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Title Time and History in Virgil's Aeneid.
Publication Date
Date Accessioned
Degree PhD
Discipline/Department Classical Studies
Degree Level doctoral
University/Publisher University of Michigan
Abstract This dissertation examines the philosophy of history espoused by Virgil in the Aeneid. On the one hand this involves locating the philosophical inspiration behind Virgil’s diverse references to temporality. On the other hand, it involves considering how Virgil interpreted the momentous historical events that had occurred in his own lifetime. With regard to this second point, I have taken the constructive approach of isolating aspects of the Aeneid that interpret contemporary history, and comparing them to several of Augustus’ public displays from the period following Actium that responded to the same historical stimuli. This approach allows us to see the tremendous rapport that existed between the ways these two conceived of history and historical agency, and indicates that Virgil was much more supportive of Augustus than some have supposed. The two most important philosophical influences on Virgil’s conception of history are Stoicism and Pythagoreanism. With its doctrine of ekpyrosis, the former offered Virgil a model of history that identified destruction with creation, and thus complemented his interpretation of time as a basically sacrificial process. This latter feature is one of the most important aspects of the poem, and I devote significant attention to its presence and function in the Aeneid. This sacrificial conception of history produces a tension that underlies many of the poem’s pivotal moments; Virgil establishes this tension in such a way that it can only be resolved by a permanent escape from temporality. Such an escape was offered by the form of Pythagoreanism that he would have known, and for this reason it is the primary influence behind Virgil’s conception of the afterlife. Virgil’s reliance on these two traditions has led to the existence of two “arcs” in the narrative, and I argue that each of these culminates in a “Golden Age.” Part of his reason for doing this was to accommodate the genuine progress that he had witnessed in his lifetime, largely in the political sphere through Octavian/Augustus. But even the latter, as I argue, was intent upon maintaining the distinction between the temporal and eternal worlds.
Subjects/Keywords Virgil's Aeneid; Augustus; Stoicism; Pythagoreanism; Sacrifice; Georgics; Classical Studies; Humanities
Contributors Potter, David S. (committee member); Caston, Victor (committee member); Frier, Bruce W. (committee member); Seo, Joanne Mira (committee member)
Language en
Rights Unrestricted
Country of Publication us
Record ID handle:2027.42/84462
Repository umich
Date Retrieved
Date Indexed 2020-09-09
Grantor University of Michigan, Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies
Issued Date 2011-01-01 00:00:00
Note [thesisdegreename] Ph.D.; [thesisdegreediscipline] Classical Studies; [thesisdegreegrantor] University of Michigan, Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies; [bitstreamurl] http://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/bitstream/2027.42/84462/1/rpmittal_1.pdf;

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