Virgil: possible test questions
1. Bk I: 1-11 Invocation to the Muse
I sing of arms and the man, he who, exiled by fate,
first came from the coast of Troy to Italy, and to
Lavinian shores – hurled about endlessly by land and sea,
by the will of the gods, by cruel Juno’s remorseless anger, long suffering also in war, until he founded a city
and brought his gods to Latium: from that the Latin people
came, the lords of Alba Longa, the walls of noble Rome.
Muse, tell me the cause: how was she offended in her divinity, how was she grieved, the Queen of Heaven, to drive a man,
noted for virtue, to endure such dangers, to face so many
trials? Can there be such anger in the minds of the gods?
* Give a brief overview of the context of the passage.
* Explain the significance of the phrase “arms and the man”. What / who are the two themes referred to here? * Who is the speaker, whom does he address, and why?
* What is the reason for Juno’s remorseless anger? Who is the object of her anger? * Who is the man “noted for virtue” and why?
* How is this passage typical of epic poetry?
2. Bk I: 257-296 Jupiter’s Prophecy
‘Don’t be afraid, Cytherea, your child’s fate remains unaltered: You’ll see the city of Lavinium, and the walls I promised, and you’ll raise great-hearted Aeneas high, to the starry sky. …
But the boy Ascanius, surnamed Iulus now (He was Ilus
while the Ilian kingdom was a reality) will imperially
complete thirty great circles of the turning months.
From this glorious source a Trojan Caesar will be born,
who will bound the empire with Ocean, his fame with the stars, Augustus, a Julius, his name descended from the great Iulus. You, no longer anxious, will receive him one day in heaven,
burdened with Eastern spoils: he’ll be called to in prayer. Then with wars abandoned, the harsh ages will grow mild:
White haired Trust, and Vesta, Quirinus with his brother Remus will make the laws: the gates of War, grim...
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