Virgil's Aeneid: Interpretation and Influence

Virgil's Aeneid: Interpretation and Influence

Virgil's Aeneid: Interpretation and Influence

Virgil's Aeneid: Interpretation and Influence


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.


Individual expressions of thanks accompany several essays. I would here like to recognize more general obligations of gratitude. The first is a long- standing debt to my students and to many colleagues at Brown and in the profession. I owe special thanks to William Wyatt, for advice on Homer, to Matthew Santirocco, for his encouragement to make this gathering in the first place, to Joseph Pucci, for casting a keen eye on segments of the final manuscript, and to Kenneth Reckford, for support in this project as in much else. Anthony Hollingsworth offered both time and computer expertise at a crucial moment. Many other friends and family members have been generous in a variety of ways. My thanks go especially to Leonard Barkan, Charles and Polly Chatfield, Kenneth Gaulin, Rachel Jacoff, Daniel Javitch, Pietro Pucci, Charles Segal, and Eugene Vance. It is a pleasure also to recognize here the careful copyediting of Brian MacDonald.

Second, I must acknowledge two institutions of higher learning with which I have been privileged to be associated. Several of these essays found their genesis during a most enriching year spent at the Institute for Advanced Study. I would like to thank my fellow Members for 1987-88 and especially Professor Glen Bowersock for many kindnesses and for erudition unstintingly shared. It remains also to recognize yet again the American Academy in Rome, where splendid library and setting without peer combine to offer the scholar a remarkable haven. Ille terrarum mihi praeter omnis angulus ridet.

With the exception of "Wrathful Aeneas and the Tactics of Pietas," which was written for this volume, all the papers here collected have been published previously. Aside from chapter 11, "Virgil's Tragic Future," whose original has been condensed, any alterations from the initial publication have been essentially cosmetic. I am grateful to the editors of journals or volumes where the essays originally appeared for permission to reprint.

Except where otherwise indicated, the translations are mine. In occasional instances I have allowed minor discrepancies in rendering the Latin to stand, when the same passages recur in different essays, as offering the reader a chance to view the verses from more than one angle.

Michael C. J. Putnam, Providence, Rhode Island, May 1994 . . .

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