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Vergil and literary theory : some late 20th century critical views on the 'Aeneid' of vergil with particular reference to the close of the poem

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dc.contributor.author Malan CA en
dc.date.accessioned 2016-09-22T08:37:29Z
dc.date.available 2016-09-22T08:37:29Z
dc.date.created 1989 en
dc.date.submitted 1993 en
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11892/35180
dc.description.abstract The study investigates Virgilian criticism in the English-speaking world, and pays particular attention to a period starting from the sixties and continuing to the present. This study is an attempt to discover the grounds for the vast spectrum of differing interpretations of Virgil s Aeneid. Bearing in mind the immense impact of modern literary theory on literature today, the author examines Virgilian criticism of the last thirty years in order to ascertain the extent, if any, of such influence on modern critics' interpretation of the meaning of the death of Turnus in Aeneid 12. Symbolism and 'New Criticism' were two of the more popular critical approaches of the sixties to the study of literary texts. Critics would ignore the historical background of the text, which meant a particular critic's own Weltanschauung was paramount in interpreting the text of the Aeneid. The anti-militarism of the post-Vietnam-era may be seen to colour American Virgilian criticism in particular, to such an extent that an epic which for centuries had been considered to embody the foundation myth of the Roman nation, was now viewed as stringent criticism of Augustus and his pax Augusta, as it had been brought about by means of warfare. Virgilian criticism therefore took on a dual aspect: the traditional, optimistic view of mainly British and European critics, and the mostly negative view of the Americans. Such pessimistic and intensely personal interpretations of the close of the Aeneid tended to persist into the seventies, but new trends in modern literary theory in the end won through, and even American criticism regained some of the old optimism, albeit in new forms. Reception aesthetics in particular proved fruitful, for this approach lends itself well to the idiosyncratic nature of a classical work. The horizon of expectation of the ancient reading public was viewed as a valid point of departure for the critic. As ancillary studies explored more of the facts about ancient society, those studies aimed at reconstructing the Roman social and intellectual milieu gained in stature. Great differences in perspective between the modern and ancient worlds became apparent, especially with regard to the moral aspects of concepts such as anarchy, heroism, ira, furore, clementia, pietas and the taking of booty on the battle field. A salient feature of reception studies is the critics' deepened awareness of the epic tradition and Virgil s creative transformation of the Homeric prototype. As for the modern reader, so an awareness of this tradition heightened for the ancient reader his critical perception of Virgilian creativity. During the eighties study of this aspect of the Aeneid gained in importance and led to a better understanding of the cultural background of the Roman epic. Other modern trends, such as structuralism, feminism or narratology, have shown that a multifaceted work such as the Aeneid lends itself to many interpretations, and that criticism cannot be satisfactorily approached from a single, limited viewpoint. An eclectic approach provides for the personal preferences of an individual modern critic, leaving room for emphasis on the many aspects of such a complex ancient work. The Aeneid demands of a critic a multiplicity of approaches, if such a critic hopes to draw valid critical conclusions. en
dc.language English en
dc.subject Latin literature en
dc.subject Literary theory and philosophy en
dc.title Vergil and literary theory : some late 20th century critical views on the 'Aeneid' of vergil with particular reference to the close of the poem en
dc.type Masters degree en
dc.description.degree MA en


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