Virgil's Aeneid: Semantic Relations and Proper Names

By Michael Paschalis | Go to book overview

BOOK 3

I. OVERVIEW

1. Thrace: curuum litus and tumulus (13-71)

a. From Πολúὁωρος to *Πολúὁορος: the fatal distortion of a name

When Aeneas arrives in Thrace he sets about founding a city ('moenia') on the curved shore ('litore curuo'); in order to ensure the goodwill of his mother (' Dionaeae matri'1) and the other gods for the task he has undertaken, he engages in the prescribed rites and the sacrifice of a bull. Nearby there is a 'tumulus', on top of which grow cornel bushes ('cornea . . . uirgulta') and myrtles with bristling, spearlike shoots ('densis hastilibus horrida myrtus'). The hero attempts to tear up some shoots in order to wreathe the altars, but drops of blood ooze from the broken roots and stain the earth with gore; as he tries to pluck another shoot, again blood comes out of its bark. After praying to the woodland nymphs and 'Gradiuus'2 he makes a third attempt; this time a groan is heard from the depths of the 'tumulus' and the voice of Polydorus tells him that the shoots have grown out of the spears which transfixed his body ('hic confixum ferrea texit | telorum seges et iaculis increuit acutis').

Next, Aeneas gives the full story of Polydorus in his own voice. When Troy was in grave peril Priam secretly sent his youngest son Polydorus to the Thracian king (Polymestor is meant) with a great quantity of gold. When Troy fell to the Greeks the king sided with them, killed the youth, and took possession of the gold. After performing funeral rites for Polydorus, the Trojans sail out under a fair wind.

The components of the Aeneas-'tumulus' sequence create the semantic environment of the Laocoon-Horse sequence. The 'curuum litus' and the 'tumulus' combine Curve and Mound; the

____________________
1
The cluster "moenia prima . . . ingressus . . . Dionaeae . . . coeptorum" (17-20) links the segment -naeae with νέος ('new').
2
'Gradiuus' was etymologized 'a gradiendo in bella' (P-F 86. 15); the etymology is suggested by Aeneas' 'struggle' ('obluctor') with the shoots. Compare "Gradiuumque . . . adgredior" with 10. 540-2 'congressus . . . Gradiue'; and "Gradiuumque . . . nisu . . . adgredior . . . obluctor" with 12. 386-7 'nitentem . . . gressus . . . luctatur'.

-111-

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Virgil's Aeneid: Semantic Relations and Proper Names
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Contents ix
  • Abbreviations and Bibliographical Note xv
  • Note on Structure and Conventions xvii
  • Introduction 1
  • Book 1 34
  • Book 2 70
  • Book 3 111
  • Book 4 149
  • Book 5 181
  • Book 6 209
  • Book 7 244
  • Book 8 275
  • Book 9 302
  • Book 10 330
  • Book 11 358
  • Book 12 380
  • Conclusion 409
  • References 419
  • Index of Selected Names and Words Discussed 431
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