ABSTRACT

The traditional approach, set forth by Heinze, nuanced by Poschl, and disseminated in the Anglophone world by Eliot, is basically “optimistic”: Aeneas serves as the ideal hero of ancient Rome, the Aeneid celebrates the achievements of Augustus and his age, and the poem endures as a monument to the values of order and civilization. There is, however, a lot of ground between Lactantius and Arnold. Nevertheless, at least now and again these five scholars caught a glimpse of an Aeneid that is not bathed in “the clear sunshine of the Augustan enlightenment.” The Augustan culture that traced its origins to Aeneas marked the high point of Roman civilization, always more accessible to the Latin West than Greece and positioned now in center stage by Petrarca and his followers as the moral and spiritual model for their new cultural movement.