Virgil's Aeneid: Interpretation and Influence

Synopsis

In this collection of twelve of his essays, distinguished Virgil scholar Michael Putnam examines the Aeneid from several different interpretive angles. He identifies the themes that permeate the epic, provides detailed interpretations of its individual books, and analyzes the poem's influence on later writers, including Ovid, Lucan, Seneca, and Dante. In addition, a major essay on wrathful Aeneas and the tactics of Pietas is published here for the first time.

Putnam first surveys the intellectual development that shaped Virgil's poetry. He then examines several of the poem's recurrent dichotomies and metaphors, including idealism and realism, the line and the circle, and piety and fury. In succeeding chapters, he examines in detail the meaning of particular books of the Aeneid and argues that a close reading of the end of the epic is crucial for understanding the poem as a whole and Virgil's goals in composing it.