Sponsored by the Department of World Languages and Literatures, the Lee Honors College, the University Center for the Humanities, and the Department of History
Louisiana State University
Thursday, April 4, 2013
1028 Brown Hall
Vergil wrote his famous epic poem the Aeneid toward the end of a century in which Rome—and Italy along with it—changed dramatically: after nearly a century of civil war, Rome came to encompass all of Italy, and while everyone in Italy was now "Roman," what that meant was unclear. The Aeneid tells the story of how the Trojan Aeneas, ancestor of the first Roman emperor Augustus Caesar, came to Italy to be the forefather of the Romans. But the poem is not just about the creation of a new country; it also explores the process by which one comes to love one's new country. Aeneas, like all of these new "Romans," had ties to the place where he was born as well as to Rome. This emotional problem, of how to deal with loving two fatherlands, is central to nation-building and faced by colonists and immigrants alike, and it finds expression in the Trojans' journey in the first half of the Aeneid, which dramatizes the process whereby Aeneas comes to love Italy before he ever sees it.
Image: The Trojan Fleet Encounters a Storm at Sea (Vatican City, Biblioteca Apostolica, MS Vat. lat. 3867, fol. 77r, detail)