VISION'S VICTORY AND THE TELOS OF NARRATIVE
Pontico triumpho inter pompae fercula trium uerborum praetulit
titulum veni : vidi : vici …
SUETONIUS, Vita Divi Iulii, 371
The first half of the Aeneid, which showcases Aeneas and Dido's love affair, flows into a treatment of primarily martial themes in the second half; these themes point toward Aeneas' killing of Turnus, the act that will lead ultimately to establishing the Roman nation. In the Aeneid's second half, there emerges an increase in the importance of visual stimuli and a waning in the influence of rhetorical persuasion. This shift toward vision's predominance quietly but pointedly reflects the building program of Julius Caesar and Augustus.
At the time of the writing of the Aeneid, Rome's first emperor was arranging a monumental progression of visual signals in the form of statues lining the flanking of colonnades of the Forum Augustum, a structure that, as Carole Newlands has argued, was all Augustus' own.2 In about 25 bc, the first emperor began construction of the Forum Augustum contiguous with and perpendicular to Julius Caesar's forum, which was itself connected to the Forum Romanum.3 From the visually striking Forum of Caesar, one could easily pass into the Forum Augustum, which was undergoing construction at the time of Virgil's death. Slow as the completion apparently was,4 Virgil would likely have known the lines along which the forum, marvelous even a hundred years later,5 was being developed.
The Forum of Augustus enhances the two major themes of love and war by associating them with the gens Iulia and Rome's summi uiri: on the north-