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A new take on the Aeneid, drawing previously unexplored connections between Vergil’s fictional world and its political context

Table of contents

Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Politics of the Past: The Aeneid in Augustan Rome
Chapter 2. Cultural Memory in the World of the Aeneid
Chapter 3. Once and Future Troy: Trauma, Identity, and Continuity
Chapter 4. Rhetoric and Resistance: National Identity in Turnus’ Tota Italia
Conclusion. Memories That Move, Pasts That Persuade: The Aeneid and Beyond
General Index
Index Locorum


Constructing Communities in Vergil's Aeneid: Cultural Memory, Identity, and Ideology presents a new examination of memory, ethnic identity, and politics within the fictional world of this Roman epic, drawing previously unexplored connections between Vergil’s characters, settings, and narrative and the political context of the early Roman Empire. This book investigates how the Aeneid’s fictive ethnic communities—the Trojans, Carthaginians, Latins, and Arcadians who populate its poetic world—are shown to have identities, myths, and cultural memories of their own. And much like their real-life Roman counterparts, they engage in the politics of the past in such contexts as royal iconography, diplomacy, public displays, and incitements to war.

Where previous studies of identity and memory in the Aeneid have focused on the poem’s constructions of Roman identity, Constructing Communities turns the spotlight onto the characters themselves to show how the world inside the poem is replicating, as if in miniature, real forms of contemporary political and cultural discourse, reflecting an historical milieu where appeals to Roman identity were vigorously asserted in political rhetoric. The book applies this evidence to a broad literary analysis of the Aeneid, as well as a reevaluation of its engagement with Roman imperial ideology in the Age of Augustus.

Tedd A. Wimperis is Assistant Professor of Classical Languages at Elon University.

“This is a compelling and ambitious book. The author tackles the complex and very timely topic of the construction of ethnic identity and cultural memory in Vergil’s Aeneid from a methodology influenced by cultural memory studies, historicist approaches to ancient literature and at times postcolonial theory.”

- Elena Giusti, University of Warwick

“This work is a valuable contribution that sheds new light on a much-debated issue. Its insightful readings and clear expositions make the monograph a useful resource for both Vergil’s scholars and non-specialists.”

- Giulio Celotto, University of Virginia