restricted access The Secondariness of Virgilian Epic and Its Unprecedented Originality
Abstract

Virgil’s epic obsessively laments its inferiority with respect to its Homeric model, and yet the creation of reflexive, self-lacerating interiority is itself a radical new departure. It turns into an original invention of prophetic revelation through reflection on history projected as a future destiny to be embraced and realized on the strength of an inner conviction and conversion issuing in self-sacrificial action. Obliterated as a man by his mission, Aeneas is no Odysseus, but the emptying of all meaning from his present existence opens a register of historical meaning generated by the interacting absences of past and future. History is thereby made into typology, yet its very hollowness as a supposedly triumphal procession exposes a deeper dimension of committed realization of visionary truth. Prophecy emerges not as magical forecasting of the future but as impassioned interpretation of the shape of events as a whole anticipated through enactment of history’s imagined goals.


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