The Humanness of Heroes: Studies in the Conclusion of Virgil's Aeneid

The author, a distinguished classical scholar, sheds new light on the controversial ending of one of the most acclaimed epic poems in the Western tradition, Virgil's Aeneid. Examining the savage rampage upon which Aeneas embarks in the tenth book of the poem, Putnam traces the sources and manifestations of the hero's emotions, and concludes with a detailed reading of the poem's closing lines. An epilogue surveys the relationship between Virgil's denouement and aspects of Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin and Twain's Huckleberry Finn. Each chapter is an exercise in close reading, which is to say, in scrutinizing the writer's art as it enhances the ideas its masterpiece projects. Through an examination of human values and of the ways they are shaped and delineated by a great imagination, the book aims to further the position of Virgil as one of the most original of poets in our humanist canon, himself emulating Homer but deeply influential on the literature of our world, from Dante to Derek Walcott and Seamus Heaney.