Critical issues in the interpretation of Virgil’s Aeneid

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The module is intended for students of the corso ordinario, for whom the first half is specifically intended, but can also be usefully taken by PhD students. A good knowledge of Latin is expected.




The module aims to (a) provide a diachronic analysis of some of the most important critical issues in the interpretation of the Aeneid; particular attention will be devoted to its reception in modern scholarship; (b) offer the critical tools necessary for analyzing the poem, including the tradition of ancient and modern commentaries; (c) focus on a detailed reading of book 1, esp. on its narrative structures, intertextual models, themes and expressive forms.

Students taking this course for the first time are also required to attend the introduction to Latin philology offered by Dr. Emanuele Berti.

Educational aims

Upon successful completion of the module, students should have acquired a detailed knowledge of (a) the Aeneid and some of the most important interpretive issues; (b) the instruments for carrying out an in-depth analysis of the poem, including how they have evolved over time; (c) the contemporary critical perspectives on the Aeneid, which can also provide a stimulus towards a personal critical approach to the poems.

Bibliographical references

Reference edition

G. B. Conte, Bibliotheca Teubneriana, Berlin - Boston 2019 (2nd ed.) 


Introductions to Virgil

Camps, W. A. 1969. An introduction to Virgil’s Aeneid, Oxford (trad. it. Milano 2008)

Hardie, P. R. 1998. Virgil, Oxford

Holzberg, N. 2008. Virgilio, Bologna (ed. orig. tedesca München 2006)

Keith, A. 2020. Virgil, London


Key monographs on the Aeneid

Barchiesi, A. 1984. La traccia del modello. Effetti omerici nella narrazione virgiliana,Pisa

Conte, G.B. 1980. Il genere e i suoi confini. Cinque studi sulla poesia di Virgilio, Torino

-          2002. Virgilio. L’epica del sentimento, Torino

Farrell, J. 2021. Juno’s Aeneid: a battle for heroic identity, Princeton - Oxford

Feeney, D.C. 1991. The gods in epic: poets and critics of the Classical tradition, Oxford

Fowler, D. P. 2000. Roman constructions: readings in postmodern Latin, Oxford (spec. capp. 2, 5, 8, 10, 11, 12)

Hardie, P.R. 1986. Virgil’s Aeneid: cosmos and imperium, Oxford

-        1993. The epic successors of Virgil: a study in the dynamics of a tradition, Cambridge

-        2014. The last Trojan hero: a cultural history of Virgil’s Aeneid, London – New York

Heinze, R. 1993. La tecnica epica di Virgilio, Bologna (Leipzig 19143 [19031]). Cfr: Conte 2002: 125-37;

Johnson, W.R. 1976. Darkness visible: a study of Vergil’s Aeneid, Berkeley

Knauer, G. N. 1979. Die Aeneis und Homer. Studien zur poetischen Technik mit Listen der Homerzitate in der Aeneis, Göttingen2 (19641)

La Penna, A. 2005. L’impossibile giustificazione della storia. Un’interpretazione di Virgilio, Roma-Bari

Lyne, R.O.A.M. 1987. Further voices in Virgil’s Aeneid, Oxford

-        1989.     Words and the poet: characteristic techniques of style in Vergil’s Aeneid, Oxford

Nelis, D. 2001. Vergil’s Aeneid and the Argonautica of Apollonius Rhodius, Leeds

O’Hara, J. 2017. True Names. Vergil and the Alexandrian Tradition of Etymological Wordplay, Ann Arbor2  (19961)

Otis, B. 1963. Virgil: a study in civilized poetry, Oxford (rist. Norman, OK and London 1995, con ‘Foreword’ di W. W. Briggs, Jr.)

Pöschl, V. 1950. Die Dichtkunst Virgils. Bild und Symbol in der Äneis, Innsbruck1 [Berlin 19773]. Trad. inglese The art of Vergil: image and symbol in the Aeneid, Ann Arbor 1962

Putnam, M.C.J. 1965. The poetry of the Aeneid. Four studies in imaginative unity and design, Cambridge, MA

Putnam, M.C.J. 1988. The poetry of the Aeneid, Cambridge Mass. (19651)

-          1995. Vergil’s Aeneid: interpretation and influence, Chapel Hill, NC

Quint, D. 1993. Epic and empire: politics and generic form from Virgil to Milton, Princeton

Thomas, R.F. 2001. Virgil and the Augustan reception, Cambridge