Monday, March 7, 2011

Here are two scenes from book two. Compare/contrast the two, commenting on the context and characters. Please cite specific Latin to prove any points and remember NOT to simply summarize.

Laocoon, ductus Neptuno sorte sacerdos,
sollemnis taurum ingentem mactabat ad aras.
ecce autem gemini a Tenedo tranquilla per alta
(horresco referens) immensis orbibus angues
incumbunt pelago pariterque ad litora tendunt; 205
pectora quorum inter fluctus arrecta iubaeque
sanguineae superant undas, pars cetera pontum
pone legit sinuatque immensa uolumine terga.
fit sonitus spumante salo; iamque arua tenebant
ardentisque oculos suffecti sanguine et igni 210
sibila lambebant linguis uibrantibus ora.


Vestibulum ante ipsum primoque in limine Pyrrhus
exsultat telis et luce coruscus aena: 470
qualis ubi in lucem coluber mala gramina pastus,
frigida sub terra tumidum quem bruma tegebat,
nunc, positis nouus exuuiis nitidusque iuuenta,
lubrica conuoluit sublato pectore terga
arduus ad solem, et linguis micat ore trisulcis. 475

19 comments:

Caroline David said...

The first passage describes what would begin Laocoon's (ductus Neptuno sorte sacerdos - a chosen priest of Neptune) encounter with two snakes (angues). As he sacrifices a bull, the snakes writhe out of the ocean and approach Laocoon in a rather intimidating fashion.

The second passage illustrates Pyrrhus' entry into Priam's house. In these lines, Pyrrhus is compared to a snake who has eaten a fair share of grass (coluber...gramina) as he arrives in a slippery, eager manner.

These scenes obviously both feature snakes. Although used in different ways, the symbolism that accompanies these creatures suggests that an unfortunate situation is likely to occur in the near future. Justly so, each passage preludes such. Laocoon is later killed by the snakes, and Pyrrhus, like a snake, proceeds to kill Priam and his son. Therefore, the passages are also similar in that they both foreshadow death.

But both passages are unique. The second is mostly a simile that compares Pyrrhus to a snake, while the first is simply a description. Laocoon is killed by snakes for offending the gods, while Pyrrhus kills others like a snake.

Chrysanthe said...

These two scenes display the inevitability of Troy’s destruction using foreshadowing and vivid imagery. In the first, Laocoon, who attempted to warn the Trojans of the Horse’s treachery, is about to be attacked by gemini… angues, two giant twin snakes who come from Tenedos (II.203-204.) Tenedos, one might recall, is the island behind which the Greek fleet is hiding in their ruse. In the second scene, bloodthirsty Pyrrhus, the son of the late, great Achilles, is being compared to a snake with a trisulcis linguis (475) who has devoured mala gramina (471)– both misconceptions (snake poison does not come from eating toxic plants, nor are their tongues three-pronged) but the imagery still works, building up for the snake’s impending strike.
Both passages use the idea of a snake or snakes being hostile to Trojans and having some link to the Greeks. In the first, the memory of such snakes causes Aeneas, the narrator, to horresco referens, to shudder at the thought of the terrible scene (204.) He recounts how the snakes, presumably unnoticed, swim silently from Tenedos to Trojan shores where Laocoon is preparing to sacrifice a bull, not realizing that he is in a sense about to be sacrificed to the wiles of fate. It is significant that the snakes arrive from Tenedos, an island whose good name will forever be sullied in literature as the nest of deceiving Greeks. In this way, the snakes represent how the Greeks will come into Troy and destroy the carefree city. The snakes also have iuba…sanguineae, crests that already seem to be bloodstained (206-207) and they are hissing as they glide (211). All this points towards the destruction of Troy with rich and terrifying imagery.
The second passage differs most significantly from the first because it is a simile, not Aeneas’ firsthand observation. In the second passage, Vergil again uses the snake imagery, but this time he pairs it with Achilles’ irreverent son, Pyrrus. In this simile, the snake (representing Pyrrus) is newly awakened from its hibernation and positis novus esuviis nitidusque iuventa- in a way, it is finally able to enjoy its rejuvenated body after the long winter. It is interesting to note (if you check the footnotes) that the word iuventa means “young manhood”, personifying the revitalized snake and further linking the simile to Pyrrus himself (473). Like the first passage, this second passage is very vivid. Vergil describes Pyrrus gleaming in his bronze armor (470) but the glorious image is made sickening by using lubrica to describe the snake. It is not so much that he is shiny but that he is greasy; he is not some fabulous war hero to be admired, like his father, but something more unpleasant and mildly nauseating (as we shall see in a later passage, he does turn out to be despicable and derisive, someone Priam declares is not worthy of being called Achilles’ son). In both passages, the literal and the metaphorical snakes are tasting the air with their linguis, sensing their way towards their prey-Troy.

Nick Raphaelian said...

Both of the Book II passages shown above utilize a serpent to depict the unfortunate events for Troy. However as both Chrysanthe and Caroline alluded to already, the stanzas are acutely different as the first is a straight description and the second is a simile.

The first piece presents Laocoon, Neptune's chosen priest (ductus Neptuno sorte sacerdos). As he sacrifices a massive bull (ingentem taurum) on the altar, twin snakes (gemini angues) emerge from the peaceful sea (tranquilla pelago) to punish him for his crimes against his selected god. Vegil uses bold imagery throughout the paragraph to describe the snakes. He claims their underbellies to be red as blood and uses the phrase "undulating backs" to depict their slithery nature.

While Vergil continues to use vivid portrayal in the second excerpt, he also adds in similes comparing Achilles' son, Pyrrhus, to a serpent. He describes Pyrrhus as "bearing bright bronze" and later compares that to the new skin of snake.

Vergil's sequence of events deserves recognition as well. His literal use of the snake in the earlier stanza with Laocoon perfectly sets up the simile comparing the creature's evil ways to Pyrrhus.

Chris Siefe said...

These scenes, although both scenes from book two that involve snakes, differ greatly.
The first scene is just after the trouble has begun. It is shortly after Sinon has come and told his story of "the offering" the Greeks have made to ensure a safe journey home. The second passage on the other hand is after the commotion and destruction in Troy has begun, explaining why Pyrrhus is running around "like a serpent" (qualis coluber 471).
As pointed out by my colleagues earlier, the first passage is more of an account whereas the second passage is a simile and does not actually involve snakes.

As far as the characters in this, to begin, the first passage pertains to Laocoon, a Trojan priest of Neptune chosen by lot (ductus Neptuno sorte sacerdos 201). The second to Achilles' son, Pyrrhus, a Greek.

In both passages, the snakes are described in great detail. The twin snakes in the first passage seem very intimidating with their raised chests (pectora arrecta 206), bloody crests (iubae sanguineae 206-7), and burning eyes (ardentis oculos 210). In the second passage, Pyrrhus is compared to a snake. This is snake is described differently, but still in great detail how it is new and shining (novus nitidusque 473) and with its slippery back (lubrica terga 473) and chest stuck up high (sublato pectore 473). In both scenes the snakes are described as having flickering tongues (linguis vibrantibus 211, linguis micat ore trisulcis 475), an image that Vergil must have used to further make the snakes in these passage more intimidating and ominous.

Victoria Alexander said...

In these two scenes a predator is depicted stalking their prey. Laocoon and Priam are the prey and the twin snakes and Pyrrhus are the predators. In comparing the two, we find some great similarities between the victims. First of all, both Priam and Laocoon are Trojan. Second, both men witness their own sons' deaths.

These similarities are both not stated in the text, but bring up questions about the Aeneid's attitude toward Greeks and Trojans. These texts seem to show that the Aeneid views Greeks as a more barbaric race in comparison to the Trojans describing Pyhrrus approach as if he was an animal (or a snake as others have mentioned). (469-472)

Although there are many similarities between the two there are some differences as well. One difference between the predators are their motives for their attack. The snake's attack was a divine command while Pyrrhus was killing for revenge. With this, one could make the point that Pyrrhus is more of a blood-thirsty animal than the snakes. This is because the snakes had no choice while Pyrrhus did this out of his own free will.

Tara said...

These two passages from book 2 are similar in that they both mention snakes, but they are different in how they integrate the animal into the story.

In the first passage the snakes are real animals that kill Laocoon, but in the second passage the snake is used as a simile to describe Pyrrhus.

In both passages after the snake is mentioned death usually follows soon after. Weather the snake does the killing or a snake like person does the killing (Pyrrhus).

Sofia Lochner said...

Both of these passages predict a gruesome fate for Troy. These passages are similar in the way that they both involve serpents, but contrast each other in the way that the first is a direct description of an event and the second passage is a metaphor. Both passages are very similar in the way that they both precede a passage about the death of sons and fathers.
The first passage is about the prelude to the death of Laocoon and his two sons. It describes two, blood-red crested serpents, gemin angues. These snakes writhe up onto the shores from the tranquilla alta, the tranquil deep. Vigil uses the word tranquil before the bloody deaths occur. This is interesting because later he also describes the city of Troy to be “drowned in sleep and wine”, right before the destruction of the city. The tranquil sea foretells how unsuspecting and vulnerable Troy will be. Also, the snakes purposefully kill Laocoon’s sons. The gods would not kill two innocent young men without a purpose. I believe that the death of the sons foreshadows the future destruction of troy. The boys represent the next generation of Troy; as youth is so often described as the future of a nation. The two snakes then go after their father showing that all of Troy is soon to be destroyed.
The second passage is a metaphor describing Pyrrhus, Achilles son, about to leap into battle. This passage allegorizes this man to a youthful snake (coluber). Pyrrhus is described as having a trisulcis linguis, a forked tongue, like a snake. Later Pyrrhus goes on to kill Priam’s son, Pollites. Priam is a witness to his son’s death, and then Pyrrhus proceeds to kill Priam. In the earlier passage Laocoon witnesses the death of his sons before the snakes take his life, which is very similar to Priams fate. This passage is similar to the first because both depict the impending doom of Troy through the ominous animal the snake.

Colin said...

The obvious similarity between these two passages is their use of snakes in similes and foreshadowing.

The first passage is the scene in which Laocoon is sacrificing a massive bull, latin is taurum, and two twin snakes come slithering out, gemini angues, to kill Laocoon for the offense of his god. The second passage portrays Pyrrhus and how he moved like a snake.

Both passages portray snakes in a negative light, as snakes have been shown throughout history. Also, in both passages, the snakes are symbolizing evil, and how it takes down good. However, a major difference is that in the first passage, the snakes were literal, while in the second passage, Pyrrhus' movements were just being described as being like a snake.

Charlotte G said...

The obvious thing these two passages have in common is they both involve snakes. In the first passage (lines 201-211) the snake comes out of the sea after Laocoon sacrifices a huge bull, taurum ingentem. As it comes to the shore it pectora arrecta (seems to stand on the water) and greatly frightens the people. The snake in the second passage is a simile for Pyrrhus as he enters the house of Priam. The snakes give off very negative connotations. Both snakes are flicking their linguas and have violent intentions. The first snake has eyes filled with sanguine et igni (blood and fire) as it comes toward the crowd at the alter. The second snake (Pyrrhus) we discover is also bloodthirsty when he murders Priam.

Caroline said...

These two passages use both literal and figurative descriptions of snakes to describe the downfall of two important Trojans. The horrific deaths of these two men foreshadow the destruction of Troy.

The first passage involves the literal snakes who bring down Laocoon. Laocoon, the Trojan who attempted to warn his countrymen of the trick behind the Trojan Horse, is about to be attacked by two snakes. The snakes swim from Tenedos, the island behind which the Greeks and their ships are hiding. Therefore, the snakes represent the Greeks and how they came to Troy planning on destruction. The snakes also have bloodstained crests, hinting that they (the Greeks) are beastly animals (206-207).

The second passage, unlike the first, is a simile. Here Pyrrhus, the son of Achilles, is compared to a vile snake. The snake is said to be (470) glittering in his bronze armor, but (as Chrysanthe mentioned) he is described as slimy rather than glistening etc. This demonstrates how Pyrrhus was not a glorious war-hero like his father, but rather an irreverent boy. This also foreshadows that Pyrrhus is a cruel killer, as we later see with his murder of Polites.

These two passages have deep symbolic meaning and provide considerable foreshadowing. Both represent forthcoming tragedies for the Trojans.

Paige Marshall said...

The two passages clearly use snakes but in different ways. The first passage involves Loacoon and his literal meeting with the snakes as he sacrifices a massive bull (ingentem taurum). Pyrrhus is compared to snakes in the second passage by being slimy in bronze armor. this describes him well for his later killing of Pollites. Both passages use snakes to relate to the loss of troy and the death of its' men.

Eric said...

The first scene depicts the death of Laocoon by twin snakes. The scene contains an overall sense of evil through the description of the snakes' bloodied chests (iubae sanguineae) and burning eyes (ardentis oculos). The second scene compares Pyrrhus, the son of Achilles, to a snake. The comparison shows that Pyrrhus is ready to kill and is a ruthless fighter. Evidence for this comes from the snake's raised chest (sublato pectore) and its flickering tongue (linguis ore micat trisulcis).

Both scenes use snakes to resemble evil and to foreshadow a dangerous future. The first scene used the snakes in a literal action of killing Laocoon, which showed a grim fate for Troy's future. While the second scene used a simile that compared Pyrrhus to a snake, foreshadowing the gruesome acts that Pyrrhus will commit later on.

Anjuli said...

As stated by my lovely and illustrious classmates, the obvious similarity between the two passages is the snakey business. But I disagree with the idea that the main difference between Snakey Business #1 and Snakey Business #2 is that the former is literal and the latter is a simile.

I think the most important difference is that Snakey Business #1 symbolized what the Trojans thought was righteousness and the presumably deserved vengeance of the gods, whereas Snakey Business #2 was used to depict evil (in the form of Neoptolemus, or Pyrrhus).

The Dardanians believed Laocoon was being struck down by the gods for having thrown a spear at the wooden horse; so, not wanting to anger the gods further (sensible of them) they chose to accept the "gift" of the Greeks. I would say Virgil was very careful to outline and clarify that logic, in an effort to prove to us that the Trojans were in fact not stupid. Virgil was telling a story about the founding fathers of Rome, and he couldn't make them look like idiots. So he shows us in detail that they did not fail to suspect treachery or take the Greeks blindly into their city; and he gives us very good reasons for their eventual decision to accept the horse. E.g., they had seen what happened to those who showed hostility toward the horse and they didn't want to join Laocoon and his sons in the belly of the snake. So in the minds of the Trojans, the gemini angues of the first passage were certainly a harsh judgment, were certainly terrifying, but were not actually evil.

On the other hand, the snake described in the second passage is Pyrrhus, son of Achilles; and to the Trojans, he is undoubtedly evil. After he slaughters Polites in front of his father Priam, king of Troy, Priam denounces Pyrrhus as unworthy of his father (who was at least an honorable enemy.) The latter passage describes him -- that is, Pyrrhus -- as tumidum, lubrica, mala gramina pastus; swollen, slimy, and fed on poisonous herbs. There is a clear image given here of something vile and malevolent, rather than an instance of the gods smiting an offending mortal.

Brian said...

In the conclusion of book II, Aeneas' wife Creusa appears to him as a ghost, being "larger than life". before she appeared, Aeneas was calling out in vain Creusa's name, being very worried that she would be lost forever to him. when she appeared, Aeneas was stricken with fear, from both seeing a ghost and realizing his beloved Creusa got dead. after appearing, she gave a speech to not be afraid and not to grief, and tells him of his future, like being destined to marry a queen in Hesperia.

Another confrontation was when Aeneas came upon a suspicious huntress in the woods. at first she tried to persuade him that she was not divine, but Aeneas saw divinity in her gait and dress. Probably wanting the best for her son, Venus tried to keep her identity hidden to let Aeneas lead his own journey and to fulfilling his destiny on his own, without divine help. but she finally gives in and cloaks him in a mist so that he may survey Carthage unseen.

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