Julius Caesar in Jupiter's Prophecy, "Aeneid", Book 1

Classical Antiquity 14 (1):5-40 (1995)
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The identity of the Caesar at "Aeneid", 1.286 is a long-standing problem. The prevailing opinion since Heyne favors Augustus, but a few scholars agree with Servius that the Dictator is meant. In recent years the suggestion that Vergil was being deliberately ambiguous has been advanced as a solution to the problem. I argue the case for Julius Caesar anew. The paper is in five sections. The first four deal respectively with the question of nomenclature; chronology; the descriptive epithets applied to Caesar, especially spoliis Orientis onustum in 289; and the rhetoric of the passage. The fourth section confronts the challenge posed to my reading by the well-known view of Ronald Syme, held to throughout his lifetime, that Julius Caesar was a virtual non-person in the Rome of Vergil's day because the princeps tried to avoid awkward comparison with the Dictator. But this view has been challenged, and I draw on recent work in this area. In the fifth and final section I support my reading with references to Vergil's earlier poetry, attending especially to what it can tell us about Vergil's attitude toward Julius Caesar. Of particular relevance is the use he makes of the sidus Iulium, an image found in the Eclogues and important in connection with the apocalyptic outlook abroad at the time of Caesar's assassination. This section of the paper expands on Servius' generally neglected note, which maintains that the Caesar in question is Julius.



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References found in this work

Tradition and Originality in Roman Poetry.Brooks Otis & Gordon Williams - 1971 - American Journal of Philology 92 (2):316.
Virgil's Roman Chronography: a Reconsideration.Nicholas Horsfall - 1974 - Classical Quarterly 24 (01):111-.
Horace.Edmund T. Silk & Eduard Fraenkel - 1959 - American Journal of Philology 80 (3):316.
Virgil and The Sibyl.Roland G. Austin - 1927 - Classical Quarterly 21 (2):100-105.
The Eclogues of Vergil.H. J. Rose - 1944 - Philosophical Review 53 (1):86-88.

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