Aeolus' Destructive Storm

December 20, 2017
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In book 1 of “Aeneid”, Juno persuades Aeolus, king of the winds, to help her in destroying the Trojans in return of stable marriage to a beautiful nymph. Here, Aeolus’s immediate response is very impressive, as he stirs up a massive storm that wipes out many of the Trojans and their ships. The stylistic and structural devices used throughout Vergil’s description of Aeolus’s storm strongly portray the destructiveness of the storm by integrating different methods of perception such as thinking, hearing, seeing and speaking.

Vergil employs figurative language such as simile and personification to allow the readers to envision the powerful characteristics of the storm in their minds. “Ac venti velut agmine facto” (line 82), translating into “and the winds, like an army made”, is a good example of simile. The comparison of the winds to an army presents the storm as having belligerent characteristics like that of an army. Personification is used in the sentence “eripiunt subito nubes caelumque diemque Teucrorum ex oculis” (line 88), meaning ‘the stormclouds suddenly snatch away the sky and daylight from the eyes of the Trojans’. The action of stealing, which is very human in itself, is enhanced even more because they are ‘snatching away’ from real humans, the Trojans.

Vergil’s use of sentence structure such as chiasmus, alliteration, and polysyndeton integrates the visual and aural senses to aid the understanding of the storm’s destructiveness. Both of the devices chiasmus and alliteration are found in the phrase “cavum conversa cupide montem” (line 81), meaning ‘he struck the hollow mountain with the turned spear’ in context. Because “conversa cupide”, the turned spear, is put in the middle of “cavum montem”, the hollow mountain, the image of the spear striking the mountain can be understood more easily. Also, the repetition of words that begin with the letter ‘c’, creates the cracking sound that would have been produced in that scene. Polysyndeton is utilized in the phrase “una Eurusque Notusque ruunt creberque procellis Africus” (lines 85-86), which means ‘Both the East wind and the South wind rush together, and the Southwest wind frequent with storm’. “Que”, meaning ‘and’, connects “Eurus”, “Notus”, and “Africus” together. The overabundance of “que” depicts how overwhelming the simultaneous movement of the three winds would be.

By incorporating meter, Vergil allows the readers to orally reenact a certain moment of the storm. Effective placement of breath is seen in “una Eurusque Notusque ruunt (creberque procellis)” (line 85), which means ‘together both the East wind and the South wind rush’ in context. The breath is placed between “ruunt” and “creberque”, and nowhere else, to emphasize the magnitude of the two winds rushing at once. Moreover, dactyls are used to portray images of fast and sudden action. First of all, in “cavum conversa cupide montem” (line 81), a phrase mentioned in the preceding paragraph, Vergil places a dactyl “cuspide” in between the spondees “cavum”, “conversa”, and “montem”. This is because “cuspide”, the spear, is the main source of action. The inanimate object ‘hollow mountain’ is divided with the fast and pointed spear. Another example can be found in “intonuere poli et crebris micat ignibus aether” (line 90), meaning ‘the heavens roared and the sky flashes with frequent lightning’. The dactyl used in “ignibus” represents the swiftness of the lightning bolt. The spondee used in “aether” represents the peaceful sky. By placing the dactyl “ignibus” before the spondee “aether”, Vergil shows the serene sky being disrupted by the lightning bolt.

In conclusion, Vergil uses devices such as simile, personification, chiasmus, alliteration, polysyndeton, and meter to evoke different senses of the reader, successfully emphasizing the destructiveness of the storm created by Aeolus.

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