Between the commemorative games and the descent to the Underworld in Books 5 and 6 of Vergil’s Aeneid: a study of structure and narrative technique in the transition

Powell,, David John (2017) Between the commemorative games and the descent to the Underworld in Books 5 and 6 of Vergil’s Aeneid: a study of structure and narrative technique in the transition. Masters thesis, Birkbeck, University of London.

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Abstract

Book 5 of Vergil’s Aeneid is known for the games commemorating the first anniversary of Anchises’ death; Book 6 for Aeneas’ visit to the Underworld. Each of these major episodes offers a fairly homogeneous narrative, the former describing the Trojans relaxing, the latter didactic and philosophical. Connecting these two extended episodes are 529 lines (5.604-6.261) in which twelve heterogeneous scenes, mostly short, effect modulation from a superficially happy atmosphere to one of solemnity. This thesis considers this ‘Transitional Section’ as a single coherent unit, spanning the weak division between Books 5 and 6. In fulfilling the principal function of transition, the twelve scenes provide recapitulation of important themes for (re-)readers and preparation for what is to come both for (re-)readers and for Aeneas and the Aeneadae. After the Introduction, individual scenes or groups of scenes are analysed in five chapters. Chapter 2 considers whether the rôle of the Olympian gods, returning to centre-stage after a lengthy absence, can be demythologized, finding established interpretations not entirely satisfactory. Chapter 3 challenges interpretation of the loss and subsequent death of the helmsman Palinurus as a ‘sacrifice’. Chapter 4 examines historical and political symbolism underlying images said to have been sculpted by Daedalus on temple doors at Cumae. Chapter 5 investigates why an obscure personage, Misenus, is accorded a magnificent funeral. Chapter 6 postulates Vergil himself as a third vates, along with Apollo and the Sibyl, and proposes metapoetic, as well as generic human, interpretations of the Golden Bough. In conclusion, the individual scenes are set in the wider context of the poem as a whole, demonstrating how major themes are brought back into prominence and foreshadow subsequent developments. Attention is also given to structure and narrative technique. Passages of metapoetic and/or self-referential significance are highlighted in each of the five core chapters.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Additional Information: MPhil
Copyright Holders: The copyright of this thesis rests with the author, who asserts his/her right to be known as such according to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. No dealing with the thesis contrary to the copyright or moral rights of the author is permitted.
School/Department: School of Social Sciences, History & Philosophy > History, Classics & Archaeology
Depositing User: ORBIT Editor
Date Deposited: 21 Apr 2017 16:22
Last Modified: 21 Apr 2017 16:22
URI: http://bbktheses.da.ulcc.ac.uk/id/eprint/202

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