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ENG150Y1 - The Aeneid - Lecture Notes.docx

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University of Toronto St. George
William Robins

ENG150Y1 – LECTURE NOTES October 22, 2012 Virgil’s Aeneid – Lecture #1  Capacity of subjective agency  Orientation towards foundational past  True meaning of one’s life is not one that follows past ^, but is one that creates a new future  Emergence of a single cultural state  Connection with the past  Social order is holistic  Individualism is subordinated to the collective  Society requires individuals to fulfill their roles, (functional divisions), society becomes hierarchical o King, ruler o warrior o Scribes o Captives, prisoners, slaves  See a connection in history between holistic states and orientation towards the past  In ancient mesopotania, the king has subjective power similar to those of the gods o Gilgamesh conquers o Capable of transforming his city  Cosmic principle of fairness, justice, appropriateness  Dhrama involves religion and repeating foundational past BUT aligns with all the transformations of religions (axio age) o Past then becomes transcendtal truth  Interior realm of characters being harnest to support the collective whole  Rishis have an important social function in society, but within society, they are subordinated by a divine and transcendatal truth  Rama wants to keep social harmony and that is why he tests sita a second time  Sita refuses to do the second test and renounces from society like the rishis do; attains moshka and escaped karma o Structurally analogous to what the rishis do o Not subject to rebirth and reincarnation because she is the avatara of lakshimi o Doesn’t follow rama’s political logic by appealing to things beyond this world – the divine  G is a human hero; a different way of thinking  H’s O follows this trend; and differs because we see the servants, the wife, the son, etc  In R, Rama is a human, and follows trasndent values  In virgil, we see both aspects: a mortal hero and follows transdenctal abstract values of good and evil that goes beyond the time contingency; interior space of self judgement o This is the mechanism that brings virgil to the orientation of the past o Has moral context  Center to V’s A, is duty, peity, respect, reverence  Equally important is the notion of destiny when there is understanding of mortal and divine sanction  V is interested in making it clear that the past and future are connected  Overall structure differs from the other three epics o Other 3 is about a hero returning home o But A leaves home forever o Different relation between past and future, but still important  One of the most important parts in book 2 is when A carrys his father on his back and holds his son’s hand and they leave Troy; shows the continuity of generations  V’s A was written after a time of civil war and struggling with the idea of whether the wars were justified or not and in his writing his asks these questions front-in-center  Poem is influential because it portrays human anxiety and its narrative logic; EPIC and ROMANCE  Central ideological or ethical component ; V’s A has this literal reflex  By epic, we mean that the meaningful governs the story; seems purposeful within the hero’s control EPIC  By romance, we mean that events seem random beyond the hero’s control ROMANCE  EOG SLAYING HUMBABA WANDERING AFTER ENDKIDU’S DEATH o G contemplates E’s death and this initated romance o Questions divine justice o Gives up on society  H’s O  () wandering @ sea / fighting the suitors R  () exile (separation / battle against ravana V  ()wandering @ sea / fighting in Italy th October 24 2012  Dido died in 19 BC, didn’t finish the aeneid; bed-dead wish was to burn what was completed but emperor augutus refused, kept the copy and published it  Virgil is aware of aspects of written culture  Difference between H’s and V, is that V is from the literate age, unlike H’s O was more of oral performance  V collective memory is visual artistic world / stays constant, H collective memory is oral performance leaving audience spellbound, continuly changes with each performance  Shift in collective memory  Collective understanding of motif in OP; fixed text in LA – different game of textual interactions, of allusions and creative imitation  Another difference is that in V, we know the author / the historical contexts and personal information  Know nothing about H  Aeneid is engaging V’s creativity  Look for map of aeneas journey  H’s is a more controlling model  A starts his story with the end of the Trojan war; historical meaning is the immergence after civil war  Pg 6 o Compares his ordeal to those that lost their lives at troy; thinks they had it better than he does at sea  Pg 10 o As A is encouraging his sailors, he is doubtful of what he is saying  The main model for the first 4 books of the A is the episode of when O is at faisha o Other important episodes r clypso and certe o A long tradition of male hero being offered unsatisfactory offerings by divine female o Sexual temptations is seen as obstacles o O starts with him longing for home, A starts with a feeling of hopelessness and complaining about the storm and gloryiness meaningless of his life; story of A is about learning that his life has purposefulness and being more committed to his prophecy  Pg 17 o Mother Venus tells son that he is destined o A doesn’t believe it  There is nagging worry that reward and justice only comes for doing something good  A doubts the divine powers  Duty is not the same here  A knows he has duty but is unable to commit to it and believe in it  Story allows V to make the story not structural division between questioning about destiny, but makes it the problem  Dido and A is the most wellknown episode  Rivalry between rome and cathrage o Cathrage in Africa, habited by the faishians o Created the alphabet and eventually picked up by the greeks o Controlled the center of the mediteraian area o Greek controlled more of Italy and wanted to control the center of the M area, this resulted in conflict o In 146 BC, rome won and destroyed cathrage / put salt on the land to ensure nothing would ever grow there again o Antagonism between rome and cathrage is emulated through the antagonism between Jupiter (juno?) and venus  Pg 119 o Dido curses A o Repricunsion because sun god will kill comrades and leave him alone in calypso’s island o Acts of violence r expiated; sense of guilt lingers for the survivors; reach destiny and home, but joy will be diminished o The way A treated D will not go away into the past o Dido falls in love with A  Allegory in the poem; poem is a story about passion o Pg 98 o D’s body has become obsessed with A o Holds son as a surrogate for his love o Has given in to the longing, becomes dominated by it o Concerned with reptutation; linked with her sexuality o Pg 102 o Metaphor of marriage that nature shows o No longer cares what people think  We don’t see A’s giving in to his desire of D; is suggested obliquely  A is caught up in carelessness  Zeus pov, is that A is delaying, losing sight of the future, not commiting to destiny  Put aside desires to complete duty  Struggle is that he realizes he needs to get his act together  Like waking from sleep, he realizes he needs to fullfil his destiny; now he’s unsure how to tell D and prepares to secretly leave her o Cowardness now transposed to his relationship instead of his destiny  Duty vs desire o His struggle is his obsession of the past to look forward into the future  Male compound of past, present and future o By contrast, dido is in her palace with women o There is no future; focuses on the present o A play thing of the gods o Gendered-focus  Focuses on the emotion th October 29 2012: The poetry of the aeneid:  Intensification o Density of language o Demands interpretation o Book 6 – the speech that sibyl utters the prophecy to aeneas (pg 162-63) o One verb doing double duty o A lot of syntatical playing around to give the most intsense form of the language o References to specific episodes o Prophecies are difficult to interpret o Aeneas is clavier of the prophecy o Overlooks the prediction of immediate suffering that he must endure and focuses on the glorious prediction of his
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