INTRODUCTION

The First Book of the Aeneid, unlike some of the books, has no single dominant subject. With subtle oeconomia, through many changes of tempo and tone and style, it prepares the reader for the great issues of the epic: the processes of Fate, the conflicting wills of the high gods, the responsibilities and the hardships of pietas, the impact of human passion, the imperial destiny of Rome. It moves swiftly and with mounting tension to an emotive climax, in which the presence of Dido is felt to have crucial significance. There is a confused and confusing tradition that it was not the original opening book in Virgil's plan, but followed what is now the third book.1 This might be true, in view of what we know to have been Virgil's method of composition: 'Aeneida . . . particulatim componere instituit, prout liberet quidque, et nihil in ordinem arripiens' (Donatus, uita 23). But the poet must have quickly seen how much power his epic would gain from an opening in its present form, which has resulted in a superbly satisfying prelude.

The exordium vigorously sets out the purpose of the poem. Virgil will tell of an exile from Troy, famed for his pietas, whose destiny was to found in Italy a race from which Rome would one day arise. But this Trojan would endure much tribulation through the enmity of Iuno, the protectress of Carthage, a rich and warlike city, confronting Italy across the sea: for (so she had heard) Carthage was fated to be destroyed by an imperial people of Trojan stock. So, at the outset, Virgil has linked the living history of Rome with the distant myth of Troy.2 In tantae molis

____________________
1
Donatus, uita 42; Servius, praef. p. 4 (ed. Harv.): see R. D. Williams , Aeneid 3 ( Oxford, 1962). pp. 2 f.; M. M. Crump, The Growth of the Aeneid ( Blackwell, Oxford, 1920), pp. 108 ff.
2
For the legends of Aeneas and his wanderings see Nettleship, in

-ix-

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Aeneidos Liber Primus
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Contents vii
  • Introduction ix
  • Bibliography xix
  • Note on the Text xxii
  • Aeneidos 1
  • Commentary 25
  • Index Nominvm 228
  • Index Verborvm 231
  • Index Rervm 235
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