Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Roman Studies


A.G. McKay


This dissertation is an attempt to study and comment upon the text of Aeneid 11. In so doing it has been necessary to trace the literary origins of the characters concerned in the hope that this would give some consistent direction to their characterization.

Since the world's first historians had been Greeks who had associated history with epic poetry, considering that "history owed its technique and its very existence to Homer and other Greek poets" and that "Athenian tragic drama in the fifth century B.C. ... also influenced Greek historical writing" (M. Grant. The Annals of Imperial Rome, 10), history and poetry were inextricably woven together as Vergil's Shield of Aeneas clearly indicates (Aeneid 8.626 ff.). That this rapport would have some bearing upon Vergil's work is an aspect noted by a number of scholars who see the Aeneid in terms of allegory, a point of view which I have attempted to explore in treating Aeneid 11.

In assessing Vergil's major heroes and his heroine Camilla, it was necessary to evaluate both descriptions and behaviour patterns of other major characters throughout Vergil's epic. As a result of this, my awareness of Vergil's knowledge of ambiguous writing techniques grew and it seemed to me that a subtle manipulation of mythology and Roman history would provide an excellent vehicle for both characterization and narrative of outstanding personages of Vergil's own era.

Vergil's deliberate yet sensitive treatment of his major characters, his variatio in the use of typology, his highlighting of motivation and interests, of the horrors of war in which the young and frequently the innocent suffer on both sides, his recording of public debates between prominent politicians and pen portraits of regal furiosae, all find their counterparts in the period of civil strife which ensued after the assassination of Julius Caesar. The sympathy and humanitas of Vergil for all concerned, mirrored in his generally successful attempt to write aequo animo, might be summed up in Aeneas' desperate groan as he views the battle-scenes and carnage depicted on the walls of Juno's temple at Carthage: sunt lacrimae rerum et mentem mortalia tangunt (Aen.1.462).

McMaster University Library

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