In the Aeneid men, women, gods, and goddesses are characterized by the speeches assigned to them far more than by descriptions of their appearance or behavior. Most of the speeches are highly emotional and individualized, reminding us of the most powerful utterances of Greek tragedy.
Gilbert Highet has analyzed all the speeches in the Aeneid, using statistical techniques as well as more traditional methods of scholarship. He has classified the speeches; identified their models in earlier Greek and Latin literature; analyzed their structure; and discussed their importance in the portrayal of character. He finds that Vergil used standard rhetorical devices with discretion, and that his models were poets rather than orators. Nevertheless, this study shows Vergil to have been a master dramatist as well as a great epic poet.
Originally published in 1972.
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