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238–258: Mercury Descending

1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 167.     Why is the tense of parabat (238–39: ille patris magni parere parabat/ imperio) funny?

2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 168.     Compare Mercury’s preparations for departure and subsequent descent at 4.239–58 with Homer’s description of Mercury’s Greek alter ego Hermes at Odyssey 5.43–54:

3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 So he spoke, and the messenger, the slayer of Argus, did not disobey. Straightway he bound beneath his feet his beautiful sandals, immortal, golden, which were wont to bear him over the waters of the sea and over the boundless earth together with the breeze of the wind. And he took the wand wherewith he lulls to sleep the eyes of whom he wishes, while others again he awakens out of slumber. With this in hand the strong slayer of Argus flew. On to Pieria he stepped from the upper air, and swooped down upon the sea, and then sped over the wave like a bird, the cormorant, which in quest of fish over the dread gulfs of the unresting sea wets its thick plumage in the brine. In such fashion did Hermes ride over the multitudinous waves.

4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 0 169.     Identify the parallels between the situation of Aeneas in Carthage in Aeneid 4 and that of Odysseus on Ogygia in Odyssey 5 and consider the Dido episode against the Homeric model: what are the similarities, what the differences?

5 Leave a comment on paragraph 5 0 170.     What type of ablative is Orco (242)?

6 Leave a comment on paragraph 6 0 171.     What does et lumina morte resignat (244) mean and refer to?

7 Leave a comment on paragraph 7 0 172.     246–51: is Atlas a man or a mountain?

8 Leave a comment on paragraph 8 0 173.     Austin does not much like the verses 248–51: ‘This description of Atlas (perhaps based on a painting) has power, but is out of place here, and the narrative would run better if it went straight on from 247 to 252. … The repetition of Atlantis gives a curious prominence to the name, which does not seem to need such a stressing; and the similar rhythm of 248, 249, and 251 is noticeably monotonous (249 and 251 are identical, and in each the third-foot caesura is blurred by the monosyllable et, so that the effective caesura is in the fourth foot, as in 248)’.[1] Do you agree with Austin? Do you think that Virgil may have deleted the lines during a final revision? Can you think of arguments that would rehabilitate the lines as perfectly suited to their context—and to be kept at all costs?

9 Leave a comment on paragraph 9 0 174.     Why does the –e– in Cyllenius(252) scan long?

10 Leave a comment on paragraph 10 0  


11 Leave a comment on paragraph 11 0 [1]
Austin (1963), p. 87.

Source: http://aeneid4.theclassicslibrary.com/2012/11/29/238-258%E2%80%82mercury-descending/