To Enchant Readers

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:
To Enchant Readers

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This chapter returns one more time to Seneca's aper çu about the Georgics, this time to linger on its first clause: to enchant readers. It maps out the “psychagogy” of the Georgics, primarily but not exclusively by showing how Vergil represents and evokes the passions while talking about rustic things. His techniques for doing so can be studied by considering three fundamental aspects of the text. The first is its content: when the work is set against its sources, it is often possible to see Vergil gravitating toward material related to the passions, or adding content rich in pathos to that which lacks it. Second is its use of rhetoric: the language of the Georgics features a wide range of classic rhetorical figures, everything from anaphora to personification, which have the effect of amplifying its emotive force. Thirdly, there is the poem's narratology, which refers to the way the text attributes passions, not just to the various domestic and wild fauna it describes, but to the narrator and in some cases to the addressee, whose emotional reactions are prescribed by the text as if by a script.

Keywords: Vergil; Georgics; Seneca; aper çu; psychagogy; rhetoric; narratology

Chapter.  18212 words. 

Subjects: Classical Literature

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