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Virgil, Aeneid, 4.1–299


3. Study Questions

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Avant Propos: The Set Text and the Aeneid

  • 7 Cf. Henderson (2006), p. 13, n. 19, on Austin writing his Aeneid 1 commentary after his Aeneid 4 co (...)

11. Would you start reading a novel with Chapter 4? To what extent, do you think, will your understanding and appreciation of the set text be compromised if you do not read the first three books (in English) first? (As Henderson puts it: ‘Everyone should ask how come they’re starting with Chapter 4 of a book, who’s doing what to them this way...’)7

22. How does 4.1 – 299 fit into the epic as a whole? Explore, in particular, connections between Books 1 and 4. But you may also wish to consider how the ‘internal narrative’ in Aeneid 2 and 3, in which Aeneas recounts the fall of Troy (Book 2) and his subsequent travels (Book 3) to his Carthaginian hosts (in particular Dido) resonates in, and impacts on, the events that unfold in Aeneid 4. Dido continues to haunt the narrative even after her suicide: where in the poem does she reappear or make her presence felt?

33. Shortly before being washed ashore in Libya, Aeneas lost his father Anchises. (See his lament at 3.708 – 15, the last major event in the story of his adventures he recounts to Dido.) Can what happens between Dido and Aeneas in Book 4 be attributed to the hero’s recent loss of parental guidance?

44. What are the similarities, what the differences in the biographies of Dido and Aeneas before they meet each other? (Venus tells Aeneas/us about Dido’s history — or rather ‘her-story’— at 1.335 – 70.) In what ways do Dido and Aeneas form a ‘complementary couple’?

1 – 8: Sleepless in Carthage

55. The first word of Book 4 is the adversative particle at. Why does this surprise? What does Virgil achieve with this opening gambit?

66. The second word of Book 4 is the programmatic regina. What are the characteristics of a good monarch? Do the same criteria of excellence apply to kings and queens or is there a difference according to gender? To what extent is Dido’s royal status (and the attending civic responsibilities) part of Virgil’s characterization of the Carthaginian queen?

77. In monarchies today, too, potential tension between regal role-requirements and the quest for ‘true’ love and personal fulfilment is always there: compare Dido’s and Aeneas’s choices with the decision of Edward VIII to abdicate the throne so he could marry Wallis Simpson.

88. Scan the phrase regina graui iamdudum saucia cura (line 2) and analyse its design: how has Virgil arranged the nouns (regina, cura) and their attributes (graui, saucia)? What is the force of iamdudum and how does the word order enhance its effect?

99. Map out the situations in which a character feels cura in the Aeneid. (You can use the Concordance function at the University of Pennsylvania’s ‘Vergil Project’ (​) to search for further instances of the word.) What are the different types of cura we encounter in the poem? Try to develop a typology (erotic, political, human, divine, self-centred, civic-minded etc.).

1010. What type of ablative do you think uenis (2) is? Is it an ablative of place (‘in her bloodstreams’) or an ablative of instrument (‘with her bloodstreams’)? Do we need to decide? How does your sense of the grammar influence your interpretation of the text?

1111. In the phrases multa ... uirtus (3) and multus ... honos (4) Virgil uses adjectives instead of adverbs: what is the rhetorical effect?

1212. Virgil uses the two phrases multa uiri uirtus (3) and multus gentis honos (4) to specify why Dido swoons over Aeneas. Give the meaning of all four nouns with due consideration of their wider significance within Roman culture and explore the thematic affinities between the two nominatives (uirtus, honos) and the two genitives (uiri, gentis).

1313. Identify the two figures of speech Virgil uses in the phrase uiri uirtus.

1414. Discuss Virgil’s use of gens in the Aeneid: where does it occur for the first time? Where else? Why is it such a key term?

1515. What metaphors does Virgil use to describe Dido in the thralls of passion, both in the opening lines of Book 4 and elsewhere in Aeneid 1 and 4?

1616. In Virgil’s pathology of love, which of Dido’s symptoms refer to the body, which to the mind?

  • 8 Lyne (1987), p. 121.

1717. Is it possible to associate the different metaphors that Virgil uses of Dido in love with different emotional responses he meant to trigger in the audience? Oliver Lyne, for instance, submits that ‘wound imagery easily suggests sympathy. Wounds involve suffering, which we pity’, whereas ‘fire imagery is less sympathetic, potentially aggressive, and destructive’ and therefore concludes: ‘Vergil implies an antipathetic as well as a sympathetic aspect to Dido’s violently passionate love’.8 Do you agree?

  • 9 Love, while a seemingly universal phenomenon, manifests culturally specific inflections and therefo (...)

1818. Can you think of English expressions that are equivalent to Virgil’s erotic images? What are the conceptions of love — from infatuation with another person to outright sexual desire — that inform the metaphors? Are they all reconcilable with one another? How does what Dido experiences relate to our notion of ‘romantic love’?9

1919. In what ways are the opening lines both retrospective and prospective, that is, point back to what happened in Book 1 and point forward to what will happen in Book 4?

2020. As the narrative unfolds, words that Virgil here uses metaphorically of Dido in love recur with a literal meaning to portray Dido’s death: which ones are they?

2121. Why do the-e-and the-a in Phoeb-e-a (6) scan long?

2222. Discuss the verbal architecture of line 7: umentemque Aurora polo dimouerat umbram.

2323. Scan line 8 (cum sic unanimam adloquitur male sana sororem) and discuss the thematic implications of the metrical peculiarity.

9 – 30: Sister Act I: Dido’s Address to Anna

2424. Outline the structure of Dido’s speech. What devices does Virgil use to mark the different segments?

2525. Compare and contrast Virgil’s account of Dido’s condition in lines 1 – 8 with Dido’s own account in lines 9 – 30.

2626. Sketch the thought-process that Dido goes through while talking to her sister. Why does she burst out in tears when she has finally reached the decision not to act on her love for Aeneas?

2727. What, precisely, are the nightmarish visions (9: insomnia) that Dido says frighten her?

2828. armis (11) comes either from armus (‘shoulder’) or from arma (‘arms’). Which alternative do you prefer and why? Was Virgil perhaps deliberately ambiguous? If so, why?

2929. On what grounds does Dido believe in Aeneas’ divine lineage? (Cf. 12: credo equidem, nec uana fides, genus esse deorum.) Is her reasoning sound?

3030. Why is it a bit strange that Dido endorses the principle that fear betokens degeneracy (cf. 13: degeneres animos timor arguit!)?

3131. Lines 13 – 14 (heu, quibus ille/iactatus fatis! quae bella exhausta canebat!) feature several words that also occur in the proem (1.1 – 7). Which ones are they? And what is the effect of their recurrence here?

3232. What are the fata (cf. 14: fatis) that Dido refers to? Who is her source of information?

3333. Lines 15 – 19 contain one long conditional sequence. The protasis is made up of two si-clauses: si… sederet and si… pertaesum… fuisset. Discuss the switch in tense from imperfect subjunctive (sederet) to pluperfect subjunctive (pertaesum... fuisset).

3434. In line 17 (postquam primus amor deceptam morte fefellit), Dido mentions an earlier moment in her biography defined by the coincidence of love (amor) and death (mors). What is the significance of this thematic nexus for the plot of Aeneid 4?

3535. Discuss the seemingly ambiguous syntax of huic uni in line 19.

3636. What does the culpa consist in that Dido refers to (19)? How does Virgil’s use of the word here affect our reading of 172 (coniugium vocat; hoc praetexit nomine culpam)?

3737. What stylistic device does Virgil use in the phrase miseri post fata Sychaei/coniugis (20 – 1) and to what effect?

3838. Explain the subjunctives optem (24), dehiscat (24) and adigat (25).

3939. Analyse the verbal architecture of line 26: pallentis umbras Erebo noctemque profundam.

4040. What, exactly, does pudor mean (both in general and for Dido) and what are its iura? (27).

  • 10 Gutting (2006), pp. 269 – 70.

4141. In line 27 Dido addresses her pudor. According to one scholar, ‘the apostrophe distances pudor from her by turning it into another external force, which makes one wonder where her own pudor, previously a key internal attribute of her person, has gone’.10 Discuss.

4242. Explore the formal and thematic relationship between impulit (23) and abstulit (29).

4343. In what ways is the last word of Dido’s speech (29: sepulcro) programmatically significant?

31 – 53: Sister Act II: Anna’s Reply

4444. Outline the structure of Anna’s speech. What devices does Virgil use to mark the different segments?

4545. Identify the different arguments that Anna musters to convince Dido to give in to her feelings for Aeneas. What rhetorical devices does she use to make them sound compelling? Are they compelling? Does Anna truly understand her sister or the situation?

4646. Anna acts as Dido’s trusted confidant, but ends up giving her disastrous advice. At the same time, she faces the task of consoling and advising a sister who is dissolving in tears in front of her. What would your advice to Dido have looked like? Rewrite Anna’s speech accordingly.

4747. What type of ablative is luce (31)?

4848. Parse carpere in line 32. Where in Aeneid 4 have you encountered the verb already? Discuss possible relations between the two occurrences.

4949. How would you construe the genitive Veneris in line 33?

5050. Assess Anna’s suggestion that ‘the dead do not (or cannot) care about what the living do’ within the wider context of Book 4 and the Aeneid more generally. Is she correct? What is the presence of the dead in the world of the living in Virgil’s epic?

5151. In what sense is Africa a land rich in triumphs (37 – 8)?

5252. Place the people who threaten Carthage according to Anna (lines 40 – 3) on a map.

5353. How are we supposed to interpret Anna’s (blatantly erroneous) belief that the arrival of Aeneas at Carthage owes itself to the intervention of benevolent divinities, in particular Juno (45 – 6)?

5454. Discuss how Anna, on the formal level, relates Dido and Aeneas to Carthage in lines 47 – 9.

5555. Where else in Aeneid 4 does a character use winter as an untoward season for setting sail (cf. 52 – 3) as an argument?

5656. What type of ablative is pelago (52)?

54 – 89: ‘Crazy Little Thing Called Love’ (Queen)

5757. Manuscripts and commentators disagree which text to read in line 54. Possible options are: (a) his dictis incensum animum flammauit amore; (b) his dictis impenso animum flammauit amore; (c) his dictis incensum animum inflammauit amore. Which one do you prefer and why?

5858. Discuss the rhetorical design of lines 54 – 55, with special attention to the key nouns that Virgil brings into play (animus, amor, spes, mens, pudor).

5959. Anna and Dido sacrifice to Ceres, Apollo, Bacchus, and Juno (58 – 59). Why are these divinities singled out? Are any members of the Olympic pantheon conspicuous by their absence?

6060. Explain the datives cui and curae (59). What is the verb of the relative clause cui uincla iugalia curae?

  • 11 O’Hara (2011), p. 28.

6161. ‘Dido does not learn from the sacrifices that her love for Aeneas is going to lead to a bad end.’11 Do you agree or disagree? Justify your position.

6262. Identify lexical and thematic parallels between the description of the sacrifices in lines 60 – 64 and the description of love-sick Dido in lines 66 – 67. What is their significance?

6363. Discuss Dido’s religious efforts against your knowledge of Rome’s civic religion: what is the overall atmosphere generated by Virgil’s description?

6464. Ponder the aut at the beginning of 62: what is its thematic effect?

6565. Scholarly opinion is divided on what type of genitive uatum is, in the phrase uatum ignarae mentes (65): is it (a) a possessive genitive depending on mentes (‘the ignorant minds of seers’) or (b) an objective genitive depending on ignarae (‘minds ignorant of the seers’)? Give reasons for your preference.

6666. quid uota furentem,/quid delubra iuuant? (65 – 6): Why do vows and temples fail to benefit Dido? What does Virgil convey by portraying Dido as furens? Where else does he use this word or words that are etymologically related?

6767. Parse est in line 66.

6868. Identify the lexical and thematic reminiscences of 4.1 – 5 in lines 66 – 67: est mollis flamma medullas/interea et tacitum uiuit sub pectore uulnus. What is the dramatic effect of the repetitions?

6969. Discuss the correspondences (both in terms of similarities and differences) between the ‘stricken-hind’ simile and the surrounding narrative. Does the implicit commentary on Dido’s tragic love for Aeneas that is built into the simile reflect well or badly on Dido and Aeneas? Who comes off better?

  • 12 Austin (1963), p. 45.

7070. Austin claims that the pastor did not mean to shoot the hind: ‘coniecta implies simply the act of shooting; the creature has not been aimed at’.12 Agree or disagree, with reasons.

7171. Why has Virgil situated the incident of the wounded hind on Mt. Dicte on Crete?

7272. Of what is the shepherd nescius (72)?

7373. Discuss the design of the clause haeret lateri letalis harundo (73).

7474. Compare and contrast the advice Anna gives to her sister to detain Aeneas in lines 50 – 53 with Dido’s actions in lines 74 – 85.

7575. Analyse the overall syntax and rhetorical design of lines 74 – 79, with particular attention to the anaphora of nunc (74, 77).

7676. Consider how Virgil places the underlined words in verse 76: incipit effari, mediaque in uoce resistit.

7777. Parse narrantis (79).

7878. What formal features in the phrase suadentque cadentia sidera somnos (81) reinforce its contents, i.e. the inducement of sleep?

7979. Analyse the rhetorical design of illum absens absentem auditque uidetque (83).

8080. What does the clause infandum si fallere possit amorem (85) mean, precisely?

8181. Discuss the images Virgil uses to capture the effects of ‘Dido in love’on her city-building project in lines 86 – 89. (You may wish to draw the abandoned construction site, in an attempt to visualize what Virgil conveys in words.)

90 – 128: Love and Marriage, or: A Match Made in Heaven

8282. Where does Juno come from, all of sudden? When did she last make an appearance in the narrative? How does Virgil re-introduce her?

8383. Explain the syntax of Quam (90) and famam (91).

8484. What does tali... peste (90) mean?

8585. Discuss the design of 92: talibus adgreditur Venerem Saturnia dictis.

8686. Analyse the structure and tone of Juno’s first speech (93 – 104).

8787. How does Juno portray Venus and Cupid respectively in line 94?

8888. In line 95, Juno specifies three reasons why the victory of Venus and Cupid over Dido is cheap: what are they? And how does Juno stylistically reinforce her accusation that Venus and her son performed an unsporting knock-out?

8989. Explain the syntax of me and te in line 96.

9090. The phrase Karthaginis altae (97), preceded by moenia (96), arguably recalls the concluding phrase of the proem, i.e. altae moenia Romae (1.7). What is the effect of this re-use of idiom from the opening of the epic here?

9191. Juno asks Venus quo nunc certamine tanto? (98). This is arguably a good question: what in the world was Venus thinking when she decided to make Dido fall hopelessly in love with her hero? What is the point of driving the queen insane with passion? Is this really aiding Aeneas and his mission? Explore, with arguments.

9292. On the face of it, the conditions that Juno offers Venus — joint rule of Carthage on equal terms (102 – 03) — seem attractive. But is what she proposes a plausible mode of government? Would you have entered into such an arrangement?

9393. Identify the ways in which Juno insults Aeneas in lines 103 – 4. Why does she adopt the seemingly counterproductive strategy of spewing billingsgate at the offspring of the goddess with whom she wishes to strike up a partnership?

9494. Explain the syntax of locutam (105).

9595. Outline the structure of Venus’ speech (107 – 114).

9696. Parse abnuat and malit (108) as well as sequatur (109) and explore the syntax of sed fatis incerta feror (110).

9797. What forms of socio-political organisation does Venus invoke with the phrases misceri populos and foedera iungi (112)?

9898. Why is it funny that Venus appeals to fas (113)?

9999. Outline the structure of Juno’s second speech (115 – 27). Then deliver it (either by reciting Virgil’s hexameter or in an English adaptation). Give special attention to impersonating Juno’s royal and superior demeanour, without neglecting the fact that Juno is here trying to win over Venus to her plan.

100100. Parse uenatum (117).

101101. Why does Juno call Dido miserrima (117)?

102102. How does the design of lines 120 – 22 reinforce the theme of a sudden storm of hail and thunder?

103103. Analyse the design of 124 – 25: speluncam Dido dux et Troianus eandem/deuenient, paying special attention to the implications of the postponed et.

104104. Why does Venus smile in reaction to Juno’s speech (128:... dolis risit Cytherea repertis)?

129 – 172: The Hunting Party

105105. 129 – 72 recount the events that Juno had anticipated in 117 – 27: compare and contrast the divine plan with how it unfolds.

106106. Who is the goddess Aurora (129: Oceanum interea surgens Aurora reliquit) and where else does Virgil mention her in Aeneid 4? Do the various instances add up to a pattern?

107107. What are the formal means Virgil uses in lines 130 – 32 to enhance the sense of excitement felt by the party setting out for the hunt?

108108. The rest of the hunting party is ready to go, but everyone is waiting for dallying Dido (133 – 35: reginam... cunctantem): what is taking her so long?

109109. Why is the phrase stat sonipes (135; of Dido’s horse) paradoxical and potentially funny?

110110. Compare and contrast Dido’s entry at 4.136 – 37: tandem progreditur magna stipante caterua/Sidoniam picto chlamydem circumdata limbo with her earlier entry at 1.496 – 97: regina ad templum, forma pulcherrima Dido,/incessit, magna iuuenum stipante caterua (‘The queen, Dido, of surpassing beauty, approached the temple, with a larger throng of youths crowding around her’).

111111. In lines 138 – 39, Virgil uses ‘gold’ or ‘golden’ three times: ex auro, in aurum, aurea... fibula. How do you call the figure of speech, in which the same word recurs in different cases? What are the thematic implications of Virgil’s use of the device here?

112112. 140: nec non — what is this rhetorical device called?

113113. Why does Virgil underscore the outstanding beauty of Aeneas (141 – 42: ante alios pulcherrimus omnis... Aeneas)?

114114. What are the points of contact between the simile of Apollo (143 – 49) and the surrounding narrative?

115115. Apollo is depicted as leaving Lycia in winter (143 – 44: hibernam Lyciam... deserit). Why might the indication of the season be significant? Who else is on the move during this time of the year?

116116. Lines 145 – 46 feature four -que (mixtique, Cretesque, Dryopesque, pictique): what words do they link, respectively?

117117. Apollo seems to care a lot about his hair (147 – 48: mollique fluentem/fronde premit crinem fingens atque implicat auro). Try to draw his hairdo — and ponder the gender-connotations of Virgil’s idiom.

118118. Line 149 (tela sonant umeris) introduces a sharp shift in tone, from the cosmetic obsession with hair to Apollo’s deadly weaponry. To what extent does the ‘soft/tough’ image of Apollo in the simile match the character and the role of Aeneas?

119119. What type of ablative is illo (149)?

120120. Identify the three elisions in line 151: postquam altos uentum in montis atque inuia lustra. Why are they thematically appropriate?

121121. Analyse the balance of symmetry and movement that Virgil has built into the syntactical and metrical design of 152 – 53: ferae saxi deiectae uertice caprae/decurrere iugis.

122122. Scan lines 153b – 55 and relate meter to theme:

alia de parte patentis
transmittunt cursu campos atque agmina cerui
puluerulenta fuga glomerant montisque relinquunt.

123123. Identify the main features in the character-portrayal of Ascanius built into lines 156 – 59.

124124. Analyse the ‘sound-picture’ Virgil generates in lines 160 – 61: Interea magno misceri murmure caelum/incipit, insequitur commixta grandine nimbus.

125125. How does Virgil’s word order reflect the impact of the storm on the hunting party in lines 162 – 64?

126126. What happens in the cave (166 – 68)? Do Dido and Aeneas emerge as a married couple? Does Virgil describe a wedding ritual or the parody of a wedding ritual? And if they did not get married, how would you describe their relationship?

127127. Compare and contrast Dido’s and Aeneas’ encounter in the cave with that of Jason and Medea in Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 4.1128 – 69:

Immediately they prepared a mixing-bowl of wine for the blessed gods, as is proper, and following correct ritual procedure led sheep to the altar. On that very night they made ready a bridal bed for the girl in the sacred cave where Macris once lived... Here, then, they prepared the great bed; over it they threw the gleaming golden fleece, so that the wedding night should be honoured and become the subject of song. And for them the nymphs gathered flowers of many colours and brought them cradled in their white breasts.... Some were called daughters of the river Aegaeus, others haunted the peaks of mount Melite, and others were woodland nymphs from the plains. Hera herself, Zeus’ wife, urged them to come in Jason’s honour. To this day that holy cave is called the Cave of Medea, where the nymphs spread out fragrant linen and brought the marriage of the couple to fulfilment. ... The crew ... to the pure accompaniment of Orpheus’ lyre, sang the wedding song at the entrance of the bridal chamber. It was not in Alcinous’ domain that the heroic son of Aeson [Jason], had wished to marry, but in the halls of his father after his retun to Iolcus; and Medea also had the same intention, but necessity led them to make love at that time. But so it is: we tribes of woe-stricken humans never enter upon delight wholeheartedly, but always some bitter pain marches alongside our joy. Thus, though they melted in sweet love-making, both were fearful whether Alcinous’ sentence would be brought to fruition.

128128. Why is the day in which Dido and Aeneas meet in the cave the cause of death and evils (169 – 70): ille dies primus leti primusque malorum/causa fuit)?

129129. What does Dido’s culpa (172) consist in?

173 – 197: The News Goes Viral

130130. Lines 173 – 83 contain a description of the personified concept Fama, to whom Virgil — following precedents in Homer and Hesiod — grants a divine lineage and existence. Try to draw the goddess on the basis of his verses. Inspiration could come from J. Paul Weber’s painting, Das Gerücht (‘The Rumour’), which is easily located via Google Images.

131131. Explain the grammar and syntax of qua (174).

132132. Why and how is fear (176: parua metu primo...) a factor in Fama’s growth?

133133. In 178 – 81 Virgil provides a genealogy for Fama, putting her in the company of pre-Olympian monsters: how does his word order, syntax, and metre in these lines reinforce the theme of monstrosity?

134134. What type of genitive is deorum in 178 (Terra parens, ira inritata deorum)?

135135.... ut perhibent... (179): who are they?

136136. Scan line 180 (progenuit, pedibus celerem et pernicibus alis): how does the meter reinforce the theme of speed (cf. celerem)?

137137. Analyse the syntax of 181 – 83 (cui, quot sunt corpore plumae,/tot uigiles oculi subter (mirabile dictu),/tot linguae, totidem ora sonant, tot subrigit auris): at what point does it break down and why?

138138. Explain the grammar of mirabile dictu (182).

139139. After small and fearful beginnings (176: parua metu primo), Fama in 187 is said to terrify great cities (magnas territat urbes). What is the source of the terror she spreads?

140140. Analyse the rhetorical design of tam ficti prauique tenax quam nuntia ueri (188): what does it tell us about the truth-value of Fama’s discourse?

  • 13 Austin (1963), p. 74.
  • 14 O’Hara (2011), p. 42.

141141. In lines 189 – 97, Virgil summarizes what Fama says about Dido and Aeneas. Scholars have different opinions concerning the truth-value of her coverage. Here is Austin: ‘it is true that Aeneas has come to Carthage, and that Dido is living with him; but luxu and turpique cupidine captos (‘enthralled by vile passion’) is a malicious twist to truth, and so is immemores’.13 And here O’Hara: ‘What in Rumor’s report is not true? That Dido considers Aeneas her husband? That she neglects her kingdom (but see 261 – 64 for Aeneas supervising construction)? That they are captives of foul desire?’14 Discuss.

  • 15 Hardie (2009), p. 107.

142142. ‘What Fama spreads is “news”, an up-to-date report about the private lives of two royal families.’15 Imagine you are Lord Leveson in charge of an enquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of reporting news, have fielded testimony from Dido and Aeneas on Fama’s coverage of their ‘cohabitation’, and need to report your findings to Parliament: what would you say? What part of her coverage is true, what part distorted, what part ‘in the public domain’, what part an infringement of privacy legislation, from a contemporary point of view?

143143. Analyse the stylistic design of 192: cui se pulchra uiro dignetur iungere Dido. Why is Fama’s spin on the facts so insidious?

144144. What are the associations Fama is trying to invoke with the term luxu (193)?

145145. In line 195 (haec passim dea foeda uirum diffundit in ora) does foeda modify haec or dea or ora — or any two or all three?

198 – 218: In Dad I Tru$t

146146. Virgil begins this section with Iarbas’ genealogy. What kind of ablative is Hammone (198)? And how does Iarbas’ mother feature in the text?

147147. Analyse the design of lines 199 – 202 (templa Ioui centum latis immania regnis,/centum aras posuit uigilemque sacrauerat ignem,/excubias diuum aeternas, pecudumque cruore/pingue solum et uariis florentia limina sertis), with special attention to the three chiastic patterns in the passage.

148148. What is the position of Iarbas’ hands as he prays to Jupiter (cf. 205: manibus... supinis)?

149149. Analyse the structure of Iarbas’ prayer to Jupiter (206 – 18) and try to define the tone in which he presents his case to the supreme divinity (who also happens to be his father). What are the rhetorical devices, what the arguments he employs to stir Jupiter into action?

150150. How does Iarbas gradually sap Jupiter of his powers in the rhetorical question at 208 – 10 (an te, genitor, cum fulmina torques/nequiquam horremus, caecique in nubibus ignes/terrificant animos et inania murmura miscent?)? (You may wish to pay attention to the distribution of Jupiter’s agency across subordinate and main clauses.)

151151. Iarbas notion that Carthage is a city of pitiful size (211 – 12: urbem/exiguam) is at variance with the description of the building works undertaken by Dido, both at 1.365 – 66 and 4.88 – 89 (even if they are said to have ceased in the latter passage). What may account for the contrast?

152152. What kind of ablative is pretio (212)?

153153. Explore the implications of Iarbas’ use of dominus with reference to Aeneas (214).

154154. Catalogue and classify the insults that Iarbas hurls Aeneas’ way in 215 – 17. What stylistic devices does he use to make his abuse even more cutting?

155155. Explain the syntax of rapto (217).

219 – 37: Jupiter’s Wake-up Call

156156. How does Jupiter respond to Iarbas’ prayer? Does he listen to his son?

157157. Just like Iarbas in 209, Virgil calls Jupiter Omnipotens (220): is the epithet ‘all-powerful’ entirely justified? Put differently, in what ways are the powers of Jupiter limited in the Aeneid?

158158. Identify the six imperatives in lines 223 – 26.

159159. At 224 – 26, Jupiter gives Mercury the order to have a word with Aeneas: Dardaniumque ducem Tyria Karthagine qui nunc/exspectat fatisque datas non respicit urbes/adloquere. Analyse the design of these lines and try to describe the tone in which Jupiter comments on the Trojan leader’s current doings.

160160. At 4.227 – 31 (non illum nobis genetrix pulcherrima talem/promisit Graiumque ideo bis uindicat armis/sed fore qui grauidam imperiis belloque frementem/Italiam regeret, genus alto a sanguine Teucri/proderet, ac totum sub leges mitteret orbem) Jupiter comments to Mercury on what he claims to have been promised by Venus. The lines recall and rework 1.235 – 37, where Venus accosts Jupiter to remind him of what he had promised to her: hinc fore ductores, reuocato a sanguine Teucri,/qui mare, qui terras omnis dicione tenerent,/pollicitus [sc. es] (‘you promised that from Teucer’s restored bloodline should come leaders, who hold the sea and all lands under their rule...’). Compare and contrast the two passages and appreciate their humour!

161161. Parse Graium (228).

162162. Explore the significance of gloria (232), laus (233) and labor (233) in Rome’s political culture and the significance of their use here.

163163. What do you make of Jupiter’s (rhetorical?) question that Aeneas lives it up in Carthage because he begrudges his son a glorious future? (234: Ascanione pater Romanas inuidet arces?)

164164. Identify and comment on the metrical peculiarity in 235: aut qua spe inimica in gente moratur.

165165. Analyse the stylistic design of nec prolem Ausoniam et Lauinia respicit arua? (236).

166166. Parse nauiget! and esto (237).

238 – 258: Mercury Descending

167167. Why is the tense of parabat (238 – 39: ille patris magni parere parabat/imperio) funny?

168168. Compare Mercury’s preparations for departure and subsequent descent at 4.239 – 58 with Homer’s description of Mercury’s Greek alter ego Hermes at Odyssey 5.43 – 54:

So he spoke, and the messenger, the slayer of Argus, did not disobey. Straightway he bound beneath his feet his beautiful sandals, immortal, golden, which were wont to bear him over the waters of the sea and over the boundless earth together with the breeze of the wind. And he took the wand wherewith he lulls to sleep the eyes of whom he wishes, while others again he awakens out of slumber. With this in hand the strong slayer of Argus flew. On to Pieria he stepped from the upper air, and swooped down upon the sea, and then sped over the wave like a bird, the cormorant, which in quest of fish over the dread gulfs of the unresting sea wets its thick plumage in the brine. In such fashion did Hermes ride over the multitudinous waves.

169169. Identify the parallels between the situation of Aeneas in Carthage in Aeneid 4 and that of Odysseus on Ogygia in Odyssey 5 and consider the Dido episode against the Homeric model: what are the similarities, what the differences?

170170. What type of ablative is Orco (242)?

171171. What does et lumina morte resignat (244) mean and refer to?

172172. 246 – 51: is Atlas a man or a mountain?

  • 16 Austin (1963), p. 87.

173173. Austin does not much like the verses 248 – 51: ‘This description of Atlas (perhaps based on a painting) has power, but is out of place here, and the narrative would run better if it went straight on from 247 to 252. ... The repetition of Atlantis gives a curious prominence to the name, which does not seem to need such a stressing; and the similar rhythm of 248, 249, and 251 is noticeably monotonous (249 and 251 are identical, and in each the third-foot caesura is blurred by the monosyllable et, so that the effective caesura is in the fourth foot, as in 248)’.16 Do you agree with Austin? Do you think that Virgil may have deleted the lines during a final revision? Can you think of arguments that would rehabilitate the lines as perfectly suited to their context — and to be kept at all costs?

174174. Why does the-e-in Cyllenius (252) scan long?

259 – 278: Back to The Future

175175. What does Mercury see (261: conspicit) upon touching down in Carthage? Why would he have deemed the sight scandalous? What stylistic devices does Virgil use to reinforce the atmosphere of scandal?

176176. Mercury is supposed to deliver Jupiter’s message to Aeneas. But he does not simply reproduce Jupiter’s speech verbatim to the Trojan hero. What does he add, what does he leave out, what does he adjust? And why?

177177. 261 – 64: Any comments on Aeneas’ sense of dress?

178178. What type of dative is illi (261)?

179179. Describe the tone of Mercury’s opening words to Aeneas (265 – 67: ‘tu nunc Karthaginis altae/fundamenta locas pulchramque uxorius urbem/exstruis?’) and perform them out loud.

180180. What are the connotations of uxorius (266)?

181181. Parse oblite (267).

182182. In lines 268 – 70, Mercury reports that the message comes from Jupiter himself: how does he present the supreme divinity in his speech? Specifically, what stylistic devices does he use to underscore the grandeur of the father of the gods?

183183. Parse teris (271).

279 – 295: The Great Escape

184184. Draw the facial expression of Aeneas in the wake of Mercury’s theophany as visualized by Virgil at 279 – 80: At uero Aeneas aspectu obmutuit amens,/ arrectaeque horrore comae et uox faucibus haesit.

185185. What do we learn about Aeneas’ character and values from lines 281 – 82 (ardet abire fuga dulcisque relinquere terras,/ attonitus tanto monitu imperioque deorum).

  • 17 Austin (1963), p. 92.

186186. Here is what Austin takes away from Aeneas’ reaction to the appearance of Mercury: ‘In contrast to the impulsive, headstrong, passionate Dido, who has gone to all lengths to quell the still small voice of conscience, Aeneas at once recognizes its dictates, and he does not question obedience’.17 Discuss.

187187. Explain the subjunctives agat (283), audeat (284), and sumat (284).

188188. What, precisely, does ambire (283) mean in this context, and what are its connotations? Does Virgil’s use of this verb reflect well or badly on Aeneas?

189189. How does the word order in 285 – 86 (atque animum nunc huc celerem nunc diuidit illuc/in partisque rapit uarias perque omnia uersat) reflect the theme, i.e. frantic activity in Aeneas’ brain?

190190. Explain the syntax of alternanti (287).

  • 18 O’Hara (2011), p. 52.

191191. With reference to Aeneas’ humming and hawing of what to do in 285 – 87, O’Hara poses the question: ‘Is Aeneas’ hesitation a result of concern for breaking the news gently to Dido, or cowardice that worsens the situation by leading her to think he would leave without saying anything?’18 What do you think?

192192. Explain the subjunctives aptent (289), cogant (289), parent (290), and dissimulent (291).

193193. Analyse the orders Aeneas gives to his men at 289 – 91 (classem aptent taciti sociosque ad litora cogant,/ arma parent et quae rebus sit causa nouandis/ dissimulent): what does he asks his men to do and why?

  • 19 Austin (1963), p. 94.

194194. Austin has the following comment on optima Dido (291): ‘Optima is heart-breaking in its context; ... It means what it says, that Dido was all the world to him; it is one of the tiny revelations of Aeneas’ true feelings, like dulcis terras, 281.’19 Discuss.

195195. What insights do lines 294 – 95 (ocius omnes/imperio laeti parent et iussa facessunt) afford into how Aeneas’ men view their prolonged stay in Carthage?

296 – 299 (and beyond): Hell Hath no Fury Like a Woman Scorned

196196. Discuss the implications of Virgil’s use of the word dolos (296) as an authorial comment on Aeneas’ speech to his men.

197197. Explain the subjunctive possit (296).

198198. Why is it Dido who ‘first’ (297: prima) divines what Aeneas and his men are up to?

199199. Discuss the syntax of omnia tuta timens (298).

200200. Analyse the stylistic design of 298 – 99: eadem impia Fama furenti/detulit armari classem cursumque parari.


7 Cf. Henderson (2006), p. 13, n. 19, on Austin writing his Aeneid 1 commentary after his Aeneid 4 commentary: ‘Aeneid I as “reprise” of Aeneid IV is a piquant trajectory — one followed by many a student/Latinist, for IV has been excerpted as the text set for early examination syllabuses so regularly that it always already does come first.’

8 Lyne (1987), p. 121.

9 Love, while a seemingly universal phenomenon, manifests culturally specific inflections and therefore also has a history: see S. May, Love: A History (New Haven and London, 2011).

10 Gutting (2006), pp. 269 – 70.

11 O’Hara (2011), p. 28.

12 Austin (1963), p. 45.

13 Austin (1963), p. 74.

14 O’Hara (2011), p. 42.

15 Hardie (2009), p. 107.

16 Austin (1963), p. 87.

17 Austin (1963), p. 92.

18 O’Hara (2011), p. 52.

19 Austin (1963), p. 94.