Archives for January, 2013


How We Roll in Aeneid 1 (Updated)

Some brief notes on a pattern in Aeneid 1.1-50:

In 1.9, Vergil instructs the Muse to call to his mind the causes for which Aeneas had to undergo/roll along through so many misfortunes (tot volvere casus).

The reason, of course, is that Juno favors Carthage and wants it to be a royal power to the nations (hoc regnum…gentibus esse, 17). But she already knows that this will not happen–she has heard that Rome will rise and one day destroy Carthage, for so the Fates have ordained it/unrolled it/spun it (sic volvere Parcas22; same position in line).

Juno is thus angry that her desires will be thwarted and wants to destroy Aeneas on the sea just as Athena/Minerva had done to the lesser Ajax. So, nursing her grudge and her anger (talia flammato secum dea corde volutans, 50) she makes her way to see Aeolus.

Perhaps, then, it comes as no surprise when the same vocabulary is used to describe the storm that Juno prevails upon Aeolus to rouse: et vastos volvunt ad litora fluctus (sc. venti as subject) (86).


Servius on pietas

Servius, in his note on Aeneid 1.10, has a very straightforward, no-frills, useful definition of what it means for Aeneas to be insignem pietate:

quia patrem et deos penates de Troia sustulit.

And that pretty much sums it up. He then connects this to Vergil’s reason for invoking the Muse: he had to invoke her assistance because of the apparent contradiction involved in Aeneas’ pietas on the one hand and the anger of the gods toward him on the other:

et hic ostendit merito se invocasse musam. nam si iustus est Aeneas, cur odio deorum laborat?

Juno, obviously, is Aeneas’ main problem; but her anger leads Aeneas to suffer at the hands of the gods more broadly (vi superum, saevae memorem Iunonis ob iram, 1.4).