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C O U R S E 
Greek and Roman Mythology
Dr. Peter Struck, University of Pennsylvania
C O U R S E   L E C T U R E 
On Reading Vergil
Notes taken on January 17, 2014 by Edward Tanguay
how Vergil thought about myth
asking this of Homer or the tragedians, we wouldn't get much of an answer, since they didn't have much meta-thought on what myth was to them, they just employed it
with Virgil we have evidence of him using myth as a tool
has large tradition of the interpretation of Homer
Vergil is a scholar poet, an artist
an extremely learned person
very familiar with the traditions that he is writing and rewriting but also of the commentary of these writings
this gives him a rich context in which to remake the traditions that are coming his way
has a strong rationalizing impulse to him
when he encounters strange or mystical events, he provides an explanation of these
e.g. the love scene at the close of Book 1 where Venus decides to weaken Dido by making her fall in love with Aeneas
Venus reshapes Amor into the shape of Ascanius, the infant son of Aeneas
-son of the love goddess Venus
Cupido = desire, Amor = love
Greek counterpart is Eros
Ascanius [as-KAYN-ee-us]
legendary king of Alba Longa and is the son of the Trojan hero Aeneas
so behind this falling in love, you have a psychological tactic being employed by Venus (The Puppy Effect)
leaving Crete
thinking about making new city here
but Aeneas should leave Crete because of plague
Vergil casts the visiting of the gods in the form of a dream
so there is not only the psychological issue of the gods telling him to go, but the physical issue of the plague
a redundant set of causes given
is quite a grand remove from most of the events that happen in the story
different from Zeus, who gets his hands dirty threatening people, sending messengers, etc.
Jupiter is further removed, grander, further out
Vergil puts Jupiter in the highest levels of the cosmos, and he stays there, he doesn't come down
Greek equivalent: Hera
daughter of Saturn
sister/wife of the chief god Jupiter
mother of Mars
Juno looked after women in Rome
when Juno gets involved in events with Aeneas, she is typically a storm goddess
blow winds and storms
in the Greek materials, Hera is not a storm goddess, not her way of doing things
Greek allegorists understood Hera's name as meaning "air" and air is responsible for the weather, so Juno as storm goddess is based on a long allegorical tradition
household gods
effigies, actual statues
local gods of particular families, a very Roman custom, not a Greek one
very important for Vergil's story
actual place names
also part of Vergil's rationalizing spirit
his story is highly mappable
all mappings of the Odyssey, on the other hand, are mostly creations of the map makers
where Homer's geography is mythic, Vergil's geography is accurate
Homer has strange and wonderful places but you can't really find them on a map of the Mediterranean
with Vergil, every place he talks about is specifically mappable onto real geography, Romans knew these places, had grown up there or visited them
Vergil is working with a new sense of "myth in history"
there was quite a high amount of history in Vergil's time and constructing myth within history is not easy, but with his vast knowledge something that Vergil largely succeeds at