Tuesday, August 24, 2021


The Gathering of the Clans

William M. Calder III, tr., "Wilamowitz' Bimillenary Essay on Vergil," Vergilius 34 (1988) 112-127 (at 124-125):
With the catalogue of the allies recruited by the Rutulians and Trojans in Italy, Vergil has far excelled the Homeric model. In the Iliad it is nothing but a bare list. Vergil studied seriously; he informed himself by reading the elder Cato and others concerning the tribes of ancient Italy and at that late hour took care that the ancient regions and cities, whose uniqueness was quickly to be swallowed up in the monotonous uniformity of Roman world culture, with their ancient glory, not be forgotten. He really felt himself as an Italian not as a Roman city-dweller, just as he allows a Mantuan to fight under Aeneas, so Paelignians and Auruncans, Etruscans and Apulians found their place. That agrees with his feeling for the beauty of the land of Italy. We Germans, in whose blood lies the longing for this land, enthusiastically share his feelings. How much stronger must the passion of a native son be!
Id. (at 127):
Needless to say, the Italian people have a right to celebrate their national poet. As such after two millenia [sic] he is still a living force. He has sung the beauty of Italy and the heroic figures of Rome and has attested for so many small towns their antiquity and their glory. For the Italy of the Risorgimento, Dante was the prophet of Italia una. Now the breasts of Italians swell when they think of the power and glory of Augustan Rome—whose poet is Vergil. Fortunate the people who possess such a national poet and know how to draw from the memory of a great past strength and hope for the present!
W. Warde Fowler, Virgil's "Gathering of the Clans" Being Observations on Aeneid VII.601-817, 2nd rev. ed. (Oxford: B.H. Blackwell, 1918), pp. 27-28 (footnotes omitted):
Virgil's methods, whether in poetic architecture or poetic expression, were never entirely simple; and in this pageant we find the usual complexity. Here the most obvious motive in the poet's craft is the wish to move the feeling of his Italian reader as he sees the stately procession of Italian warriors passing before him, or perchance to fill his mind with pride and pleasure at finding among them the ancient representatives of his own city or district. Italians have always been curiously proud of the reputation of their birthplace; even in our own time they have searched Mommsen's "History of Rome" for some allusion to their homes, and treasured up the reference with gratitude. "Ha parlato bene del nostro paese," they would exclaim, as he travelled through their town in later days. The Homeric "catalogue" doubtless had an object of the same kind, but it is far more a catalogue than a pageant, and it ends with a list of what we should now call "enemy cities." Its psychological effect, I imagine, was inferior to that of Virgil's picture, if only because the Roman poet set himself to support with all his gifts the definite Italian policy of Augustus, at a time when Italy's need for national satisfaction and hope were greater than they had ever yet been.
Related post: Antiquam Exquirite Matrem.

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