In his description of the boat race in the fifth book of the "Aeneid", Vergil's comparison of the ships to chariots can be read not only as an allusion to the Homeric model on which the scene is based but also as part of a larger attempt to recast the episode as a contemporary circus spectacle. Like the Augustan circus, Vergil's boat race offers an image of cosmic and political order. However, beyond its symbolic function the Roman circus also played an active role in realizing the hierarchies it depicted by incorporating its spectators into a unified vision of state and universe. So the boat race too, far from constituting a hiatus in the action of the poem, becomes an instrument for the socialization of those who watch it. The spectacle gives its audience a glimpse of the gods in action and of the leadership of Aeneas himself, whose past accomplishments are reflected in the conduct of the captains. Moreover, the careful organization of internal audiences within the narrative allows every spectator to identify with another figure closer to the center of events and, by extension, invites Vergil's own readers to see themselves as participants in the scene. Thus Vergil uses the model of circus spectacle to bridge the gap separating his audience from the epic past by restaging that past in a form that both was a part of the immediate experience of the contemporary Roman and also provided a crucial context for the constitution of Roman civic life.

[Footnotes]

[Footnotes]
1
Hom., Od. 4.70 and 13.81-83
Enn., Ann. 463-64
Skutsch, and Cat. 64.9.
P. Hardie, "Ships and Ship-Names in the Aeneid," in Homo Viator (Bristol, 1987) 163-65, esp. n. 13.
O. Skutsch, The Annales of Quintus Ennius (Oxford, 1985) 624-25.
J. Conington, P. Vergilius Maronis Opera, vol. 23 [London, 1876] 346.)
Enn., Ann. 79-81
2
Conington (supra, n. 1) 109.
3
B. Otis, Virgil: A Study in Civilized Poetry (Oxford, 1963) 52-53.
4
Il. 23.450ff.
5
R. D. Williams, P. Vergili Maronis Aeneidos Liber Quintus (Oxford, 1960) x-xi.
F. Cairns, "The Games in Homer and Vergil," in Vergil's Augustan Epic (Cambridge, 1989) 215-48
6
N. B. Crowther, "Greek Games in Republican Rome," AntC1 52 (1983) 268-73
M. Fulvius Nobilior in 186 B.C.E., which Livy (39.22.1-2)
7
Dion. Hal. 3.68.2
J. Humphrey, Roman Circuses (Berkeley, 1986) 73-74.
8
Dion. Hal. ibid.
9
P. Zanker, The Power of Images in the Age of Augustus (Ann Arbor, 1988) 67-68.
10
Ibid.71.
11
"Imp. Caesar divi f. Augustus Pontifex Maximus Aegypto in potestatem populi Romani redacta soli donum dedit" (ILS 91).
G. W. Bowersock, "The Pontificate of Augustus," in K. A. Raaflaub and M. Toher, eds., Between Republic and Empire (Berkeley, 1990) 380-94.
12
Cass., Var. 3.51.8
13
M. L. W. Laistner, JRS 11 (1921) 266.
de spect. 8-9
Var. 3.51
Corippus, In laudem Iustini Augusti minoris 1.314-44.
Averil Cameron [London, 1986] ad loc.
Pliny the Elder [36.71]
14
Cass. ibid.
15
E. Rawson, "Discrimina Ordinum: The Lex Julia Theatralis," PBSR 55 (1987) 83-114.
16
Alan Cameron, Circus Factions (Oxford, 1976) 59
Averil Cameron (supra, n. 13).
19
P. Hardie, Cosmos and Imperium (Oxford, 1986) 313-25.
20
P. Hardie (supra, n. 1) 164.
21
Serv. ad Aen. 5.258
22
K. M. Coleman, "Launching into History: Aquatic Displays in the Early Empire," JRS 83 (1993) 48-75.
Dio 66.25.2-4.
Mart. Spect. 28.5-6.
27
Chimaeram (5.118).
Hardie (supra, n. 1) 167
29
Cic., In Cat. 1.1
30
M. C. J. Putnam, "Game and Reality," in The Poetry of the Aeneid (Cambridge, Mass., 1966) 66.
31
M. Myerowitz, "The Domestication of Desire: Ovid's Parva Tabella and the Theater of Love," in A. Richlin, ed., Pornography and Representation in Greece and Rome (New York and Oxford, 1992) 131-158, esp. 146-47.
32
S. G. Nugent, "Vergil's 'Voice of the Women' in Aeneid V," Arethusa 25 (1992) 255-92.
33
Cairns (supra, n. 5) 230-31
Odyssey 8.
34
hanc tibi, Eryx, animam pro morte Daretis persolvo, 5.83-84
P. Hardie, The Epic Successors of Virgil (Cambridge, 1993) 19-56, esp. 51-52.
35
Liv. 1.28.2
36
Williams (supra, n. 5) 142.
37
Williams (supra, n. 5) 184
38
CIL I. 594
40
R. Heinze, Vergils epische Technik3 (Leipzig, 1915) esp. 361-73
B. Otis (supra, n. 3).
D. Fowler, "Deviant Focalisation in Virgil's Aeneid," PCPS 216 (1990) 42-63, esp. 42.
44
Williams (supra, n. 5) 117.
This content is only available via PDF.