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3. How are we to interpret the images on the Shield of Aeneas?
About this Lecture
In this module, we think about the different ways one can interpret the images on the shield of Aeneas, focusing in particular on: (i) the forging of the shield by and its presentation to Aeneas in Book 8; (ii) the scenes from Roman history that appear on the shield and their links with other descriptions of Rome’s future greatness in the poem; (iii) the lack of an interpreter to explain to Aeneas – or to the reader – what the images on the shield actually connote; (iv) a pro-Augustan reading of the shield, i.e. the shield is an object that shows Augustus’ greatest military victory in the centre and images representing his four cardinal virtues around the outside – and some issues with this reading; (vi) a more pessimistic reading of the shield, i.e. the shield depicts episodes from Roman history that allude to Roman criminality, violence and civil war; and (vii) the importance of Virgil’s description of the shield as a non enarrabile textum (‘a text beyond all words to describe’).
In this course, Dr Sharon Marshall explores Virgil’s Aeneid through five key questions. In the first module, we think about whether the Aeneid should be read as a pro- or anti-Augustan poem. After that, we explore the nature of the relationship between Dido and Aeneas. In the third module, we ask how we (and Aeneas himself?) should interpret the images on the Shield of Aeneas. In the fourth, we think about the figure of Aeneas himself and his attitude towards Rome’s imperial destiny. And finally, in the fifth, we think about the distinctiveness of Roman epic as a whole and the ways in which Virgil engages with the epic tradition as represented not just by Homer, but also by Ennius.
Dr Sharon Marshall is Senior Lecturer in Classics and Ancient History at the University of Exeter, specialising in Roman epic, love elegy and the Roman novel.
Cite this Lecture
Marshall, S. (2020, January 15). Virgil: Aeneid - How are we to interpret the images on the Shield of Aeneas? [Video]. MASSOLIT. https://www.massolit.io/courses/virgil-aeneid-sharon-marshall/how-are-we-to-interpret-the-images-on-the-shield-of-aeneas
Marshall, S. "Virgil: Aeneid – How are we to interpret the images on the Shield of Aeneas?." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 15 Jan 2020, https://www.massolit.io/courses/virgil-aeneid-sharon-marshall/how-are-we-to-interpret-the-images-on-the-shield-of-aeneas