Virgil, Aeneid 7: A Commentary

Virgil, Aeneid 7: A Commentary

Virgil, Aeneid 7: A Commentary

Virgil, Aeneid 7: A Commentary

Synopsis

This commentary was begun in 1967, but most of the period from 1971 to 1996 was spent on work that was in some sense an essential preliminary to a detailed study of Aeneid 7. The work will serve as a guide to recent (and future) work on Virgilian language, grammar, syntax and style. Recent approaches to the text have been, where possible, taken into account, with sympathy but without jargon. Virgils sources, in verse and prose, have been studied with special care and the commentary presents a coherent approach to Virgils view of Italian religion, antiquities and topography. Unusually full indexing is intended to further the books use as a guide to many aspects of Augustan poetic idiom. There is a text independent of recent editions and a precise, prose translation.

Excerpt

Little though I appreciate the eager pursuit of minute balances in V.'s text (the use of fractions included; cf. Companion, 74, n.53), and little though we should be impressed by the use of vague definitions of sections in the text to create the appearance of balance or crossreferencing (Williams (641-817, §ii) does not persuade), structural arrangements (cf. G. ed. R.Thomas, index, s.v.) are certainly there to be found, without resort to a calculator, and the epic is bound together by a dense network of cross-references and balances, not only allusive (Knauer, Nelis), but also formal and explicit (cf. Companion, 135-7). That is true even of a book so obviously tripartite as 7 (cf. E.A.Fredericksmeyer, CF 80(1985), 228-37). I discuss below in some detail the structure both of the Allecto-scenes, 341-539 (gleaning where Fraenkel reaped), and of the Catalogue (641-817, §2), but here gather together in summary form a number of other observations:

1-4 (Caieta) both binds bk.7 to bks.5 and 6 (Misenus, Deiphobus, Palinurus) and reactivates the Trojans' onward mobility (cf. 37-45 on the place of 1-4 in the sequence of Homeric allusion and Odyssean adventure); 5-24 (Circe) and 25-36 (Tiber-mouth) are balanced thematically with minute care (cf. introductions) in a narrative sequence both Homeric and Apollonian (I leave aside here the further issue of the significance of the parallels with bk. 1), while the Iliadic character of the ensuing narrative is introduced in a proemium (37-45) both Iliadic in content and historical in tone, though introduced by a last majestic Apollonian echo in anticipation of the failed love-story which underlies what follows. V.'s terse account (45-57) of the state of Latium at Aen.'s arrival recalls in function perhaps both poets (AR, Enn.) and historians. Divine opposition to a match between Lavinia and Turnus (5880) is expressed in coupled portents (59-70, 71-80) which swiftly result in (81) Latinus' consultation of his father's oracle (81-101; cf. 47, 48). The news of Faunus' response had spread just as the Trojans arrived (102-6), a summary which binds together the Trojan and Latin strands of the preceding narrative. The fulfilment of Anchises' interpretation of Celaeno's oracle in bk.3 (107-47) moves the convinced Aeneas (130) to send scouts at dawn (148) the next day; Aen. builds a city/ camp (crucial in bk.9), while the scouts reach Latinus' city (148-69). The king invites the Trojan embassy to enter his palace:

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