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Virgil's The Aeneid - The Fall of Troy. The use of simile and imagery.

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Introduction

Virgil's The Aeneid - The Fall of Troy The use of simile and imagery Throughout Book 2 of The Aeneid, Virgil uses a number of images to illustrate scenes of violence, drama, horror and emotion. Vivid similes are used to make scenes clearer in the mind of the audience; comparisons to which contemporary audiences could easily relate. Hence, his story-telling skills are brought out through his effective way of dealing with imagery. Virgil's vivid language and description is most effective when describing scenes of death and horror. The best example of this is the death of Laocoon, 'punished for his crime [of] violating the sacred timbers [of the horse] with his sinful spear'. The two serpents that rise out of the sea to kill him are described as horrific fiends. Virgil's vivid language conjures up the speed and terror of these monsters as they part the water. We can clearly imagine their immensity as the serpents approach - 'They held high their blood-stained crests...plough[ing] the waves behind them, their backs winding, coil upon measureless coil'. Their horrifying appearance is enhanced by the reaction of Aeneas and others present - 'I shudder at the memory of it...we grew pale at the sight and ran in all directions'. The scene closes with an effective simile comparing Laocoon's 'horrible cries' moments before his death to a wounded sacrifice - '[It was] like the bellowing of a wounded bull shaking the ineffectual axe out of its neck as it flees from the altar'. ...read more.

Middle

But in both cases, they are aware that they may face death, as Aeneas points out - 'We ran the gauntlet of the enemy to certain death'. The scene also brings out Aeneas' animalistic quality as the leading member of a pack of wolves. When speaking to his men, Aeneas shows his excellent leadership qualities - 'If your desire is fixed to follow a man who fights to the end, you see how things stand with us'. Virgil's imagery uses the snake theme again when he describes Androgeos' reaction to discovering that his allies are really his enemy. Androgeos reacts like 'a man...who steps on a snake with all his weight without seeing it, and starts back in sudden panic as it raises its wrath' We clearly see the fear of Androgeos as he realises he is about to die. The surprise and terror of finding a poisonous killer so close is cleverly portrayed. I think that Virgil is also comparing the Trojans to a deadly snake, enhancing their fearsome nature and ability to strike without warning. Androgeos experiences the 'sudden panic' of a man who realises that he is in danger. 'He was stupefied and started backwards without another word'. Much like the simile which compared Aeneas' men to wolves, and brought out his leadership qualities, a third simile helps us to understand his emotions. ...read more.

Conclusion

This is an extremely sorrowful comparison, which creates a great deal of sympathy for the Trojans. Virgil gives the tree living qualities by suggesting that it is wounded and dying due to the actions of the farmers, who represent the Greeks. The act of 'hacking' also suggests the slaughtering of the Trojan people, and implies that the Greeks outnumbered them. However, the simile also sheds a light of strength upon the Trojans. By comparing it to an 'ancient' ash tree, it is suggested that the city has stood for many years and remained strong after many enemy attacks. The fact that it falls having survived many wars previously suggests its strength. Therefore, the comparison can be viewed as one of both sorrow and respect. In conclusion, I feel that throughout Book 2 of The Aeneid, Virgil effectively makes use of a number of techniques, which allow him to express his ability to conjure lucid and efficient imagery. This is achieved through the use of similes, comparing humans to animals in order to bring out their animalistic qualities and emotions, and also similes comparing scenes of war to acts of natural disaster. As well as similes, Virgil's basic and simple choice of language allows him to conjure vivid images of horror, as well as to create a sense of sorrow and emotion. A.D. - Joseph Smith October 2004 1 ...read more.

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