Virgil’s Use of Consciousness, Memory, and History in “The Aeneid”

The grandest image of Virgil’s Aeneid is the shield forged by the god Vulcan in the eighth book of Aeneas’ adventure to “Lavinian shores and Italian soil.” Virgil pays homage to Homer, his master and mentor, who also describes a grand image on a shield forged by the gods for Achilles. But where Achilles’ shield is filled with the images of mythos and pathos, Aeneas’ shield is filled with the spectacle of history and triumph. In the two shields from the two poets, we see the supersession of mythos and pathos with historical memory.

Part of my regular monthly literary column at TIC I explore and explain the use of historical memory and consciousness in Virgil’s crafting of his epic The Aeneid. I focus on the episodes with Dido and Turnus and highlight how Virgil drew from living memory to construct Aeneas’ encounter with the two most memorable characters apart from our eponymous hero.

Read it in full here: The Shield of Aeneas: Memory and History in Virgil’s “Aeneid” 


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    1. I’m familiar with it. Haven’t personally read it. A friend of mine recently revisited the book and wrote a review of it which I read. You might say I’m inclined to believe his framework but not his dating of the bicameral cut off.

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