Summary: Vergil’s Aeneid: A Poem of Grief and Love by Steven Farron
In this book, Steven Farron argues that Vergil’s “Aeneid”’s main purpose is to present a series of emotionally gripping episodes, not to praise or criticize Aeneas and his mission. In the first chapter, Farron talks about what is considered the “great glory of the Aeneid”: the Dido episode. He believes that the purpose of the episode was not to comment on anything else in the epic but rather to depict a tragic love and supports this claim by analyzing another love story in the Aeneid: Nisus and Euryalus. Farron and other critics such as W. Warde Fowler believed that since there is no obvious connection between the story of Nisus and Euryalus and Aeneas’ story, the actions of Nisus and Euryalus were to be important to the overall story. Nisus and Euryalus are two friends/lovers who serve under Aeneas who demonstrate their stealth and power as warriors but ultimately die an admirable, tragic death together. In Books 5 and 9 of the Aenied, their actions are considered immoral in ancient Roman standards but that is overshadowed by their loving devotion to each other. Apparently Vergil and his culture were fascinated by and had great admiration for romantic love therefore, the Aeneid is basically a poem of grief and love. In Book 5, Nisus trips Salius in a race so Euryalus can win. To Romans, this is a contemptible action but Euryalus is allowed to keep first prize because of his beauty and Nisus’ actions are justified since he was motivated by love for Euryalus. This episode shows Vergil’s tendency to identify psychologically with his characters (sympathy). Even analysis of the metrical patterns of the lines in episode confirms these conclusions. Apparently, passages which were “empathetic-sympathetic” had a lower proportion of dactyl spondee spondee spondee lines than the unemotional and objective portions. Again in Book 9, Nisus and Euryalus commit an immoral action which is overlooked when they...
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