THE APPROPRIATION OF THE ILIAD IN THE VERGILIAN EPIC
Authors: Paulo Sérgio de Vasconcellos
Number of views: 253
At least since Servius and Macrobius (IV-V a.D.), it is usual to see in the structure of the Aeneid a division into two sections according to the Homeric object of imitation: the first section would be a kind of Odyssey of the protagonist Aeneas (with the narrative of his errores); the second, which narrates his deeds in war (de bello), would be his Iliad. Scholars have pointed out that this division is not static, because there is also a significant imitation of the Iliad in the first section and of the Odyssey in the second. In a chapter of his 1989 Virgil’s Augustan epic, Francis Cairns opposed the traditionally accepted bipartite structure by arguing that the Aeneid is structured as an Odyssey with iliadic moments. More recently, in his 2012 Virgil’s Homeric lens, Edan Dekel presented a more sophisticated version of this interpretation, showing how the Iliad is filtered (in various ways) in the Aeneid by the Odyssey. In this article I return to this question to point out the crucial importance of the Iliad in the Vergilian epic. In a subtle way (through rhythm, sound, and themes), the Iliad has significant echoes in the proposition of the poem, and Juno’s anger, as scholars have shown, echoes that of Achilles. At the end of the epic, readers are encouraged to see in Aeneas the shadow of an angry Achilles. These two key moments lead us to reflect on the importance of the Iliad in Vergil’s appropriation of Homer, and I will highlight this aspect of the Vergilian imitation as a kind of counterpoint to the analyses that see the Odyssey as the major model of the Aeneid.