Virgil: The Georgics in Latin + English (SPQR Study Guides Book 6)

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After the death of Sarpedon follows a lengthy skirmish between the Achaeans and Trojans to recover his corpse Patroclus says as much during his pre-battle speech at Il. If only we could win and dishonour his body and strip the armour from his shoulders, and kill with the pitiless bronze some one of his companions who fight to defend him.

Homer offers opposing motivational cries from both armies, vying for the body Il. Here for the first time the verb aeikizein appears in the Iliad. The theme of corpse abuse and the fate of dead heroes begins here and intensifies throughout the remainder of the poem. The poet sets up Sarpedon even this early as a model for Hector and his corpse treatment.


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They stab him to test the softness of his flesh, but also to corrupt that beauty, to make him ugly. Achilles further disfigures the corpse by dragging Hector on the ground behind his chariot, leaving the head, in particular, to be ground face-first into the dust Griffin : 47; Vernant : 63; Richardson : ad See de Jong : for details on the interconnectedness of the deaths of Sarpedon, Patroclus, and Hector.

The situation is neatly summarized by de Jong : ad Achilles is not satisfied with simply killing Hector: he wants to make him less-than-human, to destroy him.

See also Clarke : n. Vernant makes similar points about corpse abuse as dehumanizing. See also Holmes : Hector will himself wear that same bloody helmet, sealing his own fate and allusions to 13 See Pagliaro on the motif of corpse mutilation in the proem. See, variously, Bassett : and : ; Faust ; Segal : passim; Redfield : , ; Vermeule : ; Griffin : ; Schein : ; Vernant : ; West : ; Clarke : ; Mirto : index s. For the theme of decapitation in the Iliad, see Friedrich : ; Fenik : 15 n.

Besides threats of post mortem decapitation, the Iliad contains seven examples of battlefield decapitation: Most savagely, Achilles, becoming the human embodiment of a ravening dog, will threaten to eat Hector raw Priam fears his own corpse will be left for his dogs to maul and devour His body, quite suddenly,25 is returned to Priam for burial Vernant : Macleod : ad Note also Morrison : ; Reichel : The closest the poem comes to an example of a corpse being consumed by animals is that of Asteropaeus at The corpse of Asteropaeus is clearly abused, in the unusual context of a watery venue.

But even here the abuse is only allowed to go so far. The watery venue for the slaughter itself functions as a further purifying agent. Sarpedon See also Whitehorne : ; Jones : The spreading of the fire is pervasive, expressed in the repetitions of images of burning, from trees to the eels deep in the river-bed: with Richardson : ad The Iliad also places a great deal of emphasis on proper burial practice.

Telamonian Ajax comes forward after being selected by lot, but the words look ahead to his fatal duel with Achilles in book Redfield : , Perhaps this reflects the framework of impending doom that hangs over Hector from early on in the poem, that his death is assured e. Mirto : Achilles himself feared his own body would be lost in the Scamander, unburied and unhonored at This will be the end of that destructiveness that characterized Achilles and the poem as a whole, and the gods agree Hector needs to be honored like a human, not a thing.

Whatever uneasiness we as an audience and the characters within the text felt at the accumulation of attempts, threats, and fears of corpse abuse and the withholding of proper 34 See Schein : There Odysseus expresses his own fear of being lost at sea.

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Hector promises Achilles will face divine wrath if he refuses his corpse proper burial rites at Il. So too the Iliad at times crosses the boundary between the suggestion of corpse abuse and actual abuse. The closest the Iliad comes to overt corpse mutilation occurs during a rash of revenge killings in the gruesome fighting of book Murray : On this relatively common Homeric motif of striking a lesser opponent when aiming for a greater one alienum uulnus , see Fenik : 57, The decapitation happens in the heat of battle, and thus lacks the sort of premeditation we find in the threats and boasts that are ultimately unfulfilled elsewhere in the poem.

But the brutality of the scene and its blurring of the lines between battlefield aggression and post mortem mutilation deserve a bit more consideration than scholarship has granted.

the virgil anthology the eclogues the georgics and the aeneid texts from ancient rome book 1 Manual

No mention of the scene in Redfield or Vermeule See more helpfully van Wees : n. In the subsequent foot-race he falls face-first in a pile of dung, prompting universal delight and laughter However we interpret the decapitation, the scene is singularly conspicuous for its brutality.

His preeminence among the Trojans is highlighted Telamonian Ajax strikes Hector with a stone, he falls like an oak struck by lightning, and his bronze-inlaid armor clatters around him Line-doubles are common and usually tell us very little in Homeric poetry, but this particular line appears only elsewhere at The references to playful, unwarlike games add an element of almost whimsical grotesquerie to each scene. Like other heroes, a fall in the dust is a sure 49 See Janko : ad All other tree-falling similes accompany a warrior who has died. In a brief and excellent article, David Elmer has discussed the importance of a simile at Iliad Hector will eventually lie in the dust like other dead heroes But note the enticing arguments of Davison , Thornton : , and Frame : for a six-day performance period, dividing poetic material into six units of four books each.

West : prefers to divide the performance material into four units of six books each, which, again, would leave the end of book 12 as a mid-point of performance. While individual book lengths vary enormously, the line numbers corresponding to the six four-book units are very close in length and thus, reasonably, provide equal space for performance time see the charts at Davison []: 24, a stab at possible performance times for recitation of these four-book units.

I cite from Frame : n. Also, Fenik : ; Janko : ; Stanley : Neal a : notes that with book 13, the Iliad becomes progressively and dramatically more gory and bloody. Book 13 ushers in this shift with particular gusto, and brings the theme of corpse mutilation to the fore. The details of the game are not entirely clear,56 but we do know that it was played with a ball while teams battle for position on an evenly marked-out field. The winning team was the one that drove the other team all the way across the field, to the baseline thus acquiring control of the entire game space.

This image finds a double in the simile immediately following which compares the equilibrium of battle to equal portions of wool weighed out by a weaver At the opening of book 8, Zeus calls an assembly of the gods. Zeus demands compliance, and warns the gods against interfering. And through book 12, the scenario envisioned by Zeus has been playing out accordingly, as the Trojans take the upperhand in battle and Hector establishes himself as the singularly exceptional Trojan hero whom Achilles will eventually slay, sealing his kleos.

Yet as Book 13 opens, Zeus suddenly turns his gaze northward, to the Thracians, Mysians, and Scythians The pro-Achaean Poseidon covertly enters the fray and inspires a string of Achaean military successes, acting directly against the will of Zeus after the king of the gods diverts his attention. He is apparently about to die. Most scholars follow Aristarchus A and D scholia ad Il.

Zeus, however, does refer in his prophecy at Il. Clay and, concisely, Elmer : See also Elmer : esp.

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On waking, Zeus must restore events to the course dictated by his will; now that the intransigence of the pro-Achaean party has been laid bare, he must rely even more directly on the threat of raw force, which he deploys against both Hera and Poseidon Il It is clear that the Iliad articulates a definable limit on the imposition of violence in war. We see repeatedly examples of boasts, fears, and attempts aimed at breaking through that limit, only to have the poet pull back from allowing these expressions of violence to world audience of the poem.

Stanley : with notes. This overarching system concerning the appropriate treatment of the dead makes the case of Imbrius singularly conspicuous in the poem. I argue that these features make the scene meaningful to issues related to the treatment of the dead in the poem, that the scene demands contemplation. If nothing else, I have sought to bring to the forefront a powerful scene in the poem that has been grossly under analyzed—even in studies that target corpse maltreatment in the poem—in an attempt to test its merits and apply it to the larger themes of abuse in the Iliad.

By that, I mean that it is my aim to coax some meaning out of moments in the Aeneid that Virgil willfully writes out of his narrative, that he refuses to narrate. Specifically, I will consider scenes of corpse maltreatment and abuse that we know take place during the course of the poem, but which Virgil does not articulate explicitly. Analysis of silence is inherently slippery, and little can 46 be offered here in terms of certainty, but it is precisely this uncertainty and confusion that I think Virgil is exploiting enigmatically as a means of challenging his readers and of eliciting multifaceted readings out of cruxes he leaves unresolved.

But nowhere does the poet include physical detail of post mortem violence.

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See also recently Dekel See also, Heinze : , n. Farron : This view gives Virgil little credit for his depiction of graphic violence, however see more on this below. Virgil builds on the Iliadic model, going even further than Homer by allowing the abuse that is nearly entirely denied in the Iliad to seep into his poem, while still distancing himself from that abuse by refusing to narrate it. Next 2 I analyze the death and treatment of Mezentius spanning the end of book 10 and the beginning of book See Burck : for a full discussion of the burial rites that begin Aen.


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Virgil has Nisus and Euryalus play the role of both Greeks and Trojans in this intertext, but they die appropriately as Trojans. Heinze : , with notes; Knauer : , ; Schlunk : ; Johnson : ; Gransden : ; Pavlock ; Hardie : ; Casali ; Beye ; Mebane Servius ad 9. Noted by Hardie : ad 9.


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By allowing the heads of Nisus and Euryalus to be severed and impaled like this, Virgil equates Turnus and the Rutulians with the monster Cacus. But then we have a change of scenery: Dawn appears and scatters her light upon the earth, revealing Turnus, his troops, and, now, the heads of Nisus and Euryalus 9. What Virgil leaves hidden in the darkness before dawn is the decapitation of the two heroes; it is as if the scene of abuse has been expurgated from the text.

Nisus and Euryalus receive treatment similar to their unfortunate Iliadic model Dolon,70 who has his head cut off at Iliad He is like a purple flower severed by the plow ,73 an image which itself teases at bodily decapitation OLD s. By offering the image lines earlier of the dangling necks of Rhamnes and his acolytes severed with brutal detail, Virgil offers us the opportunity to read in these described decapitations the non-narrated mutilation of Nisus and Euryalus. Moreover, drunk, sleeping, helpless victims are not all that dissimilar to corpses: neither can offer resistance, neither open their eyes.

Sappho c PLF and Catullus That Geryon had three heads and Nisus slices the necks of three attendants of Rhamnes in quick succession is probably not coincidental, and further links the two scenes in Virgil through the shared imagery with their Greek models. Homer avoids judgment in 52 stimulates reader participation. We have cribs, if we need something to follow, but the actual corpse mutilations are left to the imagination of the reader.

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