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Title: Vergil and Philodemus
Author: Freer, N. W.
ISNI:       0000 0004 5358 1056
Awarding Body: University College London (University of London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2014
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This dissertation explores the relationship between the poetry of Vergil and the texts and doctrines of the Epicurean poet and philosopher Philodemus in the light of papyrological evidence confirming Vergil’s association with Philodemus and his Epicurean school on the Bay of Naples. I show that Vergil engages extensively with a wide range of Philodeman intertexts in the Eclogues, the Georgics, and the Aeneid, and suggest ways in which an appreciation of these interactions may inform our interpretations of Vergil’s poetry. I argue that Philodemus’ views on ethics and poetics, his epigrams, and his Epicurean exegesis of Homer are all reflected in Vergil’s works, multiplying its interpretative possibilities. Although Vergil appears to engage in a close dialogue with Philodemus throughout his poetic career, I find that he is by no means a doctrinaire student, but an intelligent and at times combative reader of his teacher’s texts and doctrines. My first chapter discusses Philodemus’ life in Italy, his surviving works, and his influence within Roman society, before reviewing the evidence for Vergil’s Epicurean education under Philodemus. In the next chapter I argue that Vergil’s conception of poetry in the Eclogues and the Georgics was shaped to a large extent by the Epicurean theory of poetry elaborated in Philodemus’ treatises On Poems and On Music. My third chapter analyses Vergil’s representation of anger throughout the Aeneid in the light of Philodemus’ treatise On Anger. I suggest that Philodemus’ theory of anger provided an important model for Vergil’s characterisation of a range of major figures, including Aeneas, Turnus, Dido, Amata, Juno, Mezentius, and Nisus and Euryalus. In the fourth and final chapter I examine Vergil’s interaction with a number of possible Philodeman intertexts in the Carthage episode in Aeneid 1 and 4, through which he appears to invite an Epicurean reading of the values and motivations of the Carthaginians and the Trojans.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available