Vergil's Aeneid
FIRST ESSAY (7.5%)  
Due in class, 30 October 1998
Write on one of the following topics.  Be as specific and as concise as you can.  Be sure to refer to the
guidelines in the course syllabus when composing and preparing your essay.

Remember, this is not a research paper, but an opportunity for you to interpret the text.  Of course, if you do use outside scholarship, either through direct quotation or by building from an essential idea, you must reference your source appropriately.

In the course of your essay, I expect that you will be working from the translation more often than not.  There will be times, however, when it will be appropriate for you to quote from the Latin directly (short sentences, a word or two, and so on).  I have placed the Loeb Classical Library edition of the Aeneid on three-hour reserve at Scribner Library for your use.

References to the text are most easily handled in the body of your essay, like so:

            Despite Aeneas' accusations, Venus denies everything (1.443-6).

A)  What kind of hero is Aeneas?  That is, does he seem like an appropriate character on which to base an epic?  Track Aeneas' responses to various crises in Aeneid 1-6.  How does he handle them?  Does he meet with success?  To what extent do the gods guide his actions?  Draw on your knowledge of Homeric heroes, if appropriate. 
B)  It has been often remarked that book 4 of the Aeneid is tragic.  Explore this notion by discussing what elements (plot, language, speeches, and the like) seem most reminsicent of Greek tragedy.  Is the tragedy confined to book 4 alone, or does it begin or end elsewhere?  Why do you think Vergil wrote a tragedy into his epic? 
C)  The Aeneid is a unique blend of mistory and myth.  Identify and discuss the historical elements on display in books 1-6, and how they are made to serve the mythical story at large.  What do you think a Roman of the late first century BCE would have made of these historical touches? 
If you have any questions or comments, please contact me.