Why do rednecks resort to violence and Neanderthal grunts when they lose arguments?

I have a little more time on this library computer to respond to you and all the anger that is coming to a crescendo as the moon becomes full and emotionally disturbed boys and girls fill up the hospital rooms, drunk tanks and jail cells (for becoming violent defending Dubya's most historically incompetent administration.

After a little taste of Adderall, I am inspired to write many pages to draw as many comments from misinformed plebians as possible. I am very excited that this site is getting so many hits (of course, at least 90% of the comments are from angry rednecks,more than Virgil's guestimation of hostile hits)..... I am trying to concentrate but there a kids having a continual conversation while surfin' the "internets".

I need to get out of here, before the caucasian feces hits the fans....
and talk to folks a little higher on the bell curve and more open minded (the definition for liberal is generous and open minded)

This library puter won't copy Virgil's eloquent comment so I don't have the ability to critique his essay that is well above average for a Bubba). His writing is effective and he does have good points about the impending danger of the rising level of testosterone which causes an acceleration of violent redneck tendencies (i.e cornering a liberal in the restroom)

I will not go back to this pub for a while ....it is much safer in KC and other areas of the world where violence is not a way to solve problems!



    Mahesh P. Sardesai
    Brown University

    Virgil wrote the Eclogues, Georgics, and Aeneid under the unmistakable influence, and with the support, of Augustus. Accordingly, Virgil's literature provides elements of propaganda for the consul turned emperor, revealing many favorable and illuminating characteristics of Augustus' policies and endeavors. Virgil's own negative opinion of warfare and chaos, arising from his underlying attachment to pastoral tranquillity and simplicity, often conflicted with the true attributes of the Augustan regime. In crafting his poetry, Virgil accommodates with considerable finesse the immediate need to extol the values underlying Augustus' actions while simultaneously propounding his own aversion to the bellicosity of the Augustan regime and the Roman empire.

    Virgil's first poetic endeavor, the Eclogues, exposes his pacifist tendencies by depicting the unadulterated pastoral atmosphere as the ideal realm of existence. From the first lines of Book I, we see his caring and dutiful portrayal of the countryside in its splendid beauty and natural productivity. At the same time, Meliboeus expresses his concern about aberrant and inauspicious events: a mother goat abandons her newly-born twins on a bare rock, and a lightning bolt strikes a treetop.[1] In the context of the impending influx of Roman soldiers into the countryside to create veterans colonies,[2] Virgil highlights the ramifications of Roman conquest and expansion. To Virgil, these activities are not the predecessors of a more peaceful and stable lifestyle, but rather of the repugnant unnatural aspects of civilization: regimentation, militarism, and displacement.

    In his aversion toward the turn of events, Virgil delivers a tactful yet striking blow to the warlike nature of Augustan ascendancy. Meliboeus, observing Tityrus unabashedly reclining in the shade composing pastoral verse in the face of the impending Roman incursion, inquires about the identity of the god that has provided his leisure. Tityrus expresses his feeling of how Rome, under the leadership of a powerful god therein, "has raised her head among the other cities / High as a cypress-tree above the guelder-rose."[3] As the poem progresses, though, the two shepherds contemplate the prospects for a continuation of their familiar, peaceful province. Realizing that the increasing might of the Roman empire and its assimilation of foreign lands has made possible the traversal of vast distances, Tityrus broods about the futility of trying to preserve their present pastoral realm as the very same specter of Rome approaches.[4] In his frustration, Meliboeus exclaims that a "godless veteran"--a "barbarian" moved to such inconsiderate and hateful actions by the civil warfare brewing among "Rome's wretched citizens"--would take over his fields and evict him.[5] Having understood the ramifications of the oncoming military campaign from their viewpoint, the shepherds rescind their earlier impression of Rome as a god, or at least distrust its ability to control its armies. The same army that Augustus relied upon for his domestic campaigns at the time of writing of the Eclogues suddenly lacks its worthy, omnipotent leader.

    Virgil makes especially conspicuous the unsuitability of war and hostility in the pastoral setting in Eclogue IX. He thereby foreshadows the incongruity in his later works of having indications and representations of Augustus' military accomplishments nestled within settings that fundamentally resist finding benefit in war. The focus in Eclogue IX is on Moeris, whose master has been dispossessed of his "little farm" by a "stranger" from the Roman military--one who cannot comprehend the value of this diminutive property to the humble shepherd, now "defeated" as if overpowered in battle.[6]

    The Georgics continue and intensify this struggle between the Virgilian ideals of the countryside and the belligerent tendencies of the Augustan city. Virgil's inclination toward the placid provincial life removed from the ravages of war is adroitly summarized in an excerpt from Book II: "How lucky, if they know their happiness, / Are farmers, for whom, / Far from the clash of arms, the earth herself, / Most fair in dealing, freely lavishes / An easy livelihood."[7] This attitude contrasts sharply with the "iron laws on tablets" and "cold steel" that Virgil uses shortly thereafter to typify the "affairs of Rome" and its "treacherous feuds of brother against brother."[8] This allusion to the civil wars that characterized Augustus' rise to power echoes a more explicit reference toward the end of Book I, wherein Virgil lets the topic of astronomical omens develop into a desperate entreaty for the resolution of internal strife. As he did in Book I of the Eclogues, Virgil shows the unfavorable repercussions of the ubiquitous warfare on the country lifestyle he cherishes: "The fields, bereft of tillers, are all unkempt, / And in the forge the curving pruning-hook / Is made a straight hard sword."[9]

    Remarkably, though, Virgil also fashions within this episode an equally powerful statement of propaganda. Anticipating an end to the civil chaos, Virgil names Octavian alone as being sufficiently capable of bringing an end to the warfare. The poet appeals to the gods and the eminent figures of Roman heritage to lend their help to Augustus Caesar in this mission: "Do not prevent at least this youthful prince / From saving a world in ruins."[10] In turn, this reflects a desire on the part of Virgil at the beginning of Book I for Augustus Caesar to provide his blessings and support to his literary undertaking and, in the same invocation, to the farmer's lifestyle that is continually ravaged by the devastating civil wars: "But smooth my path, smile on my enterprise, / Pity with me the unguided steps of farmers, / Come forward, and learn already to answer prayer."[11]

    As documented in Georgic I, the Virgilian attitude against war becomes particularly entangled with the reality of civil war in the time of Augustus. While a member of the Second Triumvirate with Antony and Lepidus, the young Octavian battled the assassins of Julius Caesar at Philippi in 42 B.C. This was merely one of five wars that Augustus waged against fellow Romans. Nevertheless, when he fought Antony at the Battle of Actium, Augustus sought to publicize the confrontation as a foreign war against his Egyptian wife Cleopatra, rather than a civil war, in order to garner more support from the Roman people.[12]

    The Battle of Actium is depicted in Book VIII of the Aeneid on the shield crafted by Vulcan for Aeneas, alongside the subsequent homecoming procession for Augustus after his triple triumph in 29 B.C. The scenes carved onto the resplendent shield show momentous events symbolic of Roman triumph and prowess--the birth of Romulus and Remus, the banishment of Tarquinius Superbus, and the defense of the Capitol against the Gauls among them--but the Battle of Actium, placed at the center of the shield, is something different. While Virgil does fervently acclaim Augustus' great triumph, he simultaneously thwarts the emperor's attempts to disguise the event as a foreign war by identifying Antony as the primary opponent, followed by his wife Cleopatra. Additionally, Virgil highlights the slaughter of animals as sacrifice, in stark contrast to the shepherding of animals and tending of flocks expected in the Eclogues.[13]

    To understand the motivation for Virgil to uncover the inconsistency between the true nature of the war and Augustus' version, it is necessary to understand that the primary impetus behind Augustus' military expeditions was vengeance. As explained by Suetonius, "[t]he underlying motive of every campaign was that Augustus felt it his duty, above all, to avenge Caesar and keep his decrees in force."[14] His decision to construct a shrine to Mars the Avenger illustrates the importance of this sentiment (impius furor) to Augustus. Nevertheless, an adversarial nature of vengeance is far removed from Virgil's conception of the ideal life as exhibited in the Eclogues and Georgics.

    The Aeneid, then, consists of more than simply the story of Aeneas' return from the Trojan battlefield. In light of the foundation set in Virgil's first two works, the Aeneid can be regarded as Virgil's expansive analysis of the ongoing trial between placidity and brutality. From the very beginning, the two attributes are juxtaposed in the form of Aeneas the pious and Juno the vengeful. Intent upon thwarting destiny and preventing Aeneas from founding Rome, Juno beseeches Aeolus to release a torrential storm on the Trojan fleet. In his invocation of the Muse, Virgil expresses his disillusionment over the conflict between anger and forbearance in the context of confrontation between the goddess Juno and the mortal Aeneas: "what was the wound / to her divinity, so hurting her that she, / the queen of gods, compelled a man / remarkable for goodness to endure / so many crises, meet so many trials? / Can such resentment hold the mind of gods?"[15]

    On multiple occasions in the Aeneid, Virgil elucidates his disapproval of warfare and his particular aversion to civil war. After Aeneas and his men escape Juno's storm and settle on land, Jupiter foretells the founding of an archetypal civilization by Aeneas. Romulus and Remus together (the former not having murdered the latter) will govern peaceably, with the instigating spirits of war confined to the Temple of Janus, never to be released.[16] In Book VII, Evander tells about the erstwhile prosperity that accompanied the reign of Saturn, only to be shattered by the conflict of the ensuing "depraved and duller" age, "with war's insanity and love of gain."[17]

    As shown in the description of Vulcan's shield, propaganda in favor of Augustus assumes a special style in the Aeneid compared to the Eclogues and Georgics. In the epic, Virgil often aggrandizes the emperor's image in the context of historical precedent. From the moment the Trojan soldiers land in Italy in Book VII of the Aeneid, Virgil describes the Italian countryside as a place of impressive fertility, tranquillity, and diversity of life. The land is rich and productive with deep forests, abundant groves, and nourishing fountains. The Tiber River takes on a special role of attracting varied birds and beasts to its banks, as well as replenishing the landscape with its waters.

    Beyond his descriptions of the scenery, though, Virgil highlights the characteristics and customs of the kingdom of Latinus. Thus, Virgil draws an important connection with Augustan Rome, delineating those aspects of the emperor's rule that are most in keeping with the poet's peace-loving nature. Among these are the long-lasting peace that persists during the later part of his rule, the veneration of Apollo, and the respectful display of ancestral idols. Such references could conceivably arouse only patriotic sentiment in the hearts of Roman readers at the time the poem was published. Coupled with popular admiration of the emperor's renewal of Roman urban monuments and architecture,[18] emphasizing the esteemed historical descent of ceremonies and traditions observed in the revitalized city would serve as effective propaganda for Augustus.

    Praise of Augustus is also a key factor in Book VI, when Aeneas' late father Anchises relates to his son the destiny of the Roman civilization that the latter has yet to found. Anchises hails the reign of Augustus Caesar as the return of a golden age to Rome, an age of peace and prosperity "in fields where Saturn was once king."[19] More significantly, Anchises also mentions how the Roman empire will expand to tremendous proportions, assimilating territory in distant Africa and central Asia. Unlike elsewhere in the Virgilian opus, this activity is portrayed in a majestic rather than disapproving light, rivaling the greatest accomplishments of the gods: "For even Hercules himself had never / crossed so much of the earth."[20]

    Nevertheless, the emperor's expansionist tendencies fail to secure blanket endorsement from the Aeneid. Developing further the technique he employed in Eclogue I, Virgil depicts how the preparations for conflict between the Rutulians and the Trojans agitate what was previously an undisturbed rural landscape; "Ausonia, once at rest, unmoved, is now aflame."[21] The people of the various Latin races use peacetime implements and natural products from their farms to finish their weapons. Tallow ends up lubricating javelins, grindstones sharpen new arrowheads, willow is woven into frameworks, domestic horses are yoked for chariots. Still, Virgil goes one step further, conveying how the traditional pastoral values that treasure peace, harmony, and devotion to the land are being subverted along with the barnyard commodities in the war effort: "The honor and the love that once was theirs / for plowshare and for sickle yield to this; / for this they forge anew their fathers' swords / in furnaces."[22]

    As the episode of battle unfolds, Virgil beseeches the help of the Muses to remember the events of the battle accurately, to remember "what men graced lovely Italy even then; / what arms set her ablaze."[23] Beyond the question of "what arms set her ablaze," Virgil also approaches the unresolved question of "why arms set her ablaze." Although the war will fortify the Trojans' claims on Latin territory, and although fate has ensured that Aeneas will survive to found Roman civilization, the poet does not ignore the fact that the various Latin races, divided between the camps of Aeneas and Turnus, are fighting a civil war, thus forsaking his cherished and pacific values of kinship and cooperation implicit in his descriptions of nature and the pastoral lifestyle.

    The most appalling example of the triumph of vengeance over discretion, though, comes at the end of the epic. Aeneas overpowers Turnus in individual combat, an episode which Virgil describes in a manner similar to Aeolus' stormy attack at Juno's request upon the Trojan fleet in Book I. The defeated and humbled Turnus entreats the pious Aeneas for mercy and, by calling forth the memory of Anchises, reminds Aeneas of his father's sage advice: "[T]o teach the ways of peace to those you conquer, / to spare defeated peoples, tame the proud."[24] Yet at this crucial moment where all the principles of piety and pacifism that Virgil esteems highly could converge beautifully, Aeneas instead loses all sense of composure upon seeing Pallas' belt on Turnus' body. The pious Aeneas, the hero who at the start of the epic is contrasted against the fury of Juno, now "aflame with rage,"[25] ignores both the plea for mercy and the advice of his late father and brutally kills Turnus. "His limbs [fall] slack with chill; and with a moan / his life, resentful, [flee] to Shades below" in a manner reminiscent of how Aeneas' own "limbs fall slack with chill" when his fleet is ravaged by Juno's storm at the outset.[26]

    This turn of events at the close of the Aeneid contradicts Virgil's peaceful nature yet reflects the reality of Augustus' treatment of those he conquered in military campaigns. Not surprisingly, Augustus himself wrote about his merciful nature toward prisoners and foreigners,[27] but these self-aggrandizing descriptions do not entirely agree with exogenous accounts. Suetonius provides a lengthy description of how Augustus "showed no clemency to his beaten enemies"[28] Brutus and Cassius after the Battle of Philippi. In the same way that Aeneas is moved by the death of Pallas to savagely kill Turnus, Augustus was so moved by the memory of Julius Caesar's assassination that he deprived Brutus a proper burial. Likewise, Augustus showed no mercy to the soldiers who supported the failed revolt of Lucius Antonius. After the latter surrendered, Augustus offered hundreds of higher-ranking soldiers on the Ides of March--the anniversary of Caesar's assassination--as human sacrifices.[29]

    The pacifist position that Virgil undertakes in his writings does indeed conflict in many instances with his attempts to cast the emperor Augustus in a favorable light. Because the rise of Augustus to power entailed numerous armed conflicts at great cost, Virgil has to contend with the sensitive and often troubling concerns of those people displaced and maltreated by war versus the obligations and desires of those who wage war in the first place. The techniques that Virgil applies in handling this daunting task are instructive of the issues underlying his disapproval of war, the motives behind Augustus' military and administrative actions, and Virgil's literary prowess at incorporating these influences into his works.


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