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From Ignobile Vulgus to Rerum Dominos:The Emergence of the Roman Crowd in Vergil's Aeneid.

O'Bryan, Erin Elizabeth (2011) From Ignobile Vulgus to Rerum Dominos:The Emergence of the Roman Crowd in Vergil's Aeneid. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Aeneid 1 presents the Romans as the "lords of the world," and the heirs of a destined imperium sine fine (1.279-282). In a stunning deviation from the normal epic conventions, Anchises in his prophecy calls them out by name, "tu…Romane" (6.851), addressing everyone from Aeneas' illustrious descendant Augustus down to the humblest member of the poem's audience. In the Aeneid, "the people" cannot afford to serve - as they do in Homeric poetry - more or less solely as accessories to the sense of fame and honor (the kleos) of individual heroes. In an epic in which the man in the crowd of both past and present has a stake, the Trojan people, as the precursors of the Roman people, must serve as a character in their own right. To this end, an analysis of the attributes of the various crowds of the Aeneid reveals that they more closely resemble the dangerous and unruly crowds of Rome's history than any of the fanciful crowds of the epic universe. This affinity is clear from the outset: the first simile of the poem compares the calming of the upstart winds by Neptune to the calming of an ignobile vulgus by a respected statesman (Aeneid 1.148-153). In his picture of the Trojans, the soon to be incorporated Italians, and other crowds, both human and divine, Vergil has painted a comprehensive picture of the quest "to found the Roman race" (Romanam condere gentem, 1.33) by telling the story of the ancestors of that race, the sometimes ignobile vulgus who are destined to become the rerum dominos. In the realm of epic poetry, the crowds of Vergil are exceptional. With a better picture of this entity that plays so decisive a role in the history of the nation, the Aeneid can be viewed not merely as an Augustan epic, but a fully Roman one.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
O'Bryan, Erin Elizabetheeb21@pitt.eduEEB21
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairSmethurst, Maemsmet@pitt.eduMSMET
Committee MemberMiller, Andrewamm2@pitt.eduAMM2
Committee MemberLooney, Dennislooney@pitt.eduLOONEY
Committee MemberPossanza, Markpossanza@pitt.eduPOSSANZA
Date: 29 September 2011
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 27 May 2011
Approval Date: 29 September 2011
Submission Date: 26 June 2011
Access Restriction: 5 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 5 years.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Classics
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Crowd in Vergil's Aeneid; Roman crowd; Roman crowd behavior; Roman mob; Trojan crowd; Trojan crowd behavior
Other ID:, etd-06262011-213346
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:48
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:45


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