dreams, the knight can see the "death-pale" succession of lovers from the girl's past. By the end of the poem, the knight has become a voyant-visible, able to see another's past and present while anticipating the dangerous future that awaits him should he remain where "the sedge is wither'd from the lake / and no birds sing" (3–4, 47–48).

Virgil uses similar visual imagery in the Aeneid to illustrate the creation and destruction of Dido and Aeneas' relationship. Virgil interweaves visual description with amatory allusions, contrasting vision and love of Aeneas' future country with the lovers' glances and the present reality of their love

-97-

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The Primacy of Vision in Virgil's Aeneid
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface and Acknowledgments ix
  • Text and Art Acknowledgments xiii
  • Abbreviations xv
  • Chapter 1 - Prophaenomena Ad Vergilium 1
  • Chapter 2 - Ruse and Revelation Visions of the Divine and the Telos of Narrative 24
  • Chapter 3 - Vision Past and Future 60
  • Chapter 4 - Hic Amor Love, Vision, and Destiny 97
  • Chapter 5 - Vidi, Vici Vision's Victory and the Telos of Narrative 128
  • Chapter 6 - Conclusion Ante Ora Parentum 176
  • Notes 183
  • Bibliography 223
  • Subject Index 237
  • Index Locorum 247
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