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Avant Propos: The Set Text and the Aeneid

1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 1.         Would you start reading a novel with Chapter 4? To what extent, do you think, will your understanding and appreciation of the set text be compromised if you do not read the first three books (in English) first? (As Henderson puts it: ‘Everyone should ask how come they’re starting with Chapter 4 of a book, who’s doing what to them this way…’)[1]

2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 2.         How does 4.1–299 fit into the epic as a whole? Explore, in particular, connections between Books 1 and 4. But you may also wish to consider how the ‘internal narrative’ in Aeneid 2 and 3, in which Aeneas recounts the fall of Troy (Book 2) and his subsequent travels (Book 3) to his Carthaginian hosts (in particular Dido) resonates in, and impacts on, the events that unfold in Aeneid 4. Dido continues to haunt the narrative even after her suicide: where in the poem does she reappear or make her presence felt?

3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 3.         Shortly before being washed ashore in Libya, Aeneas lost his father Anchises. (See his lament at 3.708–15, the last major event in the story of his adventures he recounts to Dido.) Can what happens between Dido and Aeneas in Book 4 be attributed to the hero’s recent loss of parental guidance?

4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 0 4.         What are the similarities, what the differences in the biographies of Dido and Aeneas before they meet each other? (Venus tells Aeneas/us about Dido’s history—or rather ‘her-story’—at 1.335–70.) In what ways do Dido and Aeneas form a ‘complementary couple’?

5 Leave a comment on paragraph 5 0  


6 Leave a comment on paragraph 6 0 [1]
Cf. Henderson (2006), p. 13, n. 19, on Austin writing his Aeneid 1 commentary after his Aeneid 4 commentary: ‘Aeneid I as “reprise” of Aeneid IV is a piquant trajectory—one followed by many a student/Latinist, for IV has been excerpted as the text set for early examination syllabuses so regularly that it always already does come first.’

Source: http://aeneid4.theclassicslibrary.com/2012/11/29/avant-propos-the-set-text-and-the-aeneid/