By Richard Heinze

Heinzes examine, initially released in German in 1903, is still a vintage of Virgil scholarship. This translation makes the publication to be had in English for the 1st time.

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Sample text

Now, Aeneas could have carried these sacra [sacred objects] with him when he comes down again from the citadel, but this solution is prevented by the same religious considerations which later (717) make it necessary for Anchises to carry them, since Aeneas himself is bloodstained and must not touch them. So too the worst sacrilege committed by Diomedes and Odysseus was considered to be that they had dared to lay bloodstained hands on the image of the goddess (167). Thus one tradition, known to us only from the Tabula Iliaca, proved very convenient for Virgil.

Later on in the poem, Virgil mentions both traditions, 87 without giving any impression that the auspicium was something as yet unknown, or that belief in auspices began on these occasions. 88 Instead of a flash of lightning, a star crosses the night sky, leaving a long, shining trail, but it comes with all the phenomena that accompany lightning, thunder on the left out of a clear sky, and sulphurous smoke. However, all the attendant circumstances correspond so closely with the rites of augury and yet arise so entirely from the situation that we may be justified in calling it an aition [traditional explanation]: for this is the nature of such aitia, that a practice, which is constantly repeated in later times, is explained in all its details by the particular circumstances of a unique situation.

And we become witnesses of what is perhaps the Trojans' only piece of good fortune, and then of its inevitable unfortunate outcome. It was probably Virgil himself who introduced into the story of the sack of Troy the stratagem of exchanging armour though doubtless there were historical precedents;55 it is also natural that the Trojan would be able to tell the story of an incident which does not appear in the Greek accounts of the victory; only an excess of invention would have been a misjudgement.

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