Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Virgil's Georgics has been the subject of a daunting number of articles, studies and commentaries. Of the many problems associated with the work perhaps the greatest difficulty has arisen in assessing the Aristaeus epyllion, G 4.315-558. Numerous attempts have been made to interpret the passage and to explain its connection with the rest of Book 4 and with the whole of the Georgics. Many opinions have been expressed (quot homines, tot sententiae); however, none has been deemed completely satisfactory and none has been universally accepted. I have chosen not to add the already vast body of scholarship dealing with these issues but to approach the epyllion from a different perspective.
Despite its importance-it is, after all, the only existing extended narrative by Virgil other than the Aeneid, which it predates-the Aristaeus epyllion has not been the subject of a single exhaustive study. I have attempted, therefore, to treat the passage in isolation, tacitly accepting that it is connected with the rest of the work. My study includes a reappraisal (with, I trust, fresh insights) of the relevant mythological background and structure of the piece. Its literary form, the epyllion is also discussed and a more detailed examination of setting and character than has been undertaken previously is presented. Finally, I offer a detailed critical appreciation in which Virgil's narrative technique, his use of literary models (especially, but not exclusively, Homer) and features of sound, rhythm and diction receive comment.
Belcher, Kenneth L., "Virgil's Aristaeus Epyllion: Georgics 4.315-558" (1993). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 2968.