Introduction by Holly HavelEdit
William Anderson’s interpretation of the Aeneid in book 11 compares closely with that of many other interpreters including Bernard Knox, Joseph Farrell, and R.O.A.M. Lyne. With all of their techniques in mind, we see that it is common for an interpreter to focus on certain words and grammatical structures. In Knox’s interpretation of the serpents, for example, he explains the significance of certain words that imply the characteristics of a serpent. Joseph Farrell identifies the roles of fathers in book 5, Aeneas and Anchises in particular. In a broader scope, he teaches us the method of understanding relationships between characters by the repetition of certain words and phrases. Similarly, Lyne draws attention to the diction and grammatical aspect to understand the significance of Lavinia’s blush. William Anderson, in addition to all of these critics, points out the sadness prevalent in book 11 of the Aeneid. Anderson is not alone in highlighting important and prevalent words to create a detailed analysis of Virgil’s word choice and of the Aeneid as a whole. Virgil only wrote on average two or three lines of the Aeneid a day. These scholars are not wrong in focusing in on the repetition of certain words, considering Virgil chose each and every word very carefully.
In his interpretation, William Anderson illustrates the significance of the sad language used in book 11 to portray the idea that it is the saddest book in the Aeneid. Anderson supports his thesis thoroughly and persuasively with detailed evidence. However convincing his argument may be, the ideas of sadness and misery are depicted throughout the entire Aeneid and are the main driving forces for Aeneas and his men. The Latin word “maestus”, meaning sadness, may appear eleven times alone in book one, but Virgil uses other words and phrases that depict the same sorrow in all books of the Aeneid. It is very important, in the context of book 11, to understand that it is a book full of gloom and grieving. However, in the grand scope of things, we must comprehend that the same sorrow is a link to illustrate other scenes of sadness. We must not only pay attention to the sorrow in book 11, but also to the sadness that acts as a driving force in every book of the poem. Anderson’s general technique, among the many other interpreters, is very important to understand Virgil’s writing and to maintain a greater knowledge by using Virgil’s common themes.
Part One: The Sadness of Book XIEdit
In his article, “Aeneid 11: The Saddest Book”, William S. Anderson sets out to prove that chapter eleven of The Aeneid is the saddest chapter of the book. He splits the book into three sections where sadness is the driving theme behind the plot of the story. In part one of his article, Anderson argues that Virgil enhances the sentiment of sadness in the book with the death and grievances of Pallas. Virgil exaggerates the feeling of gloom, by showing Aeneas weeping a number of times due to the death of Pallas and also by including lamenting women into the scene. In part two, Anderson states that Virgil focuses the sadness on the Italians. The people of Latium are fearful because they are aware that they have no chance of defeating Aeneas without the aid of Diomedes. Anderson also claims that this fear and sadness caused Turnus to wildly and irrationally, prepare to go to battle with Aeneas. Lastly, in his third section, Anderson focuses on the sadness of Camilla, who was killed in a cowardly fashion by Arruns. Anderson also claims that Camilla’s death generates sadness because she never receives the spoils that she was so obsessed with.
Part Two: Anderson’s TechniqueEdit
William Anderson does a great job of using The Aeneid as evidence to prove his argument that book eleven is indeed the saddest book. However his reading techniques are not very original or sophisticated. His main technique in proving his argument is focusing on the usage and frequency of certain words. In this case, he focuses on the number of times that the word “maestus”, which means full of sadness or sorrowful, appears in book eleven of The Aeneid. Anderson notes that the word maestus appeared fourteen times in the first eight books, however, it appeared eleven times in book eleven alone. He uses this statistic as justification for his argument that book eleven is the saddest book of The Aeneid.
Anderson uses the actions of the characters and the effect that their actions have on the reader to back up his point. He writes that, “Characters within this poem weep, groan, and desperately grieve over what has happened to them and their loved ones, and Vergil’s famous subjective style quickly engages our feelings too” (Anderson 196). Anderson claims that the weeping, concerns, and mourning of the characters as well as the effect those actions have on the reader prove that the book is sorrowful. Hence in this instance, his technique consists of focusing on the character’s sad actions throughout the book.
Anderson also focuses on the reason why “maestus” appears in book 11 so many times. For example, the word maestus relates to Turnus because it is his motivation to recklessly prepare himself to go to war with Aeneas. Due to his feeling of sadness because his city will soon be destroyed by Aeneas, he irrationally sets out to go to war and ambush Aeneas in a desperate attempt to save himself and his country. Sadness has a direct relation to Camilla as well. Her death is perceived as sad and sorrowful because she was ambushed from behind before she could kill Chloreus and prove that she is not only a great hunter but also a great warrior. Anderson also shows how the word maestus relates to the Trojans. He shows that not only Aeneas’ sorrow is caused by the death of Pallas, but the sorrow of Evander and all the other Trojans is caused by Pallas’ death. In other words, Anderson’s technique also includes showing how sadness affects the individual characters, thereby declaring the entire chapter as sorrowful.
Part Three: The Pain and emotion of Book IEdit
Following the same techniques as William Anderson, it can be argued that book one is the most painful book of The Aeneid. Pinpointing on the number of times that the word “pectore” appears in this book, it would not be far-fetched to argue that this is the most painful book. Virgil uses the word thirteen times in book one. The word “pectore” actually means breast, chest or heart; however, Virgil’s usage of the word is a bit metonymic because there are a couple instances where the word is referring to a pierced heart or something hidden deep inside a heart that is causing an individual pain. On the other hand the mentioning of the word thirteen times could also prove that book one is the book most driven by emotions.
Throughout book one; some character’s actions are driven by the pain that they feel in their heart. For example, Juno has a deep hatred towards Aeneas and the Trojans for a number of reasons which includes the Judgment of Paris which deeply wounded her heart (pectore vulnus) and the fact that Aeneas is fated to destroy a city that is close to her heart, Carthage. Hence the pain that Juno feels in her heart makes her determined to hinder Aeneas’s journey to his new home by asking the God of wind to disturb the waters in attempts to destroy the Trojan ships. In this case the technique of finding the driving force behind the actions of the character is used to show just how essential pain is to this book.
There are also a few times in the book where Aeneas or a God has to soothe the emotions of others. The fact that so many hearts need to be soothed shows that they were in a state of concern initially. For example, when the Trojans are on their ships traveling the seas and a storm attacks them, they are in a frantic state until Neptune rises and soothes their hearts (pectora mulcet) by ending the storm. Another instance where the hearts of the characters is soothed is when Aeneas speaks to his comrades after they finally reach land. At the moment, his shipmates are depressed and extremely hurt because of all the struggles they have had to undergo without any rewards, so Aeneas provides them with a speech that calms their hearts and raises their spirits. Thus, Anderson’s technique of focusing on the driving force behind the actions of characters is indeed useful in proving not just that book eleven is an extremely sad book but also that Book one is a pain and emotion filled book.
--Meshach7 03:09, February 11, 2011 (UTC)