Leofranc's mention of Pallas in connection with Aeneas's fall from grace or pietas is important. For Aeneas, Pallas and his death have a resonance which sets off complementary harmonics (I hope I am using this comparison properly) throughout a number of relationships, beyond the immediate. The most important of these is between Aeneas and Evander - for Aeneas is both the only son and the father of an only son, and in Evander he meets a man both like his father and like himself in that relation to one son. He is not merely reacting to the loss of a dear friend or even to a young man who has been commended to him, he is facing vicariously the loss of the only son and the desolation of the father, the loss that another poet will treat so poignantly in one of the finest passages in Old English, Beowulf lines 2444-62a when a father finds that now 'eall to rum/wongas ond wicstede'.
Helen Conrad-O'Briain
On 4 Oct 2004, at 18:34, Leofranc Holford-Strevens wrote:


In message <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>, Shawn Smith <[EMAIL PROTECTED]> writes

Yes, Aeneas has to sacrifice much, including personal
happiness; but that is the point, he *has to*, just as
Agamemnon, faced with a choice, *had to* sacrifice his
daughter. It is no use breezing in from another culture, or
even some other point within the same culture, and saying one
would have made the opposite choice (Antony, it could be
said, had done so): it is morally impossible for *them*,
committed as they are to a morality in which individual
happiness is not the overriding goal.


Excellent point, but if it is impossible for Aeneas not to fulfill his
destiny, why does Mercury have to remind him of his task in Aeneid 4 when he
has apparently settled down with Dido--an apparent neglect of his duty?
Because he is human, and needs from time to time to be reminded.
Aeneas may be duty bound, but doesn't the significance of that duty depend
on our awareness of how much he is giving up? We could blame it all on the
gods, but doesn't the success of Vergil's narrative depend to some extent on
a tension between divine will and mortal will? When we are told that Dido
has died before her time, and not according to fate, aren't we given an
example of a character who has defied the will of the gods?
And much good it did either her or anyone else.

Yesterday I saw _The Trojans_ at the Coliseum. Interesting to
hear the Carthaginians complaining at Dido's neglect of her
duties in her besottedness with the stranger; which set me
thinking how criminally selfish she is to abandon her people
for death just because her heart is broken, monarchical
irresponsibility at its worst. Aeneas transcends his
individual self, Dido does not.

I'm not entirely convinced that Dido is being selfish here. Isn't there
something noble about her assertion of the human will in the face of the
gods who have not done right by her? What would you have her do, marry
Iarbas?
If from the political point of view that was the best for her people, yes; if not, steel herself to lead them (or find a man to lead them) into battle against him. Certainly not to leave them unprotected for the sake of her individual will and personal sense of injustice.

A Christian concerned with personal salvation might be
regarded as no less selfish than a pagan or a secularist
concerned with personal happiness, or indeed with personal
integrity. (If you could have assassinated Hitler in the
certain knowledge that you would both save the world from
many evils and go to hell, would you have done it?) However,
it is not obvious from history that Christian commanders have
in fact been less ready than Aeneas to sacrifice personal
righteousness for the greater good, or at least the greater end.

But doesn't really address the particular sacrifice I was talking about.
Isn't it problematic that Aeneas ignores his father's instructions to spare
the conquered at the end of the poem? Why does he have to make this
sacrifice, in particular?
Indeed, precisely because a son ought to obey his father, and pius Aeneas above all people. Perhaps because he is human, which comes before being humane; given his feelings for Pallas, strange to many a modern but few ancient males, it could even be called a form of pietas, but if not, then, if you aren't prepared to say that is what war is like and are convinced that you, or some other man, would not have behaved likewise, then the one occasion on which Aeneas allows his human feeling to prevail over moral principle, and therefore is not the plaster saint he has so often been accused of being, calls human feeling into question no less than anything that happened in Carthage.

Leofranc Holford-Strevens

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Leofranc Holford-Strevens
67 St Bernard's Road usque adeone
Oxford scire MEVM nihil est, nisi ME scire hoc sciat alter?
OX2 6EJ


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