The Aeneid Primitiveness Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Book.Line). We used Robert Fitzgerald's translation.
"Tough pioneer's our stock. Our boys are keen
At hunting, and they wear the forests out;
Their pastimes are horse-taming and archery.
Hard labor, too, and a life of poverty
Our young men are inured to: they can crumble
Earth with hoes or shake walled towns in war." (9.841-848)
From Evander's perspective, this wouldn't count as primitiveness. The tough, agricultural life Numanus describes sounds a lot more like the "meaner, tarnished age" he describes in the third quotation from this section as having replaced the original golden age. Still, if you look at what Numanus is saying, here and in the rest of his speech, he is definitely portraying his own peoples' life as more primitive than that of the dandified city dwellers he imagines the Trojans to be. Numanus places a different value on primitiveness than Evander does – not as providing a life of harmony and peace, but as making a nation tough enough for war.
Deft hands now made a pliant bed of wicker,
Arbutus shoots and oak twigs interwoven,
Shading the piled-up couch with screens of leaves.
Here on his rustic bed they lay the prince,
Most like a flower a girl's fingers plucked,
Soft-petaled violet or hyacinth
With languid head, as yet not discomposed
Or faded, though its mother earth no longer
Nourishes it and makes it stand in bloom. (11.87-95)
This description of the funeral of Evander's son Pallas reinforces the poem's depiction of the Arcadians as connected with the earth. This is achieved primarily through the simile (that is, a poetic comparison) that likens Pallas to a flower. And yet, if Pallas the Arcadian is like a flower, and a flower can be picked – and thus destroyed by the hand of man – what do these lines suggest about the potential fate of the rest of Arcadian society?
But gazing from the height we now call Alban—
Nameless then, it had no fame or glory—
Juno surveyed the plain, the facing lines,
Troy's and Laurentum's and Latinus' town. (12.182-185)
By taking care to indicate that the "height we now call Alban" did not yet have a name at the period when the Aeneid takes place, Virgil emphasizes the primitiveness of his poem's setting.