Study Guide

The Aeneid Primitiveness

By Virgil

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Images of primitiveness in the Aeneid help to situate the action in the distant past, from the perspective of Virgil's day. You can see this most clearly in the scene where Aeneas and his men sail up the Tiber, through a countryside inhabited by nymphs and other woodland creatures who have never seen a ship before. And yet, as King Evander explains, even the rustic kingdom of the Arcadians is not truly a pristine holdover from the Golden Age, but a pale reflection of it after the Age of Iron, when men have to work for their food. Virgil's depiction of the primitive ways of life serves as a reminder of what must be left behind for civilization and empire to take their course.

Questions About Primitiveness

  1. Which does the Aeneid show in a more positive light: primitiveness or civilization?
  2. Are the Arcadian people truly primitive?
  3. Does the Aeneid view civilization as fundamentally destructive?
  4. Does the Aeneid portray primitiveness as more peaceful than civilization?

Chew on This

The Aeneid argues that only advanced civilization can restore the benefits of a primitive society.

The Aeneid paints a negative portrait of life in cities.

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