The Aeneid

"I Stood There Alone": A Close Look at lines 2.730-2.742 of Virgil's Aeneid

In lines 2.730-2.742 of Virgil's Aeneid Aeneas is describing the terror that hefelt when he finally realized that Troy was falling to the Greeks. In these ten linesVirgil uses careful diction to create an image of a solitary Aeneas pausing for a briefmoment to observe the demise of his city. By elaborately detailing each of Aeneas'sthoughts Virgil achieves an effect of time slowing down: To the reader, it seems thatthe frenzied action of a city coming to its knees is slowed down while one mancollects his thoughts. On another level, Aeneas is describing his terror to QueenDido and her court, and he is attempting to evoke a strong sense of pity from hislisteners, the Carthaginians, whom he will soon need to help him build boats. In thispassage, Virgil's wording, imagery and subtle parallel meanings help him to create apassage that can be appreciated for the tremendous mental picture it elicits as wellas the numerous interpretations that can be found within it.

Virgil's precise choice of words greatly accommodates the metaphoricalmeanings of the passage. In the first line Aeneas says that for the "first time thatnight" he began to realize the dire state of affairs in that had befallen Troy. Thewords...

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