Essay on Aeneid, Books 1 & 2

The primary focus of this essay should be the selections that we have read in Latin but you must also use and analyze books one and two as a whole and give special attention to episodes read in translation that concern or reflect heroics.

Introduction: Vergil’s Aeneid, although it contains elements of historical, ktistic and panegyric epic, draws its inspiration and literary form from Homeric epic, a genre defined by the Iliad and the Odyssey.  These epics present heroic individuals who, within the expectations of an aristocratic ethos, strive for glory (kleos) on the battlefield, seek immortality, battle the elements and nature, and struggle against opposing gods.

Your heroic task, Roman Rabbit, is tripartite: 

  1. First consider what definition or paradigm of heroics emerges from Aeneid I and II and how Vergil crafts individual episodes to illustrate, reflect and define heroics.  What paradigm of the hero or individual heroics does Vergil establish in book one? Consider the actions or behavior of both gods and mortals here.   Do not forget Ajax, furor, dolus, kleos, Juno, Neptune and do not limited your analysis to scenes that involve Aeneas.  How does Vergil present Achilles, Odysseus, Ajax, Neoptolemus, etc?   
  2. Secondly, consider and evaluate the Trojan refugee and proto-Roman hero,  Aeneas, in the context of this paradigm or definition of heroics, as defined by Vergil in books one and two of the Aeneid.  How does Vergil’s Aeneas act or react in these episodes? What heroic challenges does Vergil have Aeneas face?  Does Aeneas (always) fit the model of hero as defined by Vergil in these two books?   Is Aeneas unique in any way?
  3. Finally, based on your definition of heroics in book one and two, what expectations concerning heroics or as a hero do you have for Aeneas in the rest of the epic?  This part should not be more than a page.

As you read and analyze Vergil’s Latin to consider the above questions remember that Vergil is writing for a Roman audience whose social and political norms and values, have been shaped by the collective experience of war, conquest and empire.  Your essay should display a careful consideration of epic conventions, diction, figures of speech, mythological, geographical and historical references, phonetics and metrical effects.   The following episodes will provide fertile ground for your analysis.  

  1. The Proem (book 1) 
  2. The Death of Ajax (book 1)
  3. Aeneas, storm scene, Juno’s wrath (book 1)
  4. Neptune’s role in storm scene (book 1) 
  5. Aeneas hunts stages, feeds men and give speech (book 1)
  6. Jupiter's speech/prophecy to Venus on Future/fate of gens Romana
  7. Ecphrasis at the Temple of Juno (English) (book 1) -  a crucial scene
  8. Ilioneus’s speech to Dido (book 1) 
  9. Aeneas reveals himself to Dido and speaks (book 1) 
  10. Laocoon (book 2) 
  11. Hector’s Ghost (book 2) 
  12. Neoptolemus and the Death of Priam
  13. Other events from the Ilioupersis
  14. Helen in Book 2 (book 2)
  15. Aeneas fights Trojans in book 2 (translation) 
  16. Helena, Venus and Aeneas Episode (book 2) 
  17. Aeneas’s final escape from Troy (English, last part of book 2) 

It is crucial that you quote and analyze Vergil’s Latin in precise detail to support your ideas and arguments. Work with individual words and phrases, not lengthy quotations.   Latin goes in italic font. 

Organize your thoughts in a clear and coherent manner before you begin to write. 

It is highly recommended that you discuss your ideas with me as you analyze Vergil’s Latin and organize your thoughts. 

Value 250-300 Points.    Due Friday, March 16, 2017.  Late paper will not be accepted.

aeneas and dido painting .jpg


Essay on Heroics and Virtus in  Book Five of Caesar’s De Bello Gallico

Following several successful years of warfare in Gaul,  Caesar was able to consider Gaul largely pacified under Roman imperium, to cross the Rhine, and to make two heroic expeditions across the river Oceanus to Britain.  Upon his return from Britain at the end of the summer of 54 BC, he decides to scatter his legions throughout Gaul because, as he himself relates, there was a general shortage of grain in Gaul that year.   Disaster follows for the Romans, when the forces of Cotta (heroic) and Sabinus are ambushed and slaughtered.  The hiberna under Cicero’s control almost taken by the Nervii and the several Gallic nations are spurred to a more general uprising against the Romans.     In narrating these events in which hundreds of Romans are slaughtered, Caesar often gives great emphasis to examples of Roman heroics or virtus, the most salient example of which is the vignette of Vorenus and Pullo during the siege of Cicero’s camp.  Cotta is also crucial. 

In a well-organized essay discuss, analyze and evaluate all examples of Roman heroics by both Roman soldiers and legati from chapters of book 5 that we have read in Latin. Analyze the language of these individual episodes but consider them within the context of Caesar overall historical narrative of the rebellion of Ambiorix and the disaster of the Roman hiberna.   

How does Caesar define heroics?  Do you find any stylistic patterns or similarities in Caesar’s presentation of heroics?  What are Caesar’s purposes in presenting these heroic acts in the way that he does?  What is their function within Caesar’s overall historical narrative?  These questions are for reflection and do necessarily need to form the core of your argument. 

Clever rabbits of A/A+ ambitionswill also be aware of examples of heroics form other parts of Caesar’s De Bello Gallico, read in translation or in Latin. 

You may for this particular part wish to look at some secondary sources. Jstore has a number of journals with article on Roman History and Latin Literature.   Make sure you cite these sources, if you use them. 

Your essay should be built from precise and detailed textual analysis that is sensitive to emphasis and  nuances created from both diction and use of rhetorical devices or figures of speech.  

Grading Rubric or Check List for a “A” paper. 

1) Quality and precision of textual analysis.

2) Your paper displays a close and detailed reading of Caesar’s Latin and make all the points that are to be made from analysis of the Latin. 

3) Sensitivity to diction, phonetics and figures of speech or rhetorical devices. 

4) Introduction and conclusion are appropriate to the argument presented in your paper. 

5) Argument and evidence are presented in an organized format and structure. 

6) Paper presents a clear and coherent argument that is supported by textual analysis and citation of Latin words and phrase. 

7) Quality and clarity of your English prose.  

8) Correct formatting.  

Value 200 points.   Due Friday, January 15, 2015.   Late papers will be eaten by the instructor. 

The Dying Gaul from the Capitoline Museums in Rome. 

First Quarter Essay on Caesar’s First Invasion of Britain: Veni, Vidi, Vici

 De Bello Gallico, Book IV, Chapters 24 to 36.

Britain, the final frontier.  These are the voyages of Caesar and the Roman army. Their mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no (Ro)man has gone before.

Remember that epic journeys are a traditional theme of Greco-Roman history.   Xenophon’s Anabasis or Alexander’s trek through the Persian Empire with his army to banks of the Indus river are famous examples.  In book IV of De Bello Gallico Caesar crosses both the Rhine and Oceanus. 

Caesar’s first expedition to Britain (55 BC) confronts him and his army with a number of crises that threaten disaster and require heroic leadership to solve.  What crises does Caesar face and how does he present these crisis?   This episode in which Caesar leads the Roman army in terram incognitam may be read as a series of challenges that test and prove Caesar’s heroic leadership and unique ability as imperator or dux.  Analyze Caesar’s Latin to show how he manipulates the language to create an atmosphere of intermittent crisis that heightens the drama of his narrative and gives Caesar multiple opportunities to show his leadership.   What is the nature of these crises which Caesar and his army face and how does he use or manipulate the Latin language in their presentation?   Read and analyze the Latin text very closely and carefully with awareness of figures of speech/rhetorical devices, diction, phonetics and word order.   Remember figures of speech are not important in themselves but are employed by the author to give greater nuance to the content.    You must both recognize them and show what meaning, emphasis or nuance that they bring to the content of the text.   Stylistic analysis of Caesar’s Latin should be fundamental part of this paper. 

I am especially looking for: 

  1. Concise and carefully crafted introduction and conclusion
  2. Clear and coherent organization of ideas
  3. Precise analysis of Latin words, phrases and use of figures of speech
  4. Appropriate citation of  Latin 
  5. A very detailed reading and comprehensive analysis of Caesar’s Latin

I invite you to discuss your ideas, analysis, and organization with me prior to writing.

Value 200 Points. 

Due date: Very Early November  2015. 

Late papers will not be accepted.

Maximum length is 8 pages.