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Content and Form

1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 Virgil’s genius manifests itself not least (some would argue: above all) in his supreme mastery of his chosen metre and, especially, in how he uses metre and formal aspects of his poetry more generally to enhance his thematic concerns. Much of Virgil’s sophistication in interrelating content and form eludes the casual reader, and even scholars in their commentaries frequently do little more than scratch the surface of what can be discovered. This is curious: unlike other aspects of Virgil’s poetry, the appreciation of formal artistry requires comparatively little prior knowledge; it is more a matter of sensibility and imagination. All you need to do is to take a good hard look at the text (which includes scanning the hexameters) and to ponder how the design reinforces theme. Just Do It! (As Nike would put it.) There is a lot to be noticed and enjoyed.

2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 To give you some idea of the returns that sustained attention to Virgil’s poetry at the formal level (metre, verse design, lexical choices, syntax) can yield, I here offer discussions of two passages, one from Book 1, the other from Book 6. They are meant as illustrations of what a close reading of Virgil’s poetry can unearth and as encouragement to subject the verses from Aeneid 4 to similar scrutiny (or, as the case may be, interpretative overkill).

3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 Aeneid 1.52–59: The Cave of the Winds

4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 0 The first scene of actual narrative in the Aeneid, which kicks in after the extensive proem (Aen. 1.1–33), features Aeneas and his men setting out from Sicily for the Italian mainland. The sight of Aeneas about to reach his destination, however, mightily displeases Juno who sees her divinity under threat if one of her adversaries were to succeed in his quest against her wishes. So she decides to interfere. Determined to sink Aeneas’ fleet, she pays a visit to Aeolia, where the wind-god Aeolus resides, ruling the storms, which are imprisoned in a cave. Virgil’s description of the ‘Cave of the Winds’ includes the following line (Aen. 1.53):

luctantis uentos tempestatesque sonoras – – | – – | – – | – – | – u u | – –

5 Leave a comment on paragraph 5 0 [The struggling winds and the noisy storms]

5 Leave a comment on paragraph 5 0 Here is Austin’s comment:[1]

6 Leave a comment on paragraph 6 0 A fine line, showing metrically and linguistically the noise and straining of the imprisoned winds:

7 Leave a comment on paragraph 7 0 the massive spondees (the maximum number possible),

8 Leave a comment on paragraph 8 0 the struggle of ictus and word-accent,[2]

9 Leave a comment on paragraph 9 0 the huge stretch of tempestatesque from the third to the fifth foot,

10 Leave a comment on paragraph 10 0 the highly charged epithet sonoras ending the line

11 Leave a comment on paragraph 11 0 —all combine to form a memorable sound-picture.

12 Leave a comment on paragraph 12 0 This is not a bad trawl of observations. But the first principle of reading Virgil holds that there is always more to see. It would indeed not be difficult to add further points:

13 Leave a comment on paragraph 13 0 (a) The first word of the line, i.e. luctantis (‘struggling’), contains a hint of enactment within itself: in the way Virgil has positioned luctantis within the verse, the word does exactly what it means: it struggles. The ‘struggling winds’ are thus a particularly striking contribution to the ‘struggle between ictus and word-accent’ spotted by Austin.

14 Leave a comment on paragraph 14 0 (b) The line is chiastic in design: attribute (luctantis) noun (uentos) noun (tempestates) attribute (sonoras).

15 Leave a comment on paragraph 15 0 (c) The opening phrase luctantis uentos contains all five vowels of the alphabet in topsy-turvy sequence: u, a, i, e, o. This enacts on the atomistic level of the individual letter the notion that the winds are forces of chaos—a point that acquires further depth if we recall the powerful reminiscences of Lucretius that Virgil has built into this passage.[3] For Lucretius operates with a conception of the universe as consisting of elementary particles; his poem De Rerum Natura correlates the construction of the world out of atoms and the construction of poetry out of letters on a grand scale.

16 Leave a comment on paragraph 16 0 But this is by no means the end of the matter. The full picture only comes into view once we consider the line as part of the larger block of verses to which it belongs. Here is Virgil’s description of the Cave of the Winds in its entirety—and how it scans (Aen. 1.52–59):

52 [Aeoliam uenit.] hic uasto rex Aeolus antro – uu | – uu | ]|[ – – | – – | – uu | – x
53 luctantis uentos tempestatesque sonoras – – | – – | – ][ – | – – | – uu | – x
54 imperio premit ac uinclis et carcere frenat. – uu | – uu | – – | – – | – uu | – x
55 illi indignantes magno cum murmure montis – – | – – | – ][ – | – – | – uu | – x
56 circum claustra fremunt; celsa sedet Aeolus arce – – | – uu | – ]|[ – | – uu | – uu | – x
57 sceptra tenens mollitque animos et temperat iras. – uu | – ][ – | – uu | – ][ – | – uu | – x
58 ni faciat, maria ac terras caelumque profundum – uu | – ][ uu | – – | – – | – uu | – x
59 quippe ferant rapidi secum uerrantque per auras. – uu | – uu | – – | – – | – uu | – x

17 Leave a comment on paragraph 17 0 Key to scanning symbols:

18 Leave a comment on paragraph 18 0 – = Syllables scanning long

19 Leave a comment on paragraph 19 0 u = Syllables scanning short

20 Leave a comment on paragraph 20 0 x = The last syllable of the hexameter, which can be either short or long (anceps)

21 Leave a comment on paragraph 21 0 | = Demarcating the six feet of the hexameter

22 Leave a comment on paragraph 22 0 ][ = Weak break in sense, whether caesura (in the middle of a foot) or diaeresis (at the end of a foot)

23 Leave a comment on paragraph 23 0 ]|[ = Strong break in sense, whether caesura (in the middle of a foot) or diaeresis (at the end of a foot)

24 Leave a comment on paragraph 24 0 Translation:

25 Leave a comment on paragraph 25 0 She [sc. Juno] came to Aeolia. Here in a vast cavern, king Aeolus keeps under his command the struggling winds and the roaring storms, and binds them with fetters and prison. They, in their anger, with mighty moans of the mountain, bluster around their enclosure. Aeolus sits in his high citadel, holding his sceptre, soothing their passions and tempering their rage. If he did not, they would surely carry off in utmost speed the seas and lands and the high heaven, and carry them through the air.

26 Leave a comment on paragraph 26 0 Virgil’s description of the cave of the wind begins after the strong diaeresis at the end of the second foot in line 52: there is a marked break between Aeoliam uenit and the subsequent excursus of interest to us here, which begins with hic in 52 and ends with auras in 59. The first thing to note is that the eight lines that partake in the description fall into four pairs of corresponding verses:

27 Leave a comment on paragraph 27 0 the second half of 52 (hic uasto rex Aeolus antro) correlates with the second half of 56 (celsa sedet Aeolus arce)

28 Leave a comment on paragraph 28 0 53 correlates with 55

29 Leave a comment on paragraph 29 0 54 correlates with 57

30 Leave a comment on paragraph 30 0 58 correlates with 59

31 Leave a comment on paragraph 31 0 This leaves only the first half of 56, i.e. circum claustra fremunt, without a counterpart. (There is a good reason for this: see below.) Let’s take a look at each of the pairs in turn:

32 Leave a comment on paragraph 32 0 (a) 52b and 56b:

33 Leave a comment on paragraph 33 0 The second half of line 52 (… uasto rex Aeolus antro) correlates with the second half of line 56 (… celsa sedet Aeolus arce) in both content and metrical design. In both lines, Aeolus appears in the same position, occupying the fifth foot of the verse by himself. Each time he is framed by an ablative phrase, with the attribute bridging the third and fourth foot (uasto, celsa) and modifying a noun in the sixth foot (arce, antro)—a correspondence enhanced by the fact that arce and antro are linked by alliteration and what could be called ‘topographical antithesis’: they relate to each other as polar opposites, housing, as they do, the contrary forces of cosmos (Aeolus on his citadel, celsa arx) and chaos (the winds in their cave, uastum antrum).

34 Leave a comment on paragraph 34 0 (b) 53 and 55:

35 Leave a comment on paragraph 35 0 luctantis uentos tempestatesque sonoras (53)

36 Leave a comment on paragraph 36 0 illi indignantes magno cum murmure montis (55)

37 Leave a comment on paragraph 37 0 Both lines scan exactly the same, with a weak caesura in the third foot (the technical term is ‘penthemimeres’):

38 Leave a comment on paragraph 38 0 – – | – – | – ][ – | – – | – uu | – x

39 Leave a comment on paragraph 39 0 This is again thematically fitting: both lines are about the same subject matter, namely the winds that strain in the cave, struggling to break free. Indeed, 55 is in many ways an elaboration on 53. Thus indignantes picks up luctantes: present participles both, luctantes describes the physical effort of the winds, whereas indignantes refers to their mindset. Virgil thereby supplies first an objective, and then a subjective, perspective on these natural forces, increasing the sense of personification and also providing a reason for why they struggle: indignantur ergo luctantur. Just as luctantes, indignantes features a clash between ictus and word accent (the ictus falling on –dig– and –tes, the accent on –nan-); and in stretching across three feet (first, second, beginning of third), an effect enhanced by elision with illi, the four syllable word recalls a similar verbal monstrosity in line 53, i.e. tempestatesque. Likewise, sonoras finds further articulation in magno cum murmure montis: both the attribute and the ablative phrase refer to the clamour caused by the winds. In all, then, line 55 is a magnificent continuation of the sound-picture initiated in line 53, especially in the combination of m-alliteration with assonance (ma-, –um, mur-, –mur-, mon-).[4]

40 Leave a comment on paragraph 40 0 (c) 54 and 57:

41 Leave a comment on paragraph 41 0 imperio premit ac vinclis et carcere frenat (54)

42 Leave a comment on paragraph 42 0 sceptra tenens mollitque animos et temperat iras (57)

43 Leave a comment on paragraph 43 0 – uu | – uu | – – | – – | – uu | – x (54)

44 Leave a comment on paragraph 44 0 – uu | – ][ – | – uu | – ][ – | – uu | – x (57)

45 Leave a comment on paragraph 45 0 While the lines do not scan exactly the same, they are still very much alike from a metrical point of view. The only differences are: (a) 54 is spondaic in the third foot, whereas 57 is spondaic in the second foot; and (b) 57 has two weak caesuras: in the second foot (after sceptra tenens) and the fourth foot (after animos).[5] In both lines, the fourth, fifth, and sixth foot scan identically, and both lines, in their mixture of dactylic and spondaic feet (3:2, not counting the anceps) contrast sharply with the pair of 53 and 55 where the correlation is distinctly different: one dactylic foot (the fifth) to four spondaic ones. This contrastive correspondence on the level of metrical design has a correspondence on the thematic level: the spondaic pair of 53 and 55 is all about the winds, building up anger and energy as they strain against their prison (hence spondees are fitting, conveying a sense of the angry straining); 54 and 57 is all about Aeolus, as he controls and calms down the winds (hence dactyls suit, conveying a sense of the resolution of the penned-up energy and anger).

46 Leave a comment on paragraph 46 0 A sense of resolution also operates in 54 and 57 on the levels of sound and syntax. The defining feature is parallelism: in 54, we get two syntactical units in which a phrase in the instrumental ablative (imperio; vinclis et carcere) is followed by the verb (premit; frenat); in 57, we get two syntactical units in which the verb (mollit; temperat) is followed by the accusative object (animos; iras). (This leaves out sceptra tenens, to which I shall return shortly: it is the cherry of the line.) In all, the parallel design underscores the activity of Aeolus, which consists in defusing the violent uproar of the storms. The vowel pattern in mollitque animos et temperat iras, i.e., o – i – a – i – o and e – e – a, – i – a, enhance the effect in their symmetry and similarity, and so does the assonance in mol-, –mos and –rat, –ras. The two lines feature complementary approaches: 54 is all about physical force and the application of violent means of restraint (premere, frenare; uincla, carcer); 57 is all about affecting the mind-set of the storms, soothing their passions and adjusting their outlook (mollire, temperare). This pair of verses thus features a shift in emphasis that corresponds to the shift from an objective (53: luctantes) to a subjective (55: indignantes) perspective on the winds.

47 Leave a comment on paragraph 47 0 More generally, line 53 finds its resolution in 54 and 55 in 57: the chiastic-spondaic straining of 53 (luctantis uentos tempestatesque sonoras) yields to parallel constructions and the dactylic release of 54: imperio premit ac uinclis et carcere frenat (two units in which an instrumental ablative is followed by a verb); and the spondaic straining of 55 (illi indignantes magno cum murmure montis) yields to the dactylic release of 57: mollitque animos et temperat iras (two units in which a verb is followed by its accusative object, thus correlating chiastically with its ‘partner-verse’ 54).[6] Moreover, the presence of the winds diminishes over the course of those five lines. In 53, the winds and storms are mentioned explicitly and come with modifying attributes (lucantis, sonoras); in 55, they are referred to with the demonstrative pronoun illi; and in 57 we only get a partial perspective of their mindset (animos) and their emotional state (iras), each without a modifier: the storms seem to lose their ferocity together with their attributes.

48 Leave a comment on paragraph 48 0 So far, we have left the opening of 57, i.e. sceptra tenens, out of consideration. To see what it is doing we need to get the entire sentence into view, beginning in the second half of 56:

49 Leave a comment on paragraph 49 0 … celsa sedet Aeolus arce (56)

50 Leave a comment on paragraph 50 0 sceptra tenens mollitque animos et temperat iras. (57)

51 Leave a comment on paragraph 51 0 The sentence consists of a tricolon: sedet, mollit (the –que after mollit links sedet and mollit) and temperat. The initial colon, from celsa to tenens, clearly stands apart in sense and syntax from the second and third (which are by and large identical in design). Yet overall it has the same arrangement of verb followed by noun (or here nouns: the subject Aeolus and the ablative of place arce) as mollitque animos et temperat iras. But it also contains the participle phrase sceptra tenens, which inverts this pattern: here we get the noun (the accusative object sceptra) first and the verb second (the present participle tenens). In terms of syntactic order, sceptra tenens is thus set apart from the rest of the sentence, an effect enhanced by the metre: sceptra tenens forms a metrical unit all its own, a so-called choriambus (– u u –). Significantly, the other line in the pair (i.e. 54) opens with a word, imperio, that by itself also scans as a choriambus: im– is long by position, –per– and –i– are short, and the final –o is again long. By metrical design Virgil thus suggests an affinity between imperio and sceptra tenens. This is again borne out on the thematic level: the word imperio (an ablative of means or instrument: ‘by his power of command’) and the phrase sceptra tenens (‘holding the sceptre’, as the symbol of his power of command) are virtual synonyms of one another.

52 Leave a comment on paragraph 52 0 Virtual, but not precise synonyms: for imperium is just as quintessentially Roman as sceptra is quintessentially Greek. Imperium, from which the English ‘empire’ derives, initially signified the right and power of the Roman magistrate to issue orders and to enforce obedience (during the late republic and early principate it then acquired the geographical meaning of empire, i.e. the region over which Rome exercised the right and power of command). The imperium wielded by the high magistrate of the res publica in the field epitomizes the Roman politics of power. The term notably recurs in the famous ‘mission statement’ in Aeneid 6.851–53 (Anchises speaking to his son, but here addressing his son’s ‘race’, the Romans, in their entirety):

53 Leave a comment on paragraph 53 0 tu regere imperio populos, Romane, memento
(hae tibi erunt artes), pacique imponere morem,
parcere subiectis et debellare superbos.

54 Leave a comment on paragraph 54 0 [you, Roman, be mindful to rule the peoples with the power to command (these shall be your arts), to impose traditional order upon peace, to spare the vanquished, and to war down the proud.]

54 Leave a comment on paragraph 54 0 In contrast, sceptra is a loanword in Latin, deriving from the Greek skêptron. Virgil seems to have been the first Latin poet to use it. The most famous sceptre in all of Greek literature is the sceptre of Agamemnon in Homer’s Iliad, which can boast of an exceedingly illustrious pedigree provided by Homer himself when he mentions the sceptre for the first time: Hephaestus wrought the sceptre for Zeus, but Zeus passed it on to Hermes (Mercurius in Latin), Hermes to Pelops, Pelops to Atreus, Atreus to Thyestes, and Thyestes to Agamemnon (Iliad 2.100–09). It is surely the sceptre of Zeus that Virgil wishes to evoke, especially since Aeolus was put in charge of the winds by Jupiter: see 1.60–63, cited below. One may note in passing that the Homeric-Odyssean counterpart of Virgil’s Aeolus, while also being put in charge of the winds by Zeus, does not wield a sceptre at all: see Odyssey 10.1–27. In all, then, Virgil associates Aeolus with the exercise of power, drawing on both Greek and Roman concepts, symbols, and traditions of rule.

55 Leave a comment on paragraph 55 0 (d) 58 and 59

56 Leave a comment on paragraph 56 0 ni faciat, maria ac terras caelumque profundum

57 Leave a comment on paragraph 57 0 quippe ferant rapidi secum uerrantque per auras.

58 Leave a comment on paragraph 58 0 – uu | – ][ uu | – – | – – | – uu | – x

59 Leave a comment on paragraph 59 0 – uu | – uu | – – | – – | – uu | – x

60 Leave a comment on paragraph 60 0 With the three previous pairings (52 ~ 56; 53 ~ 55; 54 ~ 57) at least one line from another pair intervened. With the two concluding lines Virgil discontinues this pattern, not least to achieve a sense of closure. There are two further changes: a switch from indicative to subjunctive; and the first instance of hypotaxis in the passage, the conditional sequence introduced by ni. Aeolus’ presence in these two concluding verses is reduced to the opening two words ni faciat; but the protasis exercises control over the magnificent apodosis that follows. Metre again enhances theme: ni faciat is a choriambus, and thus recalls imperio in 54 and sceptra tenens in 57: indeed ni faciat refers to the exercise of the power he wields, which finds (symbolic) articulation in his imperium and his holding of the sceptre. After the trithemimeres it is all over to the winds who are counterfactually imagined to sweep chaotically through the cosmos the way they sweep through the two lines: without break.

61 Leave a comment on paragraph 61 0 After this detailed analysis of the four line-pairings, we can now put the entire passage back together and see how the individual components work as a whole. What should already be self-evident is that the prevailing theme of the passage consists in the uneasy relation between Aeolus, the ruler of the winds, and the winds, his unruly subjects. Here are the verses again, with those parts highlighted in bold that concern Aeolus and those in italics that concern the winds:

62 Leave a comment on paragraph 62 0 hic uasto rex Aeolus antro 52

63 Leave a comment on paragraph 63 0 luctantis uentos tempestatesque sonoras 53

64 Leave a comment on paragraph 64 0 imperio premit ac uinclis et carcere frenat. 54

65 Leave a comment on paragraph 65 0 illi indignantes magno cum murmure montis 55

66 Leave a comment on paragraph 66 0 circum claustra fremunt; celsa sedet Aeolus arce 56

67 Leave a comment on paragraph 67 0 sceptra tenens mollitque animos et temperat iras. 57

68 Leave a comment on paragraph 68 0 ni faciat, maria ac terras caelumque profundum 58

69 Leave a comment on paragraph 69 0 quippe ferant rapidi secum uerrantque per auras 59

70 Leave a comment on paragraph 70 0 sed pater omnipotens… 60

71 Leave a comment on paragraph 71 0 In quantitative terms, the distribution of verse-time given to Aeolus and the winds is fairly balanced. 53 is entirely devoted to the winds, 54 entirely to Aeolus; one-and-a-half verses devoted to the winds follow (55–56a), followed by one-and-a-half verses devoted to showing Aeolus forcing the winds into submission (56b–57). The final two lines, however, are almost entirely given over to the winds—but they describe a counterfactual scenario. Overall Aeolus does come out on top, but he is almost blown away. He gets additional attention in line 52, which also functions as the keynote, and this ensures that Aeolus dominates both the beginning and the end of the first six lines dedicated to description, in a structural enactment of the relationship that applies between him and the winds: he sits on top and controls the end, whereas the winds are imprisoned in the middle. The overall architecture of this block of verses (and the metaphor from the sphere of the visual arts seems entirely appropriate here) thus reflects the fetters (vincla) and the cave (antrum) that function as prison (carcer) of the winds, giving special prominence to who is in charge.

72 Leave a comment on paragraph 72 0 This structural enactment finds further amplification if we expand our analysis beyond purely quantitative considerations and bring considerations of quality into play. For while the winds get almost as much verse-time as Aeolus, that does not mean that they are his equals in terms of grammar and syntax. On the contrary: while Aeolus, when present, is present only in the subject position, the position of the winds alternates: initially, they are objects (53); then they become subjects (55–56b); but ultimately end up as objects again (57). Extrapolated, this distribution of subject and object positions assumed by Aeolus and the winds looks as follows:

73 Leave a comment on paragraph 73 0 52b: Aeolus (subject)

74 Leave a comment on paragraph 74 0 53: The winds (direct object)

75 Leave a comment on paragraph 75 0 54: Aeolus (subject)

76 Leave a comment on paragraph 76 0 55: The winds (subject)

77 Leave a comment on paragraph 77 0 56: The winds (subject) and Aeolus (subject)

78 Leave a comment on paragraph 78 0 57: Aeolus (subject) and the winds (direct object)

79 Leave a comment on paragraph 79 0 58: Aeolus (subject of ni-clause) and the winds (subject of main clause)

80 Leave a comment on paragraph 80 0 59: The winds (continuing subject of main clause)

81 Leave a comment on paragraph 81 0 Presented like this, the most interesting line is 56. Here, exceptionally, both the winds and Aeolus feature as subjects of a main clause: Virgil stages a moment of struggle in which the winds and Aeolus clash head-on. Two formal features reinforce the confrontation: as you will recall, the first half of 56 (circum claustra fremunt) is the only portion of the entire passage that is not tied into a correlation: it stands out and apart, unfettered if you will, and this is exactly the location in the overall design where the winds assert themselves most forcefully in their quest for freedom. And right after fremunt, we get the only truly strong caesura in the entire passage—Virgil, in other words, has inserted the most dramatic break at the metrical level at the most dramatic moment: will the winds break out, one is forced to ponder during the milli-second of suspense generated by the powerful penthemimeres, before one reads on and receives reassurance that Aeolus continues to succeed in holding the winds in check, suppressing the uproar, calming down the destructive emotions, and, in general, returning the winds from agents of their own to the status of (accusative) objects.

82 Leave a comment on paragraph 82 0 Still, those one-and-a-half lines of syntactical empowerment that Virgil grants the winds (as well as the level of attention they receive, which is almost equal to that of Aeolus) is typical of the Aeneid more generally and Virgil’s other poetry as well. He here offers a vignette of a pattern that shapes and recurs throughout the entire narrative, with a force of chaos challenging and threatening to overpower—always almost but never quite succeeding—a force of cosmos. Aeolus and the winds thus have counterparts in Jupiter and Juno, Aeneas and Dido, Aeneas and Turnus, Hercules and Cacus, or Apollo and the monstrous Egyptian divinities as well as Octavian and Cleopatra as depicted on the shield of Aeneas in Book 8. Virgil operates with a typological view of the world that has affinities with Manichean thought or the Chinese concept of yin and yang—though one should avoid oversimplification: the description of the cave of the winds precedes the successful bullying with bribery of Aeolus by Juno, who induces the wind-warden to unleash his charges from their prison to wreak havoc on Aeneas and his fleet.[7]

83 Leave a comment on paragraph 83 0 Still, in the end, cosmos comes out on top (this time). But make no mistake: those winds are powerful and their control requires constant effort and vigilance. Again, Virgil’s syntax enacts both aspects. The power of the winds rattles the mountain, which manifests itself in the ambiguity of reference: the genitive montis at the end of line 55 could go either with magno cum murmure in 55 or circum claustra in 56. It is perhaps best construed as belonging to both, a position of apo koinou that hints at the way the mountain groans and rattles under the impact of the straining winds enclosed therein. As for the effort: lines 52–57 contain one finite verb of which the winds are subject: fremunt (56). In contrast, Aeolus is the subject of five finite verbs: premit (54), frenat (54), sedet (56), mollit (57), temperat (57): keeping those winds in check takes some doing![8] And our final image, if in a hypothetical scenario, is of the winds returning the cosmos to chaos. Ultimately, what keeps them in check is not Aeolus at all, a minor divinity of the pantheon: it is Jupiter himself, the omnipotent divinity to rule them all and bind them all. And so the subsequent four verses are dedicated to his overlordship (Aen. 1.60–63):

84 Leave a comment on paragraph 84 0 sed pater omnipotens speluncis abdidit atris,
hoc metuens, molemque et montis insuper altos
imposuit regemque dedit, qui foedere certo
et premere et laxas sciret dare iussus habenas.

85 Leave a comment on paragraph 85 0 [But the omnipotent father hid them in dark caves, fearful of this, and piled high mountains on top of them and established a king who, under fixed contract, knew how to tighten and let loose the reins at command.]

85 Leave a comment on paragraph 85 0 The Cave of the Winds thus emblematically encapsulates the poetic vision (and the poetics) that informs the Aeneid as a whole. In Virgil’s literary cosmos the forces of chaos constantly lurk under the surface and strive to assert themselves, frequently succeed in doing so, but are ultimately forced into submission again in indignant defeat. Indeed, a striking lexical reminiscence links the cave of the winds to the very last line of the epic. The portrayal of the winds as indignantes subtly prefigures the death of Turnus at 12.951–52:

86 Leave a comment on paragraph 86 0 ast illi soluuntur frigore membra

87 Leave a comment on paragraph 87 0 uitaque cum gemitu fugit indignata sub umbras.

88 Leave a comment on paragraph 88 0 The last line scans – uu | – uu | – uu | – – | – uu | – –, with the spondaic fourth foot (indig-, with the word continuing with a third long syllable –na-) enacting the momentary struggle of Turnus to cling to life before he breathes his last. But whereas in indignantes the clash between ictus (-dig-, –tes) and word-accent (-nan-) is absolute, the same is not the case with indignata: true, the ictus on in– is out of line with the accent, but in the case of –na– ictus and word-accent mercifully coincide. The energy of the epic is finally spent—though very little is truly resolved.

89 Leave a comment on paragraph 89 0 Aeneid 6.5–12:
The leader and the led, or Aeneas and his men at Cumae
[9]

90 Leave a comment on paragraph 90 0 Aeneid 6 opens with the arrival of the Trojan fleet on the Italian shore, in the vicinity of Cumae, a Greek settlement to the northwest of Naples, famous for its legendary oracle. At this point Aeneas and his crew part company. Virgil first lingers on the crew (A. 6.5–8):

91 Leave a comment on paragraph 91 0 iuuenum manus emicat ardens

92 Leave a comment on paragraph 92 0 litus in Hesperium; quaerit pars semina flammae

93 Leave a comment on paragraph 93 0 abstrusa in uenis silicis, pars densa ferarum

94 Leave a comment on paragraph 94 0 tecta rapit siluas inuentaque flumina monstrat.

95 Leave a comment on paragraph 95 0 [The band of young men darts eagerly onto the Hesperian shore; some seek the seeds of fire hidden in veins of flint; some ravish the woods, the thick homes of wild beasts, and point out newly-discovered streams.]

95 Leave a comment on paragraph 95 0 The lines invoke a charming scene of buzzing excitement: the young men jump onto the land, fetch wood and water, light fires and marvel at the landscape. Note how Virgil breaks down the crowd:

96 Leave a comment on paragraph 96 0 (a) we first get the collective: iuuenum manus emicat

97 Leave a comment on paragraph 97 0 (b) this manus is broken down into two parts: parspars

98 Leave a comment on paragraph 98 0 (c) but Virgil uses a tricolon to describe the activities of the two partes: quaerit parspars rapit (et) monstrat (the design between the first and the second and third colon is chiastic: verb—subject : subject—verb(s).

99 Leave a comment on paragraph 99 0 The emphasis is on proliferation and differentiation of groups of individuals who remain entirely faceless. The activities the men engage in are utterly banal, concerning the basic needs of daily life. The quotidian and unremarkable efforts have their counterpart in the indeterminate geography: the woods and rivers that form the backdrop to their doings remain unnamed. Virgil has chosen plain paratactic syntax to describe their hustle: emicatquaeritrapitmonstrat. What is almost entirely absent from these lines is alliteration. This makes sense: alliteration links words and phrases and underscores thematic coherence by means of stylistic coherence. But Aeneas’ crew-members are all over the place as they rove through the landscape and chatter excitedly. In this light, his use of recherché images to describe the objects of their attention resonates with good-humoured irony:

100 Leave a comment on paragraph 100 0 (a) semina flammae abstrusa in uenis silicis

101 Leave a comment on paragraph 101 0 (b) densa ferarum tecta, siluas

102 Leave a comment on paragraph 102 0 The phrase inuentaque flumina monstrat brings the excitement to a close by means of a descending number of syllables 4 (inuentaque), 3 (flumina), 2 (siluas).[10] The note of closure sets the scene for a switch in focus (A. 6.9-12):

103 Leave a comment on paragraph 103 0 at pius Aeneas arces quibus altus Apollo
praesidet horrendaeque procul secreta Sibyllae,
antrum immane, petit, magnam cui mentem animumque
Delius inspirat uates aperitque futura.

104 Leave a comment on paragraph 104 0 [But faithful Aeneas heads for the citadel over which high Apollo presides and the distant and secluded recess—a vast cave—of the dread Sibyl, into whom the Delian seer breathes an enlarged mind and soul and reveals the future.]

104 Leave a comment on paragraph 104 0 The opening at sets up a contrast between these four lines and the previous ones that operates on several levels. To begin with, there is the distinction between Aeneas in the resplendent glory of his epic epithet pius and his faceless men. While they collectively go on a random ramble through the indistinct landscape of Italy, taking care of subsistence with practical skills, Aeneas’ movements are oriented towards a higher goal. With purpose he seeks out (petit) a specific location of supreme religious import, the cave of the Sibyl at Cumae. Later on in the text it becomes clear that Aeneas is not alone in his quest, but Virgil for the time being chooses to suppress his entourage.[11] What we get is (regal) power in search of (divine) knowledge.

105 Leave a comment on paragraph 105 0 Virgil underscores the distinction between the leader and the led through a variety of stylistic devices. The horizontal topography mapped out in the previous lines yields to vertical imagery that functions both on the literal and the metaphorical level. Terms such as arces, altus, praesidet and antrum suggest, not unlike the Cave of the Winds, which also features the contrast of arx and antrum, a natural architecture that stretches from the top to the bottom of the universe. This architecture finds its social correlative in hierarchies of power, especially the power Apollo wields over the Sibyl. In terms of syntax, there is a switch from parataxis to hypotaxis. In contrast to the sequence of four main verbs used of the crew, Virgil uses only one verb with reference to Aeneas—petit—perfectly suited to convey a clear sense of purpose and direction; yet this main clause is embedded within a hypotactic environment. The plain subject—object formations Virgil used of the crew give way to an elaborate construction dominated by two subordinate clauses that specify complex relationships of domination as well as the existence of something above ordinary human experience: the cave of the Sibyl belongs into the world of the gods. a– and –p-alliteration (Aeneas, arces, altus, Apollo, antrum; pius, praesidet, procul, petit) as well as m– and n-assonance (antrum, immane, magnam, mentem, animum) reinforce the thematic concerns on the acoustic level.

106 Leave a comment on paragraph 106 0 In all, the design of the verses devoted to Aeneas reinforces issues of power and knowledge, hierarchy and order, participation in divine wisdom and orientation in time and space—the building blocks, in short, of a political theology in which two figures assume positions of special prominence: the king, a privileged representative of his community; and the prophet, who functions as intermediary between the human and the divine sphere. The characters who take up these positions in the poem, namely Aeneas and the Sibyl, have counterparts outside the text: Augustus and Virgil.

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108 Leave a comment on paragraph 108 0 [1]
Austin (1971), p. 44, layout adjusted.

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110 Leave a comment on paragraph 110 0 [2]
Let me spell this out: in luctantis, the ictus falls on luc– and –tis, the word-accent on –tan-; in uentos, the ictus falls on –tos, the word accent on ven-; in tempestatesque, the ictus falls on –pest– and –tes-, the word-accent on –tat-; in sonoras ictus and word-accent coincide on –nor-.

111 Leave a comment on paragraph 111 0  

114 Leave a comment on paragraph 114 0 [4]
The alliterative patterning starts with illi indignantes and continues in the following line (56) with circum claustra.

115 Leave a comment on paragraph 115 0  

116 Leave a comment on paragraph 116 0 [5]
One could posit a (very) weak diaeresis in 54 after premit.

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118 Leave a comment on paragraph 118 0 [6]
The gender of the two nouns animos (masculine) and iras (feminine), moreover, mirrors the gender of the nouns in 53, i.e. uentos (masculine) and tempestates (feminine).

119 Leave a comment on paragraph 119 0  

120 Leave a comment on paragraph 120 0 [7]
The classic study of Virgil’s cosmos is Hardie (1986). See also Quint (1993).

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122 Leave a comment on paragraph 122 0 [8]
The winds have the upper hand in terms of participles: luctantis (53) and indignantes (55) versus tenens (58). The three participles are linked by assonance: –tan-, –tis, –nan-, –tes, te-, –nens.

123 Leave a comment on paragraph 123 0  

124 Leave a comment on paragraph 124 0 [9]
The following is based on Gildenhard (2007), pp. 89–91.

125 Leave a comment on paragraph 125 0  

126 Leave a comment on paragraph 126 0 [10]
For the same somnorific design see 4.81 discussed above.

127 Leave a comment on paragraph 127 0  

128 Leave a comment on paragraph 128 0 [11]
Aeneas’ companions suddenly enter the picture at 6.34 when the verb switches to plural, at which point we also learn that the hero had sent Achates ahead of him to announce his arrival to the Sibyl: praemissus Achates (34).

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Source: http://aeneid4.theclassicslibrary.com/2012/11/30/141/