How and to what purpose does Virgil use ekphrasis in the Aeneid

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How and to what purpose does Virgil use ekphrasis in the Aeneid?
Virgil’s use of ekphrasis in the Aeneid has attracted much attention by classical scholars; as such the coverage on this topic is extensive. This essay therefore does not aim to purport all of Virgil’s techniques and aims in regard to describing art in the Aeneid – a subject on which entire books have been written – rather the brevity of this essay necessitates an overview of the predominant theories, whilst attempting to shed light on some of the less well noted observances. Where it is more informative the original Latin text will be employed. West’s translation will be used everywhere else.1
The first point to make is on the nature of an ekphrasis. The term ekphrasis …show more content…

The to-and-fro nature of the ‘tides of war’ episodes look forward to the battles that swing back and forth in favour of the opposing armies.24 The slaughter by Diomedes of Rhesus and his men, adopted from Iliad 10, foreshadows the night raid of Nisus and Eurylaus in Book 9. The description also relates to the later narrative through repetitious diction. For instance ‘cruentus’ here describes Diomedes;25 later when Nisus, like the Iliadic Diomedes is described as a lion,26 he has an ‘ore cruento’.27 The essence of the tragic downfall in Book 9 is caused by Euryalus’ greed. This is described as ‘prodidit’,28 the same language used to describe the sleep that was ‘prodita’ to Rhesus and his men.29 In this way Virgil foreshadows events in the Italian war, not just through subject but also verbal double-meaning.
A crucial

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