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The Aeneid

The Aeneid


by Virgil

The Aeneid Memory and The Past Quotes

How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Book.Line). We used Robert Fitzgerald's translation.

Quote #4

'Take these things, too, and may they be remembrances
Of my hands, child, and token of my love,
The long love of Andromache, Hector's dearest.
Final gifts of your own people: take them,
You that alone remind me of Astyanax.
His eyes, his hands, his look—all were like yours.
He would be your age, growing up like you.' (3.648-653)

Here we see another way that the past can continue into the present: when something in the present serves as an echo of what has gone before. As with the second quotation under this theme, how do you think this notion relates to Virgil's project of commenting on contemporary history by writing a poem about things that (supposedly) happened a long, long time ago in a galaxy…OK, in the same galaxy?

Quote #5

In that high sculpture you, too, would have had
Your great part, Icarus, had grief allowed.
Twice your father had tried to shape your fall
In gold, but twice his hands dropped. (6.47-50)

Like the third quotation for this theme, these lines show the fragility of the past. They also connect with the fourth quotation for this theme by showing the past as vividly remembered in the present. In this case, they show how when the past is too immediately present and painful – as the death of his son Icarus is for Daedalus, the famous inventor and decorator of the gates of the Sibyl's temple – it can risk being forgotten, because it hurts too much to remember it.

Quote #6

(Anchises): "These other souls, When they have turned Time's wheel a thousand years, The god calls in a crowd to Lethe stream, That there unmemoried they may see again The heavens and wish re-entry into bodies." (6.1004-1008)

Here, Anchises is describing the process the souls of the dead have to undergo before they can be reborn into new bodies. Because our memories are so much a part of our identity, do you think it really makes sense to think about these souls, once reincarnated, as the same people? What do you think it says about Virgil's conception of history if he sees the world as a cycle of souls continually dying and being reborn, yet never remembering their former lives?

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