Friday, November 23, 2012

A few background sources for Roman Myth

As is his wont, Ovid spends half book 13 on Troy and the aftermath of its fall before moving on to seemingly unrelated tales. His account of the fall of Troy contains some of the darkest pages of the Metamorphoses, and we'll want to ask ourselves why the poet chose to encapsulate the final calamity of the sacred city in the maternal figures of Hecuba and Aurora.

We'll also want to ask about the relation of the two halves of book 13. What possible relevance could the love of Polyphemus for Galatea and the transformation of Glaucus, which make up the second half of the book, have to the prized armor of Achilles and the devastation of Troy?

Curiously sandwiched between the tragic Troy tale and the somewhat grotesque tales of the smitten Cyclops and the man-turned-half-fish we find the beginnings of the wanderings of Aeneas. His story will take up a good deal of Book 14 as well.

One excellent resource to look to as we move into the Roman myths of these final books is Peter Meineck's talks on Roman Mythology. The lecture entitled "Trojan Ancestors: The Myth of Aeneas," as well as two later lectures on Virgil's Aeneid will be seen to have many resonances with things we've been talking about lately, including our recent discussion of the Iliad in relation to Ovid's re-visioning of it in Book 13.

Meineck also has a 92-page pdf Roman Myths course booklet that's free for downloading. It includes brief summaries of his main points as well as additional supporting materials. It's here. A good family tree for Aeneas is here. This useful map of Aeneas's wanderings (click to enlarge) is from Parada, here.

Wanderings of Aeneas

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