"Agmine facto" : rampant rhetoric in Aeneid I

20 Oct 2010

This article is the product of continued research in Vergil's pictorial imagery, a topic addressed earlier in a paper on the Laocoon episode of the Aeneid, which appeared in the 2001 edition of SAJAH. The poet's visual rhetoric seems to remove the barriers traditionally imposed on poetry and the literary arts, and his verbal palette contains all the descriptive elements indigenous to painting, cinema, and sculpture. The convoluted verse results in the strategic placement of words to convey visually the images in his narrative format. These observations remain the premise on which I have based my commentary on the first major event of the epic, the storm sequence of Bk i. A "catalogue raisonne" provides a survey of the art inspired by the passage dating from early Italian Renaissance through the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. There ensues a transposition of the exegesis to the author's visual interpretation in an attempt to mirror Vergil's painter-like and sculptural qualities in the genre of abstract expressionism and to evoke once again Horace's humanistic doctrine on poetry and the visual arts, "ut pictura poesis".