|

Allusion

1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 Literary texts point beyond themselves in ways intimately related to how language works more generally. Any use of language is to some extent a re-use: ‘Whenever we describe the world, consciously or unconsciously we measure our descriptions against previous descriptions of the world. The words which we use have always been used before; we never have a monopoly on their contexts and connotations.’[1] This does not mean that we simply have to re-mouth what others have mouthed before. In creative literature especially, the inevitability of having to rely on already established linguistic and literary conventions ‘is complicated by a high level of linguistic and literary self-awareness on the part of the individual language-user—in texts and traditions in which authors and readers, not content to be acted upon passively by tradition, seek to shape and define it to their own specifications.’ Tradition may stifle as well as enable originality.

2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 In various ways, literary texts that belong to the same cultural tradition are in conversation with each other. They draw on, and in turn contribute to, a stock of linguistic conventions, widely shared commonplaces (so-called topoi), and ideas. Then again, authors may enter into allusive dialogue with specific predecessors, in a process that involves both imitation (imitatio) and emulation (aemulatio)—and in turn become subject to the same procedure at the hands of their successors. For the literary critic, it sometimes proves difficult to decide whether the simultaneous presence of a given formulation, image, or idea in two authors evinces allusive dialogue or rather betokens an independent tabbing of a common repository of poetic idiom and imagery.

3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 Various modes of intertextual sharing characterize all literary traditions. But in the quality and density of its allusive texture, Latin literature stands apart. One of the reasons is its pronounced bi-cultural outlook. From the start, authors composing literary texts in Latin (a practice that started in earnest in the third-century BC—i.e. very late: half a millennium after the Homeric poems were codified in writing) participated in the creative negotiation and transformation of two cultural traditions—the Greek and the Roman. (Yes, there was Roman culture before there was Latin literature.) In the not-too-distant past, many classicists tended to consider the reliance of Latin authors on Greek models a deficiency and looked down upon their texts as derivative and second-rate. This overlooks the fact that the very process of domesticating and transforming the literary heritage of another culture in Latin was an unprecedented phenomenon of signal importance. As Denis Feeney puts this absolutely essential point: ‘In creating a national literature in the vernacular on the model of another national literature, these denizens of the overlapping cultures of central and southern Italy were engaged in an undertaking which no one in the Mediterranean had ever contemplated before, but which became a paradigm for later literary history. The invention of Roman literature is one of the most extraordinary events in history….’[2]

4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 0 Because of its inherently dialogic nature, some of the finest Roman poetry resembles a palimpsest, i.e. a manuscript that has been written on more than once, with the earlier writing incompletely erased and often legible underneath the new text, or, to use another (and better) metaphor, a symphony. In addition to the poet’s own voice, the voices of predecessors (Greek as well as Roman) frequently resonate in a Latin poem. Whether they are present subliminally or invoked explicitly (perhaps only to be silenced), such further voices have the potential to enrich the meaning of a text immeasurably. And there are few texts in which the presence of allusive voices is quite so prominent as the Aeneid.

5 Leave a comment on paragraph 5 0 Virgil’s epic constitutes a watershed in Latin literary history. The Aeneid subsumes the entire previous tradition of Greek and Latin literature. Conversely, as a text that acquired quasi-canonical status while still in the making and became an instant classic upon its posthumous publication, it exercised a profound influence on all contemporary and subsequent poets.[3] Most obviously, Virgil’s epic is a rewriting, in Latin, of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey. Virgil ‘footnotes’ both Homeric epics in his opening phrase Arma uirumque cano. Arma (‘arms’) recalls the battlefields of the Iliad, whereas uirum (‘man’, in the accusative) ‘translates’ the first word of the Odyssey, i.e. Ἄνδρα/ Andra (‘man’, also in the accusative)—though Arma also picks up Andra via assonance, whereas the entire phrase arma uirumque cano (‘of arms and the man I sing’) metrically mirrors the opening imperative of the Iliad, i.e. Μῆνιν ἄειδε θεὰ (Mênin aeide thea; ‘Of the wrath sing, goddess’). Built into this mirror effect, however, is also a Virgilian assertion of difference, and perhaps even a claim to superiority: Homer calls upon a goddess, a Muse, to sing, thus turning himself into a mouthpiece of the divinity; in contrast, Virgil states that he is doing the singing (cano). The switch from the imperative in Homer to the indicative in Virgil signals a significant difference in the authorial persona adopted by the two poets. ‘Virgil’ is far more ‘present’ in his narrative than ‘Homer’. True, a few lines later he too musters the help of the Muse (1.8: Musa, mihi causas memora…). But even here Virgil foregrounds his own role as poet to a far greater degree than the poet of the Iliad: the Muse is ordered to remind him (mihi) and he tells us.[4]

6 Leave a comment on paragraph 6 0 Virgil’s reworking of Homer operates at various levels, from the large-scale to the minute. It involves structural parallels in the overall design, but never without complications. Virgil, for instance, systematically undoes the separation of ‘war in a foreign country’ (Iliad) and ‘homecoming’ (Odyssey) achieved by the Homeric epics and conflates the two in what amounts to a programmatic mess. An example: for Turnus, what transpires in the second half of the Aeneid is an Iliadic invasion (with Aeneas and his Trojans playing the role of the Greeks); for Aeneas, in contrast, it is an Odyssean homecoming (with Turnus and the Latins playing the role of Penelope’s presumptuous suitors, trying to prevent him from claiming his birthright, land, bride, and all).[5]

7 Leave a comment on paragraph 7 0 Then there are typological affinities between Homeric and Virgilian figures. Many characters in Virgil resemble, though never fully replicate, one or more characters in Homer. Aeneas both is, and is not (like) Achilles and Odysseus. Turnus both is and is not (like) Hector. And Dido brings to mind an entire host of Homeric predecessors, in particular Calypso, Nausicaa, and Circe. (And as we shall see, other women from myth and history join those from Homer in Virgil’s mirror cabinet, refracting Dido one way or another.) Then again, one and the same Homeric character may function as an archetype for more than one figure in Virgil. For example: in different ways, both Aeneas and Turnus recall Achilles.

8 Leave a comment on paragraph 8 0 Virgil’s engagement with Homer further involves the repetition of so-called ‘type-scenes’—scenes that recur with a certain frequency and often follow an established pattern. A good example from the set passage is Mercury’s descent from Mt. Olympus to carry out some business of Jupiter’s in the human sphere. We get such a descent at Iliad 24.339–48, Odyssey 5.43–54, Aeneid 1.297-304, and Aeneid 4.238–58, with the last one unfolding against the horizon of the earlier three.[6]

9 Leave a comment on paragraph 9 0 Then again the presence of Homer in Virgil may manifest itself in the recurrence of a specific word or phrase that adds unexpected colour and complexity. An intriguing instance from the set passage occurs at Aeneid 4.149, in the simile that compares Aeneas to Apollo. The phrase tela sonant umeris (‘arrows rattle on [Apollo’s] shoulders’) arguably recalls Homer’s description of Apollo at the outset of the Iliad, where the deity, who knows how to make an entry, takes wrathful strides down from the peaks of Olympus while ‘the arrows rattled on the shoulders of the angry god, as he moved’: Iliad 1.46–7). What happens if we read the Aeneid passage with the Iliad passage in mind? In Homer, the arrows of Apollo will bring the plague upon the Greeks. Does that turn Aeneas—whom the simile compares to the (Homeric?) Apollo—into a bringer of plague as well?[7]

10 Leave a comment on paragraph 10 0 Homer, then, is Virgil’s most important interlocutor. But he is by no means the only Greek author whose presence is felt in the text. In Aeneid 4, Greek tragedy (and its Latin adaptation by Roman republican playwrights) resonates with particular force, both on the general level of genre and in terms of allusions to specific plays.[8] And as the late-antique commentator Servius has it, in what amounts to a ham-fisted hyperbole, ‘all of Aeneid 4 is based on Book 3 of Apollonius Rhodius’ Argonautica’, where a youthful Medea is made to fall madly in love with Jason.[9] While Servius’ comment is in various ways misguided—much of what happens in Argonautica 3, for instance, such as the stealth-attack by Eros/ Cupid, finds a rerun already in Aeneid 1, and much of what happens in Aeneid 4 (such as the ‘marriage’ in the cave) is in part modelled on events in Argonautica 4—the Medea of Argonautica 3 is an important point of reference for the Dido of Aeneid 4.

11 Leave a comment on paragraph 11 0 The imagery Apollonius uses to explore the consequences of Eros’ assault on Medea stands behind Virgil’s idiom at the beginning of the book. ‘The arrow burned deep in the girl’s heart, like flame’, writes Apollonius, (3.286–87: βέλος δ’ ἐνεδαίετο κούρῃ/ νέρθεν ὑπὸ κραδίῃ φλογὶ εἴκελον) and compares the way Medea flares up in love to a woman who kindles a fire at night—‘such was the destructive love which coiled around her heart and burnt there in secret’ (3.296–97: τοῖος ὑπὸ κραδίῃ εἰλυµένος αἴθετο λάθρῃ/ οὖλος ἔρως). For readers familiar with Apollonius, Virgil’s scenario of a heroine being stricken (4.1: saucia, 4.2: uulnus, 4.4: infixi) by Cupid beneath the heart (4.4: pectore) that kindles fires of love (4.2: igni) which burn away in secret (4.2: uenis; caeco) has the unmistakable ring of a déjà vu—and reinforces the intertextual relationship between Apollonius’ Medea and Virgil’s Dido.

12 Leave a comment on paragraph 12 0 Apollonius’ contemporary and rival Callimachus plays a more oblique, but equally important role in the allusive symphony of Aeneid 4. His presence is often ‘mediated’ by Catullus’ earlier engagement with Callimachus. Thus, throughout the Dido episode Virgil repeatedly gestures to Catullus 66 and, via Catullus 66, to Callimachus. Catullus 66 ‘translates’ into Latin the so-called ‘Lock of Berenice’ (or, in Latin, Coma Berenices) by Callimachus, which is the climactic finale to Callimachus’ most influential poetry book entitled Aetia (‘Origins’). It offers a commentary on the marriage between King Ptolemy II Philadelphus and his sister Berenice (Callimachus’ very own queen) from the point of view of a lock of the queen’s hair: for shortly after their wedding, Ptolemy had to absent himself in warfare and the forlorn newly-wed decided to vow to sacrifice one of her locks should her husband return safe and sound. This lock, once dedicated to the gods, disappeared and was later spotted by the astronomer Conon as a constellation in the sky. (Yes, those Alexandrian poets liked it contrived: their playful sophistication is an acquired taste.)

13 Leave a comment on paragraph 13 0 From the very beginning of his career as a poet, Virgil took a keen interest in Callimachus’ Lock of Berenice (and its rendition into Latin by Catullus). And allusions to Catullus 66, which is a poem about sex (lawful and illicit), marriage, faithful spousal devotion, and the abomination of adultery, but rehearses these themes within wider historical and cosmic settings, and with specific reference to an African queen, recur throughout the story of Dido and Aeneas. Here is the evidence:

14 Leave a comment on paragraph 14 0 (i) From the Eclogues to the Georgics to the Aeneid (and beyond):

15 Leave a comment on paragraph 15 0 ‘In narrating the death and catasterism of Julius Caesar in Metamorphoses 15, Ovid alludes to the Callimachean Lock of Berenice… But the conversion of the Lock of Berenice into the sidus Iulium is not an Ovidian innovation. Jeff Wills points to the parallels between the opening of Catullus 66 and the sudden appearance to the stargazing Daphnis of the Caesaris astrum at Eclogue 9.46–8. At the beginning of the Georgics the poet [sc. Virgil] foresees the possibility of a catasterism of Octavian himself, a nouum sidus that likewise alludes to the Coma Berenices. When in Aeneid i Jupiter reassures Venus that she will carry Aeneas “sublimen … ad sidera caeli (i.259–60), this will be a repetition of what she had previously done for the Lock of Berenice (Cat. 66.63–4.).’[10]

16 Leave a comment on paragraph 16 0 (ii) Aeneid 4.8: unanimam … sororem:

17 Leave a comment on paragraph 17 0 At the opening of Aeneid 4, Dido visits her sister Anna, her ‘other half’. Virgil uses the striking attribute unanimus to characterize the close relationship of the two sisters, before narrating their conversation, which revolves, centrally, around the question as to whether Dido ought to stay faithful to her deceased first husband or pursue a marriage with Aeneas. Compare Catullus 66.79-86 (the speaker is the lock of hair, giving advice to recently married girls and sharing thoughts on adultery—in parallel to Dido’s self-imprecation should she become unfaithful to her deceased husband):[11]

18 Leave a comment on paragraph 18 0 nunc vos, optato quas iunxit lumine taeda,

19 Leave a comment on paragraph 19 0 non prius unanimis corpora coniugibus

20 Leave a comment on paragraph 20 0 tradite nudantes reiecta ueste papillas,

21 Leave a comment on paragraph 21 0 quam iucunda mihi munera libet onyx –

22 Leave a comment on paragraph 22 0 vester onyx, casto colitis quae iura cubili.

23 Leave a comment on paragraph 23 0 sed quae se impuro dedit adulterio,

24 Leave a comment on paragraph 24 0 illius – a! – mala dona levis bibat irrita pulvis:

25 Leave a comment on paragraph 25 0 namque ego ab indignis praemia nulla peto.

26 Leave a comment on paragraph 26 0 [You, whom the wedding-torch has joined with its longed-for light, do not now surrender your bodies to your concordant spouses casting aside your clothes and baring your nipples, before the onyx [a type of vase used to store ointments, in this case for hair] pours pleasing gifts to me, the onyx belonging to you who observe the laws in chaste marriage. But as for the woman who has given herself to filthy adultery, let the powdery dusk drink up her evil gifts—ah!—and render them futile.]

26 Leave a comment on paragraph 26 0 The fact that unanimus in Catullus refers specifically to a couple of ‘sibling spouses’ would seem to make it an appropriate point of reference for a passage in which siblings (Anna and Dido) argue about spouses—especially in light of the fact that the notion of legitimate sex between a married couple is shortly afterwards followed with a curse on those who commit adultery, in parallel to Dido’s self-imprecation should she become unfaithful to her deceased husband.

27 Leave a comment on paragraph 27 0 (iii) Aeneid 4.66–67: est mollis flamma medullas/ interea et tacitum uiuit sub pectore uulnus:

28 Leave a comment on paragraph 28 0 If the previous instance could perhaps be dismissed as a lexical accident, these lines quite forcefully recall Catullus 66.23–24 (the Lock speaking, commenting on the separation of her mistress from her beloved husband):

29 Leave a comment on paragraph 29 0 quam penitus maestas exedit cura medullas!

30 Leave a comment on paragraph 30 0 ut tibi tunc toto pectore sollicitae

31 Leave a comment on paragraph 31 0 sensibus ereptis mens excidit!

32 Leave a comment on paragraph 32 0 [How deep did emotion eat out the sad marrow of your bones! How then when you were troubled with all your heart you lost your senses and fell unconscious!]

32 Leave a comment on paragraph 32 0 Virgil’s est mollis flamma medullas reworks Catullus’ maestas exedit cura medullas in allusive variation: the verb is the same, though Virgil uses the simple rather than the composite. flamma and cura are virtually synonymous (especially in the light of Aen. 4.1–2 where Dido is said to be afflicted by the cura and the caecus ignis in her veins) and occur in the same metrical position. And mollis … medullas recalls maestas … medullas (same case, same metrical position of medullas at the end of the line), with Virgil retaining the soft and plangent m-alliteration. (Virgil also keeps Catullus’ emphasis on sadness in Catullus’ maestas, which he initially loses with his choice of mollis as attribute of medullas, by endowing Dido with her standard epithet infelix in line 68.)

33 Leave a comment on paragraph 33 0 (iv) Aeneid 4.321–33 (Dido speaking): te propter eundem/ exstinctus pudor et, qua sola sidera adibam,/ fama prior (‘because of you my sense of shame has been lost and that prior stellar reputation by which alone I was approaching the stars’):

34 Leave a comment on paragraph 34 0 Dido here holds Aeneas’ accountable for destroying her only hope of undergoing a notional ‘catasterism’, i.e. the metamorphosis of a human being into a heavenly body. The somewhat baffling formulation qua sola sidera adibam resonates powerfully if we set this desire in the context of other such ascents or apotheoses: that of Berenice’s lock, that of Caesar, that of Aeneas, that of Augustus…

35 Leave a comment on paragraph 35 0 (v) Aeneid 4.357 (Aeneas speaking in his address to Dido in which he tries to justify his departure): testor utrumque caput (‘I swear by both our lives’):

36 Leave a comment on paragraph 36 0 utrumque is most likely to be understood as meum et tuum. It recalls Catullus 66.40: adiuro teque tuumque caput (‘I swear by you and by your head’). As Lyne comments: ‘At a morally crucial juncture Aeneas has appealed to Dido’s head; and the appeal is quietly but (as will emerge) importantly intertextual with Catullus.’[12]

37 Leave a comment on paragraph 37 0 (vi) Aeneid 4.492–93 (Dido speaking to Anna): testor, cara, deos et te, germana, tuumque/ dulce caput (‘I call the gods to witness and you, dear sister, and your dear life’):

38 Leave a comment on paragraph 38 0 This, again, recalls Catullus 66.40: adiuro teque tuumque caput.

39 Leave a comment on paragraph 39 0 (vii) The pattern culminates in 4.693–705, the very end of the Book, where Dido, too, has a lock of hair severed:

40 Leave a comment on paragraph 40 0 Tum Iuno omnipotens longum miserata dolorem
difficilisque obitus Irim demisit Olympo
quae luctantem animam nexosque resolueret artus. 695
nam quia nec fato merita nec morte peribat,
sed misera ante diem subitoque accensa furore,
nondum illi flauum Proserpina uertice crinem
abstulerat Stygioque caput damnauerat Orco.
ergo Iris […] 700
deuolat et supra caput astitit. ‘hunc ego Diti 702
sacrum iussa fero teque isto corpore soluo’:
sic ait et dextra crinem secat, omnis et una
dilapsus calor atque in uentos uita recessit.

41 Leave a comment on paragraph 41 0 [Then almighty Juno, taking pity on Dido’s drawn-out agony and painful dying, sent Iris down from Olympus to release her struggling soul and the bonds of her limbs. For since she perished neither according to fate for by a death she deserved, but wretchedly before her day and in the heat of a sudden frenzy, Proserpina had not yet taken from her head the golden lock and consigned her life to the Stygian Underworld. Therefore Iris […] flew down and halted above her head. ‘This offering, sacred to Dis I take as bidden and release you from this body’: so she spoke and severs the lock with her hand, and all the warmth dissipated all at once and her life vanished into the winds.]

41 Leave a comment on paragraph 41 0 As Lyne notes, comparing Aeneid 4.698 with Catullus 66.62: deuotae flaui uerticis exuuiae (‘the votive spoil of a blonde head’), ‘both Berenice and Dido are not only blondes but “flauae”.’[13] He offers the following overall interpretation of the pattern, which sets up a family-resemblance between Dido and Berenice, the wife of Ptolemy, both royalty from Africa (191–92): ‘The magnificent Queen of Aen. Book 1 is reduced to death agonies. Venus is causally involved in her death, as imagery, if nothing else, tells us. In these death agonies a lock of Dido’s fair hair has to be cut from her head and devoted to the god of Death, Dis, and thus and then she can die. Now consider the fate of her intertextual counterpart, Berenice. A lock of her fair hair is also cut, but it is honoured by Venus, it is placed in the bosom of Venus (66.56, ‘et Veneris casto collocat in gremio’), and it is made a star in heaven by, if the text is correctly emended, the direct agency of Venus. 66.59–62:

42 Leave a comment on paragraph 42 0 inde Venus uario ne solum in lumine caeli

43 Leave a comment on paragraph 43 0 ex Ariadnaeis aurea temporibus

44 Leave a comment on paragraph 44 0 fixa corona foret, sed nos quoque fulgeremus

45 Leave a comment on paragraph 45 0 deuotae flaui uerticis exuuiae…

46 Leave a comment on paragraph 46 0 Then Venus, lest alone in the varied light of heaven the golden crown from Ariadne’s temples should find a place, but that we also might shine forth, the votive spoil of a blonde head…

47 Leave a comment on paragraph 47 0 And the catasterized lock tells of all this fantastic felicity to the living and reigning Queen Berenice. The courtly dazzle of the intertext, Berenice’s and her lock’s magnificent triumph, the honouring of Berenice by Venus, underscores the tragedy of Dido’s text, Dido destroyed by Venus, and the text of her death-dedicated lock; the intertext works here in a way comparable to a Homeric “contrast simile”.’

48 Leave a comment on paragraph 48 0 (viii) There is a sequel in Aeneid 6, when Aeneas meets Dido in the Underworld. At this moment, Virgil makes him ‘quote’ Catullus 66. Compare Catullus 66.39–40 (the Lock speaking):

49 Leave a comment on paragraph 49 0 invita, o regina, tuo de vertice cessi,

50 Leave a comment on paragraph 50 0 invita: adiuro teque tuumque caput.

51 Leave a comment on paragraph 51 0 [O queen, against my will I left your head, against my will: I swear by you and by your had.]

51 Leave a comment on paragraph 51 0 with Aeneid 6.458–60 (Aeneas speaking):

52 Leave a comment on paragraph 52 0 per sidera iuro,

53 Leave a comment on paragraph 53 0 per superos et si qua fides tellure sub ima est,

54 Leave a comment on paragraph 54 0 inuitus, regina, tuo de litore cessi.

55 Leave a comment on paragraph 55 0 [By the stars I swear, by the gods above and if there is any honesty under the earth below, against my will, queen, I left your shores.]

55 Leave a comment on paragraph 55 0 inuitus, regina, tuo de litore cessi replicates almost verbatim inuita, o regina, tuo de uertice cessi. The only differences are the switch in gender (the Lock is feminine, hence inuita; Aeneas is male, hence inuitus) and the shift in location from uertice to litore. Yet both uertice and litore are ablatives of separation with cessi, are identical from the point of view of prosody, and occur in the same position in the verse. Moreover, whereas the Lock, now a ‘new star’ (sidus nouum: 66.64) swears by her former owner and place of residence (adiuro teque tuumque caput), Virgil makes Aeneas swear, first and foremost, ‘by the stars’ (per sidera iuro), that is, the kind of object that the Lock of Berenice has turned into. Here is Susan Skulsky’s take on this remarkable passage: ‘We have been told that Aeneas’ Roman mission will result in his ascent to the stars; Jupiter assures Venus: “sublimen … feres ad sidera caeli/ magnanimum Aenean” (1.259f.). Dido had told Aeneas that because of her affair with him she could no longer look forward to the astral immortality of the virtuous: “exstinctus pudor et, qua sola sidera adibam, fama prior” (4.322 f.). Now, attempting to reassure Dido as he swears by the stars (6.458) and uses the words of the constellation Coma Berenices, he instead unwittingly emphasizes the contrast between his success and her ruination.’[14] Moreover, Callimachus’ queen is the distant ancestor of Cleopatra. The allusive dialogue thus also sustains a typological relationship between the mythic Dido and the historical Cleopatra, who figures prominently on the shield of Aeneas in Book 8 and is another femme fatale out of Africa, who committed suicide.

56 Leave a comment on paragraph 56 0 As for Latin authors: apart from Catullus, the other Latin poet of special importance for Aeneid 4 is Lucretius—as Philip Hardie above all has worked out in a series of incisive studies, spanning by now over a quarter of a century.[15] More generally, the Aeneid also engages, subsumes, and marginalizes Roman republican epic, most of which is now lost to us.[16]

57 Leave a comment on paragraph 57 0 * * *

58 Leave a comment on paragraph 58 0 As the previous pages ought to have shown, a rich network of allusions to Greek and Roman predecessors renders Virgil’s poetry vibrant with meaning for those familiar with his models and sources. Unfortunately, Virgil made little allowance for the restrictions of a modern school syllabus. To appreciate the intertextual dimension of the Aeneid requires a certain willingness to read around in unassigned authors and see how they figure in Virgil’s text. To go in search of allusions is not unlike a treasure hunt—one can end up empty-handed (grasping at straws) or discover richly rewarding intertexts. For those tempted to embark on allusive adventures traditional commentaries offer good starting points, by way of what we may call ‘cf.-gestures.’ Cf. is short for confer, i.e. the second person singular present imperative active of confero, conferre, ‘bring together’, ‘to compare.’ These commands to compare tend to be followed by a list of references and sound bites. In the second part of this essay, I want to illustrate what sort of thing one can discover if one follows the lead of such a commentary entry, in the spirit of a ‘Do-It-Yourself Guide’ to intertextual reading. Our point of departure is the comment by Pease on saucia in Aeneid 4.1–2: At regina graui iamdudum saucia cura/ uulnus alit uenis…:[17]

59 Leave a comment on paragraph 59 0 With this use of saucia cf. also Enn. Med. 254: Medea animo aegro amore saevo saucia; Catull. 64, 250: multiplices animo volvebat saucia curas; Lucr. 4, 1048: mens unde est saucia amore; Tib. 2, 5, 109: iaceo cum saucius; Ov. H. 5, 152: e nostro saucius igne fuit; 12, 57: ut positum tetigi thalamo male saucia lectum; Sil. 2, 422: ipsa pyram super ingentem stans saucia Dido.

60 Leave a comment on paragraph 60 0 Step 1: Decode the information

61 Leave a comment on paragraph 61 0 Before we can act on the instruction to compare, we need to know what Pease would like us to compare Virgil’s use of saucia with. If we unpack his information, here is what we get:

62 Leave a comment on paragraph 62 0 (i) Enn. Med. 254: Medea animo aegro amore saevo saucia (‘Medea, sick at heart, wounded by savage love’)

63 Leave a comment on paragraph 63 0 Enn. = Quintus Ennius (c. 239–169 BC)

64 Leave a comment on paragraph 64 0 Med. = His tragedy Medea, which has only survived in fragments.

65 Leave a comment on paragraph 65 0 254 = the number of the fragment in the edition of Ennius by J. Vahlen: Ennianae poesis reliquiae: iteratis curis recensuit Ioannes Vahlen, Leipzig 1903. Since this is a fragment from one of Ennius’ tragedies, it also appears in the frequently cited edition of the fragmentary Roman playwrights by O. Ribbeck: Scaenicae Romanorum poesis fragmenta: tertiis curis recognouit Otto Ribbeck: vol. 1: tragicorum fragmenta, Leipzig 1897, in which it is number 213. But the standard edition of Ennius’ tragic fragments is now the one by H. D. Jocelyn: The Tragedies of Ennius: The Fragments edited with an Introduction and Commentary, Cambridge 1967, in which this line is numbered 216.

66 Leave a comment on paragraph 66 0 (ii) Catull. 64, 250: multiplices animo volvebat saucia curas (‘she kept turning over in her heart her manifold worries, stricken’)

67 Leave a comment on paragraph 67 0 Catull. = Gaius Valerius Catullus (c. 84–c. 54 BC)

68 Leave a comment on paragraph 68 0 64, 250 = A reference to his Poem 64, verse 250. 64, Catullus’ longest poem, is a so-called ‘epyllion’ (‘a little epic in the polished, Alexandrian manner’)

69 Leave a comment on paragraph 69 0 (iii) Lucr. 4, 1048: mens unde est saucia amore (‘whence the mind is wounded with love’)

70 Leave a comment on paragraph 70 0 Lucr. = Titus Lucretius Carus (c. 99–c. 55 BC)

71 Leave a comment on paragraph 71 0 4, 1048 = A reference to Book 4, verse 1048 of his only surviving work, the didactic epic in six books on the philosophy of Epicurus entitled De Rerum Natura (‘On the Nature of Things’)

72 Leave a comment on paragraph 72 0 (iv) Tib. 2, 5, 109: iaceo cum saucius (‘when I lie wounded…’)

73 Leave a comment on paragraph 73 0 Tib. = Albius Tibullus (c. 55–19 BC)

74 Leave a comment on paragraph 74 0 2, 5, 109 = The reference is to Book 2, Poem 5, verse 109 of his collection of love elegies

75 Leave a comment on paragraph 75 0 (v) Ov. H. 5, 152: e nostro saucius igne fuit (‘he was wounded from our fire’); 12, 57: ut positum tetigi thalamo male saucia lectum (‘…when I touched the prepared bed in my chamber, badly wounded…’)

76 Leave a comment on paragraph 76 0 Ov. = Publius Ovidius Naso (20 March 43 BC–17/18 AD)

77 Leave a comment on paragraph 77 0 H. = Heroides, a collection of fictional letters by abandoned heroines from myth (with the exception of Letter 15, which is by ‘Sappho’ to Phaon), written in elegiac couplets. Scholars have found it impossible to reach an agreement on the precise dating of individual poems; the first collection may have appeared around 15 BC. The references are to Letter 5 (Oenone to Paris), though modern editors consider the couplet 151–52 spurious, and Letter 12 (Medea to Jason).[18]

78 Leave a comment on paragraph 78 0 (vi) Sil. 2, 422: ipsa pyram super ingentem stans saucia Dido (‘wounded Dido herself standing on top of an enormous pyre…’)

79 Leave a comment on paragraph 79 0 Sil. = Silius Italicus (c. 28–103 AD)

80 Leave a comment on paragraph 80 0 2, 422 = The reference is to Book 2, verse 422 of his epic poem Punica. Silius’ theme is the Second Punic War, with a special focus on the two generals Hannibal and Scipio Africanus.

81 Leave a comment on paragraph 81 0 As it turns out, then, Pease instructs us to look (selectively, to be sure) at nothing less than the entire history of Latin literature from archaic times (Ennius) till the imperial age (Silius). His passages come from more than two centuries worth of Latin poetry. Some of his authors preceded Virgil (Ennius, Catullus, Lucretius); some were his contemporaries (Tibullus, Ovid); one came after (Silius Italicus). With reference to the second category, it is unclear whether the texts by Tibullus and Ovid were already in circulation by the time Virgil wrote the opening line of Aeneid 4—which complicates any argument about influence either way. The generic spectrum is equally impressive: Pease’s passages come from tragedy, neoteric epyllion, didactic poetry, love elegy, fictional letters, and epic. These are already interesting results: the survey of authors and texts shows that Virgil shared his idiom of erotic passion with other poets across a wide chronological and generic range. But there is more to be discovered. Determined intertextualists will sleuth a bit further.

82 Leave a comment on paragraph 82 0 Step 2: Check out the texts

83 Leave a comment on paragraph 83 0 (i) Ennius: The line from Ennius’ tragedy Medea, which is a Latin adaptation of Euripides’ Medea, comes from the famous proem in which Medea’s nurse laments the voyage of the Argo and the mission of the Argonauts to bring the Golden Fleece to Greece. It ended up in disaster for her mistress (Ennius, fr. 208–16 Jocelyn):[19]

84 Leave a comment on paragraph 84 0 utinam ne in nemore Pelio securibus

85 Leave a comment on paragraph 85 0 caesa accidisset abiegna ad terram trabes,

86 Leave a comment on paragraph 86 0 neue inde nauis inchoandi exordium

87 Leave a comment on paragraph 87 0 cepisset, quae nunc nominatur nomine

88 Leave a comment on paragraph 88 0 Argo, quia Argiui in ea delecti uiri

89 Leave a comment on paragraph 89 0 uecti petebant pellem inauratam arietis

90 Leave a comment on paragraph 90 0 Colchis, imperio regis Peliae, per dolum.

91 Leave a comment on paragraph 91 0 nam numquam era errans mea domo efferret pedem

92 Leave a comment on paragraph 92 0 Medea animo aegro amore saeuo saucia

93 Leave a comment on paragraph 93 0 [If only in Pelion’s woods the firewood timbers, cut down by axes, had not fallen to the ground and from there the undertaking had not begun to begin the ship, which now is named Argo, because sailing in it chosen Argive men were seeking the golden fleece of the ram from the Colchians, at the command of King Pelias, through guile. For then never would my mistress, misguided, have set foot away from home—Medea sick at heart, wounded by savage love.]

93 Leave a comment on paragraph 93 0 (ii) Catullus: carmen 64 is an epyllion on the marriage of Peleus and Thetis, including an extended ecphrasis (‘the description of an image in words’) of the figure of Ariadne, shortly after she had been abandoned by Theseus (64.249–50):

94 Leave a comment on paragraph 94 0 quae tum aspectans cedentem maesta carinam
multiplices animo volvebat saucia curas

95 Leave a comment on paragraph 95 0 [She meanwhile, gazing sadly out at the departing ship, kept turning over in her heart her manifold worries, stricken.]

95 Leave a comment on paragraph 95 0 (iii) Lucretius: in his didactic epic De Rerum Natura, Lucretius gives an account of the world from the point of view of Epicurean physics, which includes a diatribe against the foolishness of love as opposed to the (intensely pleasurable) physics of sex. Our line comes from a passage where Lucretius describes the physiology of sexual desire at the onset of puberty. After some comments on wet dreams (1030–36), he moves on to what amounts to the first surviving description of an erection and ejaculation in Latin (4.1037–48):[20]

96 Leave a comment on paragraph 96 0 Sollicitatur id <in> nobis, quod diximus ante,

97 Leave a comment on paragraph 97 0 semen, adulta aetas cum primum roborat artus.

98 Leave a comment on paragraph 98 0 namque alias aliud res commovet atque lacessit;

99 Leave a comment on paragraph 99 0 ex homine humanum semen ciet una hominis vis. 1040

100 Leave a comment on paragraph 100 0 quod simul atque suis eiectum sedibus exit,

101 Leave a comment on paragraph 101 0 per membra atque artus decedit corpore toto

102 Leave a comment on paragraph 102 0 in loca conveniens nervorum certa cietque

103 Leave a comment on paragraph 103 0 continuo partis genitalis corporis ipsas.

104 Leave a comment on paragraph 104 0 irritata tument loca semine fitque voluntas 1045

105 Leave a comment on paragraph 105 0 eicere id quo se contendit dira libido, 1046

106 Leave a comment on paragraph 106 0 idque petit corpus, mens unde est saucia amore. 1048

107 Leave a comment on paragraph 107 0 [That seed is stirred in us whereof I spoke before, when first the age of manhood strengthens our limbs. For one cause moves and rouses one thing, a different cause another; from a human being only a human’s influence stirs human seed. And as soon as it issues, roused from its abode, it makes its way from out the whole body through the limbs and frame, coming together into fixed places, and straightway rouses at last the reproductive parts of the body; these places are stirred and swell with seed and there arises the desire to expel the seed towards the object to which fierce passion is moved and the body seeks that body, by which the mind is smitten with love.]

107 Leave a comment on paragraph 107 0 In his commentary on the passage, R. D. Brown postulates that with the ‘trenchant phrase’ saucia amore Lucretius recalls the fragment from Ennius’ Medea that we just considered but at the same time ‘pointedly applies the image to love in general rather than to tragic or unrequited love, which is its usual application.’[21] In what is otherwise a passage characterized by an arch-clinical tone, the poetic metaphor provides an unexpected climax to the account of the physiological processes triggered by sexual desire. Lucretius’ purpose is to cure the mind from love—and his sly reuse of tragic diction is a pointed reminder that what is, from his point of view, romantic rubbish, can have dire consequences.

108 Leave a comment on paragraph 108 0 (iv) Tibullus: Elegy 2.5, designed as a hymn to Apollo, celebrates the induction of the son of Tibullus’ patron Messalla into the priesthood responsible for the preservation and exegesis of the Sibylline Books, the so-called quindecimuiri sacris faciundis. The poem includes quotations from a prophecy by the Sibyl, in which she foretells the story of Rome. The subject matter, then, could not be more Virgilian, and the Aeneid beckons in the background of this poem, even though chronological difficulties arise. As Maltby explains: ‘The arrival of Aeneas in Italy and the early origins of Rome were of course also the subject of Virgil’s epic poem, the Aeneid. This was not published in its final form until 16 BC, three years after Virgil’s death. Tib. is known to have died shortly after Virgil and certainly before 16 BC … Similarities between the two treatments nevertheless suggest that Tib. could have heard pre-publication recitations of parts of the work.’[22] In essence, the work is a version of the story of Aeneas from the point of view of elegy and written for someone who did not belong to the circle around Augustus and his ‘patron of the arts’ Maecenas. Dido does not make an appearance, even though Tibullus refers to ‘resolute Aeneas’ as ‘flitting Love’s brother’ (39–40: Impiger Aenea, uolitantis frater Amoris,/ Troica qui profugis sacra uehis ratibus…. ; ‘Flitting Love’s brother, resolute Aeneas, whose nomadic boat transported Trojan relics…’).[23] And towards the end of the poem, Tibullus makes a pitch for general disarmament, in which our phrase occurs (2.5.105–10):[24]

109 Leave a comment on paragraph 109 0 pace tua pereant arcus pereantque sagittae,

110 Leave a comment on paragraph 110 0 Phoebe, modo in terris erret inermis Amor.

111 Leave a comment on paragraph 111 0 ars bona: sed postquam sumpsit sibi tela Cupido,

112 Leave a comment on paragraph 112 0 eu heu quam multis ars dedit ista malum!

113 Leave a comment on paragraph 113 0 et mihi praecipue, iaceo cum saucius annum

114 Leave a comment on paragraph 114 0 et (faueo morbo cum iuuat ipse dolor).

115 Leave a comment on paragraph 115 0 [With your consent may bows be banned and arrows banned,

116 Leave a comment on paragraph 116 0 Phoebus, so Love may wander Earth unarmed.

117 Leave a comment on paragraph 117 0 Skill’s fine, but after Cupid took up arms himself,

118 Leave a comment on paragraph 118 0 alas that skill produced such punishment—

119 Leave a comment on paragraph 119 0 and mostly mine—while wounded I have lain a year

120 Leave a comment on paragraph 120 0 and clung to sickness while my pain was joy.]

120 Leave a comment on paragraph 120 0 (vi) Ovid: I’ll set aside the passage from Letter 5 as most likely an interpolation. Conversely, for his Letter 12 from Medea to Jason, Ovid has picked a critical moment: when penning the epistle Medea has already been ditched by Jason, so he could marry Creusa, the daughter of king Creon of Corinth, but has not yet committed infanticide. In our passage, Medea recalls how she felt about the Greek hero after the meeting in which Aeëtes has challenged Jason to embark upon a mission impossible to secure the golden fleece, much to the grief of his daughter (Heroides 12.55–58):[25]

121 Leave a comment on paragraph 121 0 quam tibi tunc longe regnum dotale Creusae

122 Leave a comment on paragraph 122 0 et socer et magni nata Creontis erat!

123 Leave a comment on paragraph 123 0 tristis abis; oculis abeuntem prosequor udis,

124 Leave a comment on paragraph 124 0 et dixit tenui murmure lingua: ‘uale!’

125 Leave a comment on paragraph 125 0 ut positum tetigi thalamo male saucia lectum,

126 Leave a comment on paragraph 126 0 acta est per lacrimas nox mihi, quanta fuit.

127 Leave a comment on paragraph 127 0 [How far away then from your thought were Creusa’s dowry-realm, and the daughter of great Creon, and Creon the father of your bride! With foreboding you depart; and as you go my moist eyes follow you, and in faint murmur comes from my tongue: ‘Fare well!’ Laying myself on the ordered couch within my chamber, grievously wounded, in tears I passed the whole night long.]

127 Leave a comment on paragraph 127 0 In intertextual terms, this passage gestures to both Medea’s youthful past (as recounted by Apollonius Rhodius in Argonautica 3) and her criminal future (as dramatized by Euripides in his tragedy Medea, a play in which she visits gruesome retribution on Jason, Creusa and Creon). As such, it bears a striking resemblance to the situation of Dido at the opening of Aeneid 4: she, too, is rendered sleepless by love (like the youthful Medea of Apollonius), but will soon turn her mind to exacting revenge along the lines of the mature Euripidean Medea.

128 Leave a comment on paragraph 128 0 (vii) Finally, Silius Italicus. The passage comes from the description of the ‘Shield of Hannibal’, which is modelled on Virgil’s description of the Shield of Aeneas in Aeneid 8 and contains, among other things, a rewrite of Aeneid 4—from a Carthaginian point of view! (Silius Italicus, Punica 2.406–25):[26]

129 Leave a comment on paragraph 129 0 Condebat primae Dido Carthaginis arces,

130 Leave a comment on paragraph 130 0 instabatque operi subducta classe iuventus.

131 Leave a comment on paragraph 131 0 molibus hi claudunt portus, his tecta domosque

132 Leave a comment on paragraph 132 0 partiris, iustae Bitia venerande senectae.

133 Leave a comment on paragraph 133 0 ostentant caput effossa tellure repertum 410

134 Leave a comment on paragraph 134 0 bellatoris equi atque omen clamore salutant.

135 Leave a comment on paragraph 135 0 has inter species orbatum classe suisque

136 Leave a comment on paragraph 136 0 Aenean pulsum pelago dextraque precantem

137 Leave a comment on paragraph 137 0 cernere erat. fronte hunc avide regina serena

138 Leave a comment on paragraph 138 0 infelix ac iam vultu spectabat amico. 415

139 Leave a comment on paragraph 139 0 hinc et speluncam furtivaque foedera amantum

140 Leave a comment on paragraph 140 0 Callaicae fecere manus; it clamor ad auras

141 Leave a comment on paragraph 141 0 latratusque canum, subitoque exterrita nimbo

142 Leave a comment on paragraph 142 0 occultant alae venantum corpora silvis.

143 Leave a comment on paragraph 143 0 nec procul Aeneadum vacuo iam litore classis 420

144 Leave a comment on paragraph 144 0 aequora nequicquam revocante petebat Elissa.

145 Leave a comment on paragraph 145 0 ipsa, pyram super ingentem stans, saucia Dido

146 Leave a comment on paragraph 146 0 mandabat Tyriis ultricia bella futuris;

147 Leave a comment on paragraph 147 0 ardentemque rogum media spectabat ab unda

148 Leave a comment on paragraph 148 0 Dardanus et magnis pandebat carbasa fatis. 425

149 Leave a comment on paragraph 149 0 [Dido was shown building the city of infant Carthage; her men had beached their ships and were busily engaged. Some were enclosing a harbour with piers; to others dwellings were assigned by Bitias, a righteous and venerable old man. Men pointed to the head of a warhorse which they had found in the soil when digging, and hailed the omen with a shout. Amid these scenes Aeneas was shown, robbed of his ships and men and cast up by the sea; with his right hand he made supplication. The hapless queen looked eagerly upon him with unclouded brow and with looks already friendly. Next, the art of Gallicia had fashioned the cave and the secret tryst of the lovers; high rose the shouting and the baying of hounds; and the mounted huntsmen, alarmed by a sudden rainfall, took shelter in the forest. Not far away, the fleet of the Aeneadae had left the shore and was making for the open sea, while Elissa was calling them back in vain. Then Dido by herself was standing wounded on a huge pyre, and charging a later generation of Tyrians to avenge her by war; and the Dardan, out at sea, was watching the blazing pile and spreading his sails for his high destiny.]

149 Leave a comment on paragraph 149 0 Visiting the works from which Pease gleaned his parallels produces pleasing results: all have some pertinence for our appreciation of the figure of Dido in Aeneid 4. Several of the texts employ the image of being stricken by love with reference to an abandoned heroine (Medea in the case of Ennius and Ovid, Ariadne in the case of Catullus), whose mythic CV boast striking parallels to that of Dido. The exceptions are Lucretius (but he at least gestures to Ennius’ Medea by his use of tragic idiom) and Tibullus (who applies the image to his own, elegiac self in what emerges as an act of intertextual emasculation, in light of the fact that the metaphor elsewhere applies to women). In a final step, we can now ask what each of these authors may contribute to our appreciation of Aeneid 4 if we elevate them to the status of voices in or on Virgil’s poetry.

150 Leave a comment on paragraph 150 0 Step 3: Interpret the texts as being in dialogue with one another

151 Leave a comment on paragraph 151 0 What do we gain by ‘activating’ Virgil’s predecessors Ennius, Catullus, and Lucretius in our reading of Aeneid 4.1–2? We can formulate this question in terms of authorial intent, assuming that Virgil alludes to all three passages. (This is tantamount to saying that he would like to encourage his audience (us) to read his text with these earlier passages in mind.) But we don’t have to. We can pose the question without the need to posit authorial intent by asking, simply, whether our understanding of Virgil’s text is enriched if we recall comparable uses of saucius as a term to signify ‘stricken with love’ in earlier authors. And if we approach this question from our perspective as readers, we can easily extend our intertextual range to Virgil’s contemporaries and successors as well. Virgil himself could not have alluded to them, of course, but their poetry may nevertheless help to illuminate his, not least because they may allude to him and thereby offer a comment on the Aeneid.

152 Leave a comment on paragraph 152 0 Now as we have seen in the first half of this essay, Virgil models the opening of Aeneid 4 on Apollonius Rhodius’ treatment of Medea in Book 3 of his epic Argonautica. An allusion to the opening of Ennius’ tragedy Medea would thus strengthen the presence of this mythic figure in the opening verses and reinforce the sense that Virgil assimilates Dido to Medea. She is (as it were) present, via Apollonius, in her epic incarnation as a youthful maiden madly in love and, via Ennius, in her tragic incarnation as a bitter and abandoned wife, full of hatred and set on revenge. The double allusion thus elegantly and with supreme economy prefigures what will happen to Dido in the course of Aeneid 4. Just like Medea, she will turn from someone smitten in love under the compulsion of Eros/ Cupid into a disillusioned femme fatale out to exact retribution from the lover who dumped her. The implications are ominous. Suddenly, the prospect of murder is in the air. Medea, after all, first slaughtered her brother to aid the escape of the Argonauts from Colchis and then, once her relationship with Jason soured, the children they had in common. It is significant (and strengthens the case of an allusion to Ennius at the outset of the book) that Dido moots precisely such atrocities as a missed opportunity later on (Aeneid 4.600–02):

153 Leave a comment on paragraph 153 0 non potui abreptum diuellere corpus et undis

154 Leave a comment on paragraph 154 0 spargere? non socios, non ipsum absumere ferro

155 Leave a comment on paragraph 155 0 Ascanium patriisque epulandum ponere mensis?

156 Leave a comment on paragraph 156 0 [Could I not have seized him, torn him limb from limb, and scattered the pieces on the waves? Could I not have put his comrades to the sword, and Ascanius himself, and served him up as a meal at his father’s table?]

156 Leave a comment on paragraph 156 0 The sparagmos of Aeneas that Dido here envisages evokes Medea’s murder and dismemberment of her brother Apsyrtus (as well as sparagmoi from tragedy, such as that of Pentheus by his mother Agave and her fellow maenads). Notoriously Medea threw the skewered limbs of Apsyrtus into the sea bit by gory bit on the Argonauts homeward journey to slow down the pursuers. The most prominent model here is Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 4. The murder of Ascanius that Dido here imagines recalls Euripides’ and Ennius’ Medea, who killed her children by Jason in an act of vengeance—like another homicidal mother of Greek myth, Procne, who serves as mythic model for the final brutality: Procne slaughtered her son Itys and dished him up to his father Tereus, to avenge the rape her husband had perpetrated on her sister Philomela. An allusion to Medea’s criminal record as archived in Apollonius, Euripides, and Ennius at the beginning of Aeneid 4 thus emerges as a programmatic invocation of a mythic role-model for Dido that later in the book finds more explicit recognition.

157 Leave a comment on paragraph 157 0 The reference to the epic and tragic Medea built into the opening lines of Aeneid 4 thus functions like an intertextual risk alert, putting the reader on guard that the love plot may take a tragic, even murderous turn. The allusion to Catullus 64 works in similar fashion. Again, we are pointed to a heroine, Ariadne, whose story evinces intriguing points of contact with that of Dido. But if we recall Catullus 64.249–50 when reading Aeneid 4.1–2 we get an instant glimpse not of how it could end (as with Medea) but how it actually will end. Catullus here describes Ariadne gazing after the departing ships of her former lover Theseus, whom she once rescued from mortal danger. This of course is exactly the situation Dido will find herself in towards the end of Aeneid 4. And we may recall that Ariadne in Catullus 64 sends a vicious curse after Theseus as punishment for his treachery (189–201), which, like the curse Dido calls down on Aeneas, turns out to be efficacious, resulting in the death of his father Aegeus. Again, an allusion to Catullus 64 and the figure of Ariadne at the outset of Aeneid 4 foreshadows the terms of the book’s tragic end and its unfortunate consequences.

158 Leave a comment on paragraph 158 0 Via Ennius and Catullus, then, we can add the tragic figures of Medea and Ariadne to the host of intertextual ghosts from Greek and Latin literature that haunt Virgil’s figure of Dido. They join Calypso, Nausikaa, and Circe from the Odyssey, the youthful epic Medea of Apollonius Rhodius’ Argonautica, and the historical Queen Berenice (from Callimachus via Catullus) as well as her distant ancestor Cleopatra as points of comparison and contrast. And we may well put Dido in front of further intertextual mirrors. As Alessandro Schiesaro puts it:[27]

159 Leave a comment on paragraph 159 0 More space for Euripides’ Medea among Dido’s intertextual ancestors is surely needed. But there are in fact more than two texts at stake: if Dido’s (literary) family-tree is to be investigated thoroughly in search of connections with Medea, both ascendants and descendants must be included. As we have seen, it is important both to analyze the Medeas who offer Dido a model—Euripides’, Apollonius’, Ennius’—and those who recognize Dido as a model, Seneca’s, but especially Ovid’s (nor should Hosidius Geta and Dracontius be ignored). The heuristic value of this retroactive form of intertextuality will be no less noteworthy, for it may well show that such exceptional readers of Virgil were disposed to acknowledge the similarities between the two characters.

160 Leave a comment on paragraph 160 0 Seneca (c. 4 BC–AD 65), Hosidius Geta (late 2nd-early 3rd century AD), and Dracontius (c. 455–c. 505) all composed plays or poems about Medea, but did so with explicit or implicit reference to Virgil’s Dido, offering a retrospective commentary—a tradition that begins in earnest with Ovid’s Heroides.

161 Leave a comment on paragraph 161 0 The same applies to Tibullus 2.5 and, especially, Silius Italicus. On the level of diction, his line ipsa, pyram super ingentem stans, saucia Dido (‘Then Dido by herself was standing wounded on a huge pyre’) refers to Virgil’s metaphorical use of saucius in the opening line of Aeneid 4; but the scene depicted on Hannibal’s Shield comes from the end of Aeneid 4, when Dido is also literally wounded. Silius thus neatly captures, in one line, the programmatic transformation of metaphor into reality, of mythic love into historical hatred, that unfolds in the course of Virgil’s epic. Pointedly, he inscribes a re-run of the entire Dido episode on the shield of Hannibal, the nameless avenger whom Dido conjures in a horrifying curse before committing suicide. Silius’ Punica thus emerges as the sequel to the Aeneid, along the lines of The Empire Strikes Back. And just as Hannibal challenges the descendants of Aeneas on the historical battlefield, Silius throws down the gauntlet to Virgil in the arena of epic poetry. (We all know, of course, which city ultimately ended up in ashes and which poet has retained a stranglehold on school syllabuses—but Hannibal gave the Romans a good innings…)

162 Leave a comment on paragraph 162 0 Lucretius, finally, works differently. If we want to activate the wider context in which he uses saucius in the De Rerum Natura, one could argue that the opening line of Aeneid 4, read intertextually with Lucretius, points to the fatal dynamic of love which culminates in the sexual encounter in the cave. Yet perhaps more importantly, he offers an ‘alternative voice’: Epicurean philosophy offers a ‘scientific’ explanation of love and sex, designed to help us combat irrational desires and emotions (as opposed to the natural enjoyment of sex and the impulse to procreate)—in other words, an antidote to the experience at the very heart of the lives of Ennius’ Medea, Catullus’ Ariadne, and Virgil’s Dido (among others). But it is an alternative voice, evoked, it seems, only to be silenced as irrelevant.

163 Leave a comment on paragraph 163 0 I have not even begun to explore all possible variations. Whatever we make of this symphony of allusions (if allusions they are), of further voices and interpretive possibilities, the foregoing should have illustrated that Virgil’s Aeneid exists within a wider literary universe. His poetry invites rides on the intertextual roller-coaster, which, it is true, can have a dizzying effect. At times it becomes difficult to know when to stop, and after a few rounds of heady exhilaration that sick feeling in the stomach kicks in when one has gone a loop too far. So let’s break right here (for now) before we spin entirely out of control…

164 Leave a comment on paragraph 164 0  


165 Leave a comment on paragraph 165 0 [1]
This quotation and the next come from the opening paragraph of S. Hinds, Allusion and Intertext. Dynamics of Appropriation in Roman Poetry (Cambridge, 1998), p. xi. It is an excellent (if demanding) exploration of the topic of this essay.

166 Leave a comment on paragraph 166 0  

167 Leave a comment on paragraph 167 0 [2]
D. Feeney, Literature and Religion at Rome: Cultures, Contexts, and Beliefs (Cambridge, 1998), p. 53—another highly recommended book, not least for its ability to render difficult subject matter accessible and entertaining.

168 Leave a comment on paragraph 168 0  

169 Leave a comment on paragraph 169 0 [3]
For a pre-publication write-up see Propertius 2.34.65–6: cedite, Romani scriptores, cedite, Grai!/ nescio quid maius nascitur Iliade (‘Make way, Roman writers, make way, Greeks! Something greater than the Iliad is being born’). For Virgil’s epic successors (and their struggle to step out from under the overpowering shadow of Virgil’s achievement) see the stellar study by P. Hardie, The Epic Successors of Virgil: A Study in the Dynamics of a Tradition (Cambridge, 1993).

170 Leave a comment on paragraph 170 0  

171 Leave a comment on paragraph 171 0 [4]
The opening of the Odyssey starts paving the way for Virgil’s subjective stance. It begins Ἄνδρα µοι ἔννεπε, Μοῦσα, i.e. ‘Tell me, Muse, of the man…’.

172 Leave a comment on paragraph 172 0  

173 Leave a comment on paragraph 173 0 [5]
See further above Commentary on 4.258.

174 Leave a comment on paragraph 174 0  

175 Leave a comment on paragraph 175 0 [6]
See further above Commentary on 4.149.

176 Leave a comment on paragraph 176 0  

177 Leave a comment on paragraph 177 0 [7]
Scholarly opinion is divided: see the commentary ad locum for details and further discussion.

178 Leave a comment on paragraph 178 0  

179 Leave a comment on paragraph 179 0 [8]
For a highly stimulating treatment see Hardie (1997).

180 Leave a comment on paragraph 180 0  

181 Leave a comment on paragraph 181 0 [9]
See Servius on Aeneid 4: Apollonius Argonautica scripsit et in tertio inducit amantem Medeam; inde totus hic liber translatus est.

182 Leave a comment on paragraph 182 0  

183 Leave a comment on paragraph 183 0 [10]
Hardie (2006), p. 35, with reference to Wills (1998), pp. 289–90.

184 Leave a comment on paragraph 184 0  

185 Leave a comment on paragraph 185 0 [11]
I cite the text and translation (slightly adjusted) of J. Godwin, Catullus, Poems 61–68, edited with introduction, translation and commentary, (Warminster, 1995).

186 Leave a comment on paragraph 186 0  

189 Leave a comment on paragraph 189 0 [13]
Lyne (1994), p. 191. See already Skulsky (1985), p. 451.

190 Leave a comment on paragraph 190 0  

191 Leave a comment on paragraph 191 0 [14]
Skulsky (1985), p. 449. Note in this context that at Catullus 66.26 the Lock hails her former owner as magnanimam.

192 Leave a comment on paragraph 192 0  

193 Leave a comment on paragraph 193 0 [15]
See especially Hardie (1986) and (2009). I make extensive use of his work in the commentary, especially in the sections on Fama and Atlas.

194 Leave a comment on paragraph 194 0  

195 Leave a comment on paragraph 195 0 [16]
Some bibliography: see Goldberg (1995) on Livius Andronicus, Naevius, and, yes, Cicero; Horsfall (1990) on Dido in Naevius; Gildenhard (2007) on Virgil and Ennius; and the essays in Boyle (1993) for a full-scale survey of epic writing in Rome before and after Virgil.

196 Leave a comment on paragraph 196 0  

199 Leave a comment on paragraph 199 0 [18]
Ovid’s Heroides collection also includes a letter from Dido to Aeneas (7)—a brilliant take on Aeneid 4 from Dido’s point of view!

200 Leave a comment on paragraph 200 0  

201 Leave a comment on paragraph 201 0 [19]
This is the opening of the play. The high number of the fragment may hence surprise. It results from the fact that fragments are counted across plays, which Jocelyn arranges in alphabetical order from Achilles (1–10) to Thyestes (290–308) followed by the incerta (fragments that cannot be assigned to a specific play). The Medea fragments are 208–45 (and may come from two different plays).

202 Leave a comment on paragraph 202 0  

203 Leave a comment on paragraph 203 0 [20]
I cite the text and translation (slightly adjusted) of C. Bailey, Titi Lucreti Cari De Rerum Natura Libri Sex, edited with Prolegomena, Critical Apparatus, Translation, and Commentary, 3 vols (Oxford, 1947).

204 Leave a comment on paragraph 204 0  

205 Leave a comment on paragraph 205 0 [21]
R. D. Brown, Lucretius on Love and Sex. A Commentary on De Rerum Natura IV, 1030-1287 with Prolegomena, Text, and Translation (Leiden, 1987), p. 191.

206 Leave a comment on paragraph 206 0  

207 Leave a comment on paragraph 207 0 [22]
Maltby in the Oxford World’s Classics edition (see note 307), p. 120.

208 Leave a comment on paragraph 208 0  

209 Leave a comment on paragraph 209 0 [23]
Profugis perhaps presupposes knowledge of (a version) of the opening of the Aeneid. See 1.1–2: Arma uirumque cano, Troiae qui primus ab oris/ Italiam fato profugus Lauinaque uenit.

210 Leave a comment on paragraph 210 0  

211 Leave a comment on paragraph 211 0 [24]
I cite the text and translation of the brand new Oxford World’s Classics edition of Tibullus: Tibullus, Elegies, with Parallel Latin Text. A New Translation by A. M. Juster with an Introduction and Notes by Robert Maltby (Oxford, 2012).

212 Leave a comment on paragraph 212 0  

213 Leave a comment on paragraph 213 0 [25]
I cite text and translation (slightly modified) of the Loeb Classical Library edition: Ovid I: Heroides and Amores, trans. by G. Showerman, 2nd edn, rev. by G. P. Goold (Cambridge, MA, 1977).

214 Leave a comment on paragraph 214 0  

215 Leave a comment on paragraph 215 0 [26]
I cite and text and translation of J. D. Duff’s Loeb Edition: Silius Italicus, Punica, with an English Translation (Cambridge, MA, 1934).

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