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173–197: The News Goes Viral

1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 173–77: Introduction to Fama (5 lines)

2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 178–83: Parentage and appearance (6 lines)

3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 184–88: Generic description of her movements (5 lines)

4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 0 189–95: The rumours she spreads of Aeneas and Dido (7 lines)

5 Leave a comment on paragraph 5 0 196–97: Pinpointing a specific target: Iarbas (2 lines)

6 Leave a comment on paragraph 6 0 The term fama has already made an oblique appearance at 170 (neque enim specie famaue mouetur, sc. Dido). Now Fama, as goddess, enters the epic for good. Even after her first intervention, she remains a latent presence, not least at the end of Iarbas’ prayer to Jupiter (if unanswered, he implies, Jupiter is nothing more than an idle rumour, a fama inanis: 218) and in the form of the fama melior of 222 that Aeneas and Dido have become oblivious to. In Dido’s case, it would seem to refer to her unblemished reputation that she needs for effective civic leadership; in his case it refers, as Jupiter’s subsequent address to Mercury makes clear, to the future gloria that comes with the founding of Rome and the Roman people (see 232: … tantarum gloria rerum). Personified Fama then reappears: in reporting news of Aeneas’ intention to leave, she triggers the same reaction in Dido as she triggered in Iarbas when she reported that Dido and Aeneas are staying together (4.298–300: eadem impia Fama…). She makes two further interventions later in Book 4: at 556–59, she takes delight in bringing news of Aeneas’ impending departure to Dido in a dream appearance; and at 666 she glories in spreading news of Dido’s suicide through the stricken city.

7 Leave a comment on paragraph 7 0 There are some precedents for this figure. Two are particularly noteworthy: Iliad 4.439–43, where Strife (Eris) grows from small beginnings until her head reaches heaven; and Hesiod, Works & Days 760–64, where Rumour is explicitly identified as a pernicious goddess.[1]

8 Leave a comment on paragraph 8 0 Homer, Iliad 4.439–43:

9 Leave a comment on paragraph 9 0 ὦρσε δὲ τοὺς µὲν Ἄρης, τοὺς δὲ γλαυκῶπις Ἀθήνη
Δεῖµός τ’ ἠδὲ Φόβος καὶ Ἔρις ἄµοτον µεµαυῖα,
Ἄρεος ἀνδροφόνοιο κασιγνήτη ἑτάρη τε,
ἥ τ’ ὀλίγη µὲν πρῶτα κορύσσεται, αὐτὰρ ἔπειτα
οὐρανῷ ἐστήριξε κάρη καὶ ἐπὶ χθονὶ βαίνει

10 Leave a comment on paragraph 10 0 [The Trojans were urged on by Ares, and the Greeks by flashing-eyed Athene, and Terror, and Rout, and Discord that rages incessantly, sister and comrade of man-slaying Ares; she at first rears her crest only a little, yet thereafter plants her head in heaven, while her feet tread on the earth.]

10 Leave a comment on paragraph 10 0 Hesiod, Works & Days 760–64:

11 Leave a comment on paragraph 11 0 ὧδ’ ἔρδειν• δεινὴν δὲ βροτῶν ὑπαλεύεο φήµην
φήµη γάρ τε κακὴ πέλεται κούφη µὲν ἀεῖραι
ῥεῖα µάλ’, ἀργαλέη δὲ φέρειν, χαλεπὴ δ’ ἀποθέσθαι.
φήµη δ’ οὔ τις πάµπαν ἀπόλλυται, ἥντινα πολλοὶ
λαοὶ φηµίξουσι• θεός νύ τίς ἐστι καὶ αὐτή.

12 Leave a comment on paragraph 12 0 [Act this way. Avoid the wretched talk of mortals. For talk is evil: it is light to raise up quite easily, but it is difficult to bear, and hard to put down. No talk is ever entirely gotten rid of, once many people talk it up: it too is some god.]

12 Leave a comment on paragraph 12 0 Yet despite these parallels in earlier literature, the entry of Fama into Virgil’s narrative comes as a surprise: ‘For the modern reader Fama seems to spring from the poet’s head as the first circumstantially elaborated personification set to work within the action of a human narrative.’[2] She is a fascinating figure in her own right, as the personification of a phenomenon we are all familiar with, that is, rumour and gossip, often malicious: in that sense Fama is, as it were, Virgil’s equivalent of the modern tabloids, not least in how she delights in (illicit) sex, scandal, and sensation.[3] But there is another, ‘metapoetic’ side to her: besides her activities on the level of plot within Virgil’s epic world, she has also strong affinities with the poet of the Aeneid (hence ‘meta-poetic’), who is trying to spread his ‘epic news’ far and wide. Philip Hardie magisterially sums up the double nature of our goddess, also bringing out the gender-angle to her function and portrayal: ‘The personification of Fama in Book 4 of the Aeneid (173–97) is a Hellish female monster, the embodiment of the unattributable and irresponsible voices of the multitude, the many-headed beast, who thrives on distortion and defamation, as she spreads a malicious version of the behaviour of Dido and Aeneas. At the same time Fama is a figure for the ambitions of the male epic poet and for the fame that he confers on his subject-matter and on himself.’[4]

13 Leave a comment on paragraph 13 0 173–174: Extemplo Libyae magnas it Fama per urbes,/ Fama, malum qua non aliud uelocius ullum: Libyae magnas it Fama per urbes is another instance of iconic word order: subject (Fama) and verb (it) are placed right in the middle of the phrase that refers to the sites through which Fama moves, an effect reinforced by the ensuing hyperbaton Libyae magnas…urbes. Note the epanalepsis (‘taking up again, repetition’) of Fama, which is strictly speaking unnecessary from the point of view of syntax, but generates a great rhetorical effect.[5] The relative pronoun qua is in the ablative of comparison (dependent on uelocius); the antecedent is Fama; the verb (sc. est) is elided. Virgil’s identification of Fama as a malum no doubt recalls the malorum of line 169.

14 Leave a comment on paragraph 14 0 175–177: mobilitate uiget uirisque adquirit eundo,/ parua metu primo, mox sese attollit in auras/ ingrediturque solo et caput inter nubila condit: The three lines portray the exponential growth of a rumour, which gains in power as it is spreading. The basis of Fama’s strength is hence her mobility, which Virgil states as a matter of principle (mobilitate uiget) before glossing it further (uirisque adquirit eundo). (uiris is the accusative plural of uis and forms an alliterative figura etymologica with uiget.) After this ‘theoretical’ perspective, he goes on to illustrate the phenomenon with a striking image: from small beginnings (cf. parua), Fama soon takes flight and eventually stretches from earth to heaven.

15 Leave a comment on paragraph 15 0 [Extra information: Hardie points out that Virgil has modelled his portrayal of Fama in part on Lucretius’ description of the thunderbolt: ‘Fama is introduced as an agent in motion through the world of human society (173: magnas … per urbes). But in the manner of her motion she allusively embodies a force in the natural world, the Lucretian thunderbolt: with lines 174–5 compare [Lucretius’] De Rerum Natura 6.177 (wind in clouds creating thunderbolt) mobilitate sua feruescit ‘it grows hot through its own motion’, 340–2 (thunderbolt) denique quod longo uenit impete, sumere debet | mobilitatem etiam atque etiam, quae crescit eundo | et ualidas auget uiris et roborat ictum ‘then too as it advances with a long-continued moving power, it must again and again receive new velocity, which increases as it goes on and augments its powerful might and strengthens its stroke.’[6] He sums up: ‘Allusively [i.e. if we read Virgil’s Fama-passage with Lucretius’ thunderbolt-passages in mind] Fama is a natural force, translated to the theatre of human actions and words.’ This raises the question: why does Virgil cast his character as ‘thunderbolt-Fama’? What are the affinities, what the differences between Virgil’s Fama and Lucretius’ thunderbolt? Why does he model his divine force on a natural force? (Lucretius, it is worth recalling, writes a poem that explains the world by way of Epicurean physics, i.e. atomic motions. He programmatically eliminates any possibility of divine intervention in human affairs.) Is it meaningful that Lucretius’ thunderbolt flashes from Heaven to Earth, whereas Fama moves from Earth to Heaven?]

15 Leave a comment on paragraph 15 0 176: parua metu primo: fear is a quality that Virgil associates with Fama throughout the passage. But there is a curious reversal: to begin with (primo: perhaps best taken adverbially), Fama is small because of fear, but as she grows she starts to terrify: see esp. 187: et magnas territat urbes. But why should Virgil foreground fear, either that of Fama herself or that caused by her? The dynamics that enable her success and sway are perhaps not dissimilar to what animates Freddy Krueger, the child murderer from Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street, who, though dead, comes to haunt those who give credence to his continued existence, by which he transforms from a nightmare into a reality. Likewise with Fama: in terms of physique, she is a repulsive monster; but her frightening powers gain in force only by people engaging with her—by perpetuating what they hear and believing what she says. Or, as John Henderson has it (per litteras), ‘Fama is just like any lively classroom/ supervision/ seminar discussing the Aeneid.’

16 Leave a comment on paragraph 16 0 A further consideration is the continuing relevance of the Lucretian intertext: as Philip Hardie has pointed out, Fama in Virgil corresponds to Religio in Lucretius; and the prime function of religio, according to Lucretius, is the generation of (unjustified) fear of the gods: ‘Religio and fama go together, DRN [sc. Lucretius’ De Rerum Natura] 1.68–9 (Religio’s weapons of terror) quem neque fama deum nec fulmina nec minitanti | murmure compressit caelum ‘he [sc. Epicurus] was quelled neither by stories about the gods, nor by thunderbolts, nor by the heaven with its threatening rumble.’[7] In general, Virgil ‘re-mythologizes’ Lucretius’ mechanical universe, which is devoid of meaningful religious agency: according to the philosophy of Epicurus, which Lucretius professes, the gods live carefree lives in so-called ‘intermundia’, i.e. ‘between worlds’, and take no interest in human affairs. Fama is an extreme case: Virgil not only revalidates divine agency as an important factor in the human sphere, but even turns an abstract concept (‘rumour’) into a powerful, supernatural agent.[8]

17 Leave a comment on paragraph 17 0 177: ingrediturque solo et caput inter nubila condit: the design of the verse is chiastic: ingreditur correlates with condit, solo with inter nubila; and the accusative object of the second verb (caput; 177) stands at the centre of the arrangement (not unlike uiris in 175).

18 Leave a comment on paragraph 18 0 178–181:

19 Leave a comment on paragraph 19 0 illam Terra parens ira inritata deorum
extremam, ut perhibent, Coeo Enceladoque sororem
progenuit, pedibus celerem et pernicibus alis, 180
monstrum horrendum, ingens, …

20 Leave a comment on paragraph 20 0 The basic syntax of these lines is simple: accusative object (illam) subject (Terra) verb (progenuit). But Virgil manages to ‘inflate’ this basic structure to convey something of Fama’s monstrous nature. His basic technique is to add a predicative complement (extremam … sororem) and two appositional phrases (pedibus celerem et pernicibus alis and monstrum horrendum, ingens) to illam to expand Fama’s presence throughout these verses (see the parts in italics). In comparison, the presence of Fama’s mother (see the bits in bold) dwindles in importance. Two hyperbata reinforce the effect of monstrosity, ensuring that both the figure of Fama and Virgil’s verse-design and syntax are terribly ‘out of shape’: (i) Terra parens … progenuit (reinforced by the front-position of illam); (ii) extremam … sororem. Rhythm, too, matches theme: line 180, which describes Fama’s swiftness, is almost entirely dactylic (the exception being the fourth foot), whereas the subsequent verse has a horrendously spondaic opening: monstrum horrendum ingens. (Note the two elisions, which generate a monstrous agglomeration.) Virgil further enhances the impression of speed in line 180 by means of alliteration (progenuit, pedibus, pernicibus) and preference for the ‘light’ vowels e and i, especially in the central portion pedibus celerem et pernicibus—in contrast to the heavy mons-, and hor– and the plodding homoioteleuton –strum, –dum (which impacts despite the elision) in line 181.[9]

21 Leave a comment on paragraph 21 0 178: Terra parens, ira inritata deorum: the mother of Fama is Earth, who brought forth Fama because she was angry at the gods (deorum is an objective genitive dependent on ira; the paronomasia ira inritata almost amounts to a specious figura etymologica).

22 Leave a comment on paragraph 22 0 179: extremam, ut perhibent, Coeo Enceladoque sororem: Fama figures here as the last of the giants. Her brother Enceladus already figured at 3.578–62: fama (sic!) has it, so Aeneas says while recounting their adventures on Sicily, that Jupiter struck Enceladus low with his thunderbolt and then piled Mt. Etna on top of him. In Greek mythology, Coeus is one of the Titans, but the 1st-century AD mythographer Hyginus (writing in Latin) includes him in a list of giants. He is the obscure father of Leto/ Latona, the famous mother of Apollo and Diana. Ovid makes fun of his obscurity at Metamorphoses 6.185–86 (Niobe speaking): nescio quoque audete satam Titanida Coeo/ Latonam praeferre mihi… (‘dare to prefer to me the Titan-daughter Latona, born from some Coeus or other…’).

23 Leave a comment on paragraph 23 0 179: ut perhibent: this vague reference to ‘hearsay’, by which the author both acknowledges his use of sources and distances himself from their truth value, is particularly appropriate in the present context: Virgil is picking up rumours on Rumour.

24 Leave a comment on paragraph 24 0 180: progenuit, pedibus celerem et pernicibus alis: Fama is swift on the ground (pedibus) and in the air (pernicibus alis; pernix, –icis: ‘swift’, ‘agile’). The verse enacts the quality: ‘note the swift rhythm and the hard, clattering consonants’,[10] notes Austin, referring to the preponderance of dactyls and the alliteration plus assonance of pro-, –ge-, pe-, ce-, pe-, –ci-.

25 Leave a comment on paragraph 25 0 181–183: cui, quot sunt corpore plumae,/ tot uigiles oculi subter (mirabile dictu),/ tot linguae, totidem ora sonant, tot subrigit auris: Virgil seems to be saying that Fama has as many (quot) feathers on her body as she has eyes (oculi), tongues and mouths (linguae, ora), and ears (auris). In the quot-clause an ei (matching cui) needs to be supplied mentally, just as the verb [sc. sunt] needs to be supplied in the first tot-clause: cui, quot [ei] sunt corpore plumae, tot uigiles [sunt] oculi subter. In the second and third segment of the tricolon Virgil gradually abandons this construction. A break in syntax (‘anacoluthon’) ensues: we are notionally still in the relative clause introduced by cui, but have to assume a shift in the kind of dative (from dative of possession to the ethical dative) in the second segment to stay within this construction; and there is a complete break in syntax in the third segment:[11]

26 Leave a comment on paragraph 26 0cui … tot uigiles oculi subter [sunt], with cui a dative of possession

27 Leave a comment on paragraph 27 0[cui] tot linguae, totidem ora sonant, with cui an ethical dative

28 Leave a comment on paragraph 28 0[quae] tot subrigit auris, with the notional relative pronoun in the nominative since Fama is the subject of subrigit, though it is perhaps better to assume that Virgil does not continue with the relative clause at all.

29 Leave a comment on paragraph 29 0 One could consider the anacoluthon a deliberate rhetorical effect: ordinary syntax is incapable of describing this extraordinary creature. And in one sense, the image seems reasonably straightforward: rumour flies, after all, (hence the feathers) and needs the specified organs to spread effectively. Problems arise because of the subter, which seems designed to specify where, precisely, the watchful eyes are located: one each under each feather? And are we supposed to imagine that the same applies to tongues, mouths, and ears? Visualized, this would turn the underside of each feather into a full-blown face—a seemingly grotesque idea.

30 Leave a comment on paragraph 30 0 One solution would be to say, with Dyer, that the first and second tot-clauses do not refer to Fama’s physique at all, but to the fact that as she flies, below her (subter) human beings watch and chatter, feeding her as she flies by and pricks her ears.[12] Dyer thus construes (and hence punctuates) the cui differently, as a connecting relative that belongs into the quot-clause only: cui quot sunt…, i.e. ‘How many feathers she has, so many watchful eyes there are … etc.’ I am not convinced: this reading would rather reduce Fama’s monstrosity, which Virgil has underscored so much. One could, however, ponder a deliberate ambiguity, insofar as Fama is both a goddess and the sum-total of all human gossip-mongerers, not least since Virgil emphasizes the need for our collaboration with Fama for her to grow and succeed. The open-ended construction may therefore gesture to the fact that the concentrated assemblage of eyes, tongues and mouths, and ears on her body has a numerical, if dispersed, equivalent of individual eyes, tongues, mouths, and ears among us humans: she is not unlike Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan, who, in Abraham Bosse’s famous frontispiece, emerges from the earth as a monstrous creature put together of many individual human beings.

31 Leave a comment on paragraph 31 0 182–183: tot uigiles oculi …,/ tot linguae, totidem ora sonant, tot subrigit auris: within the basic tricolon marked by the anaphora tot, tot, tot, Virgil introduces an element of variation in the second colon, following up the pars pro toto, i.e. linguae, with the totum, i.e. ora, which enables him to slip in another reference to the innumerable devices of communication that Fama has at her disposal.

32 Leave a comment on paragraph 32 0 182: mirabile dictu: dictu is an ablative supine: ‘marvellous to relate.’ Virgil does not say mirabile uisu, i.e. ‘marvellous to behold.’ Why does he put the emphasis on verbal, rather than visual representation? Most obviously, perhaps, this is about Fama, after all, etymologically related to fari, to speak, so Virgil, within his visualization/ personification of the abstract concept, points to its primary meaning and mode of operation.

33 Leave a comment on paragraph 33 0 184–188: After a portrait of the figure, we get a description of her activities, both during nighttime (184: nocte uolat) and daytime (186: luce sedet). (The two verse openings correspond to each other syntactically and metrically.) After taking two lines each to describe Fama during night (184–85) and day (186–87), Virgil sums up his general description of the monster in 188, before focusing on her actions in the case at hand.

34 Leave a comment on paragraph 34 0 184–185: nocte uolat caeli medio terraeque per umbram/ stridens, nec dulci declinat lumina somno: the two verses describing Fama at night revolve around the present participle stridens, which stands like an emphatic pivot between ‘she flies’ (uolat) and ‘she does not sleep’ (necdeclinat…). medio enacts its meaning ‘midway between’ twice: it is placed in the middle of the line and in the middle of its two genitive attributes caeli and terrae (linked by the –que). The effect is enhanced by how Virgil frames the line: nocte is picked up by per umbram.[13] per umbram could go either with uolat (as a pleonastic reinforcement of nocte) or with stridens. If one construes per umbram/ stridens, stridens most likely signifies the whirring sound of her wings as she flies through the dark; if stridens stands without any circumstantial qualification it may also refer to Fama’s screeching.

35 Leave a comment on paragraph 35 0 185: stridens, nec dulci declinat lumina somno: a heavily spondaic line (with the exception of the fifth foot). The soothing alliterative assonance dulci decli– and the coincidence of accent and ictus in declinat lumina somno would lull any reader to sleep, but not Fama! (Note that accent and ictus also coincide in stridens and nec—there is, then, a real tension in this verse: the opening, with its emphasis on screeching and the negation, renders the potential resolution hinted at in the second half ineffectual.)

36 Leave a comment on paragraph 36 0 186–187: luce sedet custos aut summi culmine tecti/ turribus aut altis, et magnas territat urbes: as in the night part, Virgil uses two verbs linked paratactically: sedet and territat. The aut…aut (with the second postponed) coordinates summi culmine tecti and turribus altis. Fama is always on her guard (cf. custos), keeping under surveillance both private dwellings (tecta) and public fortifications (turres), and always choosing the most advantageous, i.e. highest, spot from which to keep watch. (Virgil emphasizes this especially in the phrase summi culmine tecti: she sits on the highest point of the highest roof.)

37 Leave a comment on paragraph 37 0 188: tam ficti prauique tenax quam nuntia ueri: tenax and nuntia stand in apposition to the (implied) subject of uolat, declinat, sedet, and territat, i.e. Fama. The design is chiastic, with the objective genitives framing the adjective and the noun on which they depend (both of which have a verbal force: ‘grasping’ (tenax); ‘announcing’ (nuntia): (a) ficti prauique (b) tenax (b) nuntia (a) ueri. It is, however, slightly unbalanced because of the two negative genitives dependent on tenax: with Fama, it seems, for each bit of the truth we get two bits that are freely invented (cf. ficti) or distorted (cf. praui).

38 Leave a comment on paragraph 38 0 189–197: After the generic description of who Fama is, what she looks like, and how she operates, Virgil proceeds to specify what she does with regard to Dido and Aeneas. The section falls into two parts: we first get the general dissemination of the news (189–95); then, after spreading the news far and wide, Fama proceeds to target Iarbas, knowing full well that he will find the rumours particularly upsetting (196–97). Overall, she conveys the impression that Dido and Aeneas have become, to echo Horace, ‘two pigs in the sty of Epicurus’, giving themselves over to a life of luxury and sex, slaves of their desires: ‘Dido’s court’, Fama intimates, has become ‘the location for a(n) … attempt to realize an Epicurean life.’[14]

39 Leave a comment on paragraph 39 0 189–190: haec tum multiplici populos sermone replebat/ gaudens, et pariter facta atque infecta canebat: replebat—canebat is an unusual rhyme. canere is also what the epic poet (and his internal narrator Aeneas) do. So why does Virgil choose this charged word here? Is he suggesting an analogue between Fama and epic poetry, or, indeed, the problematic truth-value of his (and Aeneas’ narration) and that of the monster? Austin observes that the assonance in facta ~ infecta and replebat ~ canebat ‘effectively suggests the way in which Fama keeps hammering away remorselessly.’[15]

40 Leave a comment on paragraph 40 0 190: gaudens: in terms of syntax, verse position, scansion, and rhetorical function, gaudens mirrors stridens in line 185.

41 Leave a comment on paragraph 41 0 190: pariter facta atque infecta: it is the perfect mixture of truths and falsehoods that makes rumour so insidious: Virgil enacts the mixture by way of the two elisions in fact(a)atqu(e)infecta. In what Fama says, it is impossible to draw a line between what is true and what is false. And consider what she says: is not everything true in one way or another? Sure, she gives the facts an insidious spin, but she does not utter an outright lie. See the allegorical generalization by Hardie for whom Fama ‘represents the power of the spoken word to exceed the truth while yet remaining anchored to it.’[16] He points out the affinity with the rhetorical trope of hyperbole, which, as he shows in his monograph, is absolutely fundamental for Virgil’s aesthetics. What do you make of such (rather disturbing) parallels between Fama and Virgil’s epic song?

42 Leave a comment on paragraph 42 0 191–194: uenisse Aenean Troiano sanguine cretum,/ cui se pulchra uiro dignetur iungere Dido;/ nunc hiemem inter se luxu, quam longa, fouere/ regnorum immemores turpique cupidine captos: the verses, which contain ‘Fama’s song’, are in indirect speech, dependent on canebat: the two main verbs are uenisse (with the subject accusative Aenean) and fouere (with the implied subjects Aeneas and Dido).

43 Leave a comment on paragraph 43 0 191: Troiano sanguine cretum: Virgil is much concerned with ‘blood-descent’—it is a key theme of his epic and governs the interface between the world of the epic and the wider historical context, i.e. the principate of Augustus, not least since it is a Virgilian innovation. Lineage allows Virgil to centre the story of Rome in the one gens to which Aeneas and Iulus, Julius Caesar and Caesar Octavianus belong—even though, as John Henderson rightly reminds us (per litteras) ‘adoption, along with other relations (affinal, fostering, alliance…), turns out to be cardinal in the perpetuation of Rome and Roman tradition: Octavian, Claudius Marcellus, Agrippa, Pallas—all the social sons of the pater patriae throughout the gens Romana. Within the idea of blood-descent, the crucial clash will be thoroughbred Iulus, Trojan on both sides, so “autochthonous” vs. the hybrid Italian-Trojan son of Aeneas and Lavinia. This is the excruciation of “dynastic royalty”, and Augustans knew that already.’ The first time the idiom of blood-descent enters the epic is in the extended proem (1.19–20: progeniem sed enim Troiano a sanguine duci/ audierat [sc. Juno], Tyrias olim quae uerteret arces; ‘Yet in truth she had heard that a race was springing from Trojan blood, to overthrow some day the Tyrian towers’); it then recurs at prominent places throughout, not least in Venus address to Jupiter in Aeneid 1 (235–37: hinc fore ductores, reuocato a sanguine Teurci pollicitus [sc. es, i.e. Jupiter]; ‘you promised that from Teucer’s restored blood-line should come leaders…’) and the so-called ‘parade of heroes’ towards the end of Aeneid 6.

44 Leave a comment on paragraph 44 0 192: cui se pulchra uiro dignetur iungere Dido: Virgil nicely interlaces the two lovers, in what could be seen as an enactment of iungere: Aeneas (cui) Dido (se pulchra) Aeneas (uiro) Dido (dignetur… Dido). uiro (‘as a husband’) complements cui. But Fama picks on ‘beautiful Dido’ (note the hyperbaton), especially by her choice of verb: dignetur, in nice assonance with Dido, slyly refers to her earlier refusal to entertain proposals of renewed wedlock; that she deems the foreign cast-away proper husband-material must grate with the local dignitaries who suffered the indignity of rejection when they went wooing.

45 Leave a comment on paragraph 45 0 193: nunc hiemem inter se luxu, quam longa [sc. sit], fouere: Fama uses a slyly contrived expression. Literally, she says that ‘Dido and Aeneas keep the winter warm between them’, but what she really means is that ‘all winter long, Dido and Aeneas keep each other warm’, in what is a thinly veiled allusion to sex and postcoital hugging. The formulation, together with luxu (see below), is designed to generate envy in those left out in the cold.

46 Leave a comment on paragraph 46 0 193: luxu: luxus refers to ‘soft or extravagant living’, or ‘(over-)indulgence’: OLD s.v. 1. It is a life-style often associated with effeminacy and the perceived decadence of the East. At Rome, the term had a stellar career in stories of decline that set in over the last centuries of the republic, with the influx of wealth and the apparent loosening of the martial-marital ethos that supposedly made Rome great. One influential representative of this view is Sallust, both in his War Against Jugurtha and the War Against Catiline (53.5). The theme of luxury certainly plays a key role in Iarbas’ reaction: below 198–218.

47 Leave a comment on paragraph 47 0 194: regnorum immemores: that this is not simply Fama’s point of view becomes manifest at 221, where Aeneas and Dido are described in the authorial voice (or perhaps through the eyes of Jupiter) as oblitos famae [sic!] melioris amantis (‘lovers forgetful of their better reputation’). Epic is a ‘genre of memory and remembrance’ through and through, from Homer onwards: the basic premise of the Iliad is Achilles’ choice of a short life in return for everlasting fame in Homeric song (the Greek term is kleos) over a long life in forgettable obscurity. And, in the Odyssey, the memory of his wife and home in Ithaca sustains Odysseus on his travels and protects him from all temptation (even the option of acquiring a divine consort, Calypso, and the attendant prospect for immortality): the basis of his kleos (‘immortal fame’) is, not least, a successful nostos (‘return home’). The theme of forgetting is central to the episode of the ‘Lotus-eaters’ (Odyssey 9.91–104), where some of Odysseus’ men eat of the sweet-tasting lotus and become mindless (or, in Latin, immemores) of their desire to return to their native island. In the Aeneid, memory and forgetting operate in an even more complex key, as Aeneas has to overcome his memories and allegiances to the Trojan past to facilitate and found the Roman future. In Carthage, this basic storyline of the epic has reached a temporary dead end.

48 Leave a comment on paragraph 48 0 194: turpique cupidine captos: turpis is ‘morally depraved.’

49 Leave a comment on paragraph 49 0 195: haec passim dea foeda uirum diffundit in ora: this line, which concludes the general section of Fama’s newsreel correlates in diction and meaning with the initial verse, i.e. 189: haec tum multiplici populos sermone replebat. Note the identical openings (haec, followed by an adverbial qualification of time (tum) or space (passim), the similar meanings of the verbs (replebat, diffundit) and the well-nigh synonymous formulations multiplici populos sermone and uirum … in ora. The adjective foeda could modify either haec (‘these foul things’), or dea (‘the foul goddess’), or ora (‘the foul lips of men’); most naturally, it is an epithet of the goddess purely on the basis of proximity in the verse, but the various grammatical possibilities are by no means mutually exclusive. Arguably, the range of options is deliberate, designed to convey something of Fama’s infectious power: the rumours (haec) the foul (foeda) goddess (dea) spreads are foul (foeda) and those who listen to her and disseminate her rumours further become ‘foul-mouthed’ (foeda in ora) as well.

50 Leave a comment on paragraph 50 0 196: protinus ad regem cursus detorquet Iarban/ incenditque animum dictis atque aggerat iras: after the shot-gun approach indicated by passim, protinus conveys a clear sense of purpose and direction. Fama’s plan unfolds in three steps, with the first (accusative object: cursus and verb: detorquet) standing in chiastic order to the second (verb: incendit and accusative object: animum) and third (verb: aggerat and accusative object: iras) cola of the tricolon. detorqueo here means something akin to ‘she changes her path so as to seek out specifically king Iarbas.’ Iarbas was the African king who granted Dido the land on which to build her city and became one of her suitors; he did not take kindly to being rejected (Anna singles him out at 36–7 from among the other African princes: despectus Iarbas/ ductoresque alii), much less to hearing about her willingness to enter into a liaison with a Trojan refugee instead: this was adding insult to injury. Fama knows how best to stir up trouble.

51 Leave a comment on paragraph 51 0 197: dictis: best taken apo koinou with both incendit animum and aggerat iras.

52 Leave a comment on paragraph 52 0 197: aggerat iras: aggero, -are, -avi, -atum [agger + o] here means ‘to reinforce, intensify’: OLDs.v. 6a. Iarbas was already aggrieved by Dido’s rejection of his advances.

53 Leave a comment on paragraph 53 0  


54 Leave a comment on paragraph 54 0 [1]
See also Homer, Iliad 2.93 and Odyssey 24.413 (for the workings of rumour). For a survey of earlier authors as well as imitators of Virgil (from Ovid onwards) see Pease (1935), pp. 211–13.

55 Leave a comment on paragraph 55 0  

58 Leave a comment on paragraph 58 0 [3]
The nickname of the now defunct News of the World, for instance, was ‘News of the Screws’: see http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-14070733.

59 Leave a comment on paragraph 59 0  

60 Leave a comment on paragraph 60 0 [4]
Hardie (2009), p. 67, with a more detailed discussion at pp. 116–25 (‘The Sublime and Grotesque Body of the Poet’).

61 Leave a comment on paragraph 61 0  

62 Leave a comment on paragraph 62 0 [5]
Another famous instance of this trope occurs at the very end of the Aeneid. Just before Aeneas deals Turnus the fatal blow he tells his foe that the one who is going to kill him is Pallas, the son of Euander whom Turnus had slain before: 12.948–49: Pallas te hoc uulnere, Pallas/ immolat et poenam scelerato ex sanguine sumit.

63 Leave a comment on paragraph 63 0  

64 Leave a comment on paragraph 64 0 [6]
Hardie (2009), p. 71. (Note that the bolding of auget in Lucretius points to uiget in Virgil. One could further argue that Virgil, with adquirit, economically sums up the three Lucretian verbs sumere, crescit, and auget, just as he contracts the phrase ualidas … uiris into uiget. Lucretius’ prolixity is of course part of his message: it conveys something of the difficulty of harnessing all the atoms that go into the making of a thunderbolt; Virgil’s divine agent can operate more organically.)

65 Leave a comment on paragraph 65 0  

66 Leave a comment on paragraph 66 0 [7]
Hardie (2009), p. 72. See also p. 93: ‘The unpacking of Religio into fama (deum), fulmina, minitans murmur provides us with an identikit for Fama: her name, the meteorological phenomenon with which she is allusively identified, and the hostile mutterings that are her mode of operation.’

67 Leave a comment on paragraph 67 0  

68 Leave a comment on paragraph 68 0 [8]
Ironically, Fama goes on to stimulate religious doubts in at least one character in the poem, i.e. Iarbas: see below on 4.198–218. In other words, she has the same effect as Epicurus, throwing into question the notion of a universe governed by divine forces.

69 Leave a comment on paragraph 69 0  

70 Leave a comment on paragraph 70 0 [9]
Cf. Aeneid 3.658 (of Polyphemus): monstrum horrendum informe ingens

71 Leave a comment on paragraph 71 0  

74 Leave a comment on paragraph 74 0 [11]
See further Hardie (2009), pp. 99–100 who points out that a variant of this construction recurs at Aeneid 7.325–26 when Virgil describes the Fury Allecto: cui tristia bella | iraeque insidiaeque et crimina noxia cordi, which in turn points back to Ennius’ representation of Discordia (‘Strife’) in his epic Annales, fragment 220–21 in Skutsch’s edition: corpore tartarino prognata Paluda uirago | cui par imber et ignis, spiritus et grauis terra (‘a maiden in a military cloak, born with hellish body, of equal proportion with water and fire, air and heavy earth’). Discordia, like Fama an outbirth of chthonic divinities, is of obvious relevance to the Fama-episode and her personified appearance in Ennius may have had archetypal status for Virgil. See Hardie (2009), p. 101: ‘Ennius’ Discordia was perhaps the original embodiment in Roman poetry of the monstrous sublime, her impact heightened by the judicious obscurity of her elemental body’ with a more detailed discussion following on pages 103–07, drawing in part on Feeney (1998), pp. 109–11.

75 Leave a comment on paragraph 75 0  

76 Leave a comment on paragraph 76 0 [12]
Dyer (1989). He argues that this interpretation would go some way towards explaining Virgil’s preference for mirabile dictu over mirabile uisu (though this can be accounted for in other ways: see note ad loc.). Cf. critically Hardie (2009), pp. 95–96.

77 Leave a comment on paragraph 77 0  

78 Leave a comment on paragraph 78 0 [13]
Mercury, who is, in many ways, chthonic Fama’s Olympian double, is also depicted as flying midways between sky and earth: terras inter caelumque uolabat (256).

79 Leave a comment on paragraph 79 0  

80 Leave a comment on paragraph 80 0 [14]
Hardie (2009), p. 71. See also Pease (1935), pp. 36–38 and Dyson (1996), both cited by Hardie.

81 Leave a comment on paragraph 81 0  

Source: http://aeneid4.theclassicslibrary.com/2012/11/30/173-197%E2%80%82the-news-goes-viral-2/