Nobility in Rustication

Philip Thibodeau

in Playing the Farmer

Published by University of California Press

Published in print May 2011 | ISBN: 9780520268326
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520950252 | DOI:
Nobility in Rustication

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This chapter attempts to bring to the fore representations of leisure (otium) and villa culture in the Georgics. Despite realistic elements, these also constitute a fantasy that can be usefully analyzed in terms of its emphases and omissions, shaped by moral and aesthetic concerns. It first considers Vergil's use of prestige language—value terms like honor, Gloria, and dignitas, heavy in their social overtones—that are attached to elements of rural life. It then looks at the poem's habit of tracing the traditions of the countryside back to their origins in a mythological or heroic past, so that they acquire a dignified genealogy. It next analyzes the poem's representations of festivals within a rustic setting, in order to tie those images to aristocratic habits of euergestism and communal patronage. Finally, it takes a close look at the most extended and explicit account of rustication in the poem, the Laudes Ruris, “Praises of the Countryside” sequence at the end of book 2, observing how Vergil uses that passage to weave the aforementioned themes together.

Keywords: Vergil; Georgics; leisure; villa culture; fantasy; prestige language; rural life; euergestism; communal patronage; Laudes Ruris

Chapter.  16024 words. 

Subjects: Classical Literature

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