Ut celsas videre rates atque inter opacum
adlabi nemus et tacitis incumbere remis,
terrentur visu subito cunctique relictis
consurgunt mensis. Audax quos rumpere Pallas
sacra vetat raptoque volat telo obvius ipse
et procul e tumulo: `Iuvenes, quae causa subegit
ignotas temptare vias, quo tenditis?' inquit.
`Qui genus? Unde domo? Pacemne huc fertis an arma?'
Tum pater Aeneas puppi sic fatur ab alta
paciferaeque manu ramum praetendit olivae:
`Troiugenas ac tela vides inimica Latinis,
quos illi bello profugos egere superbo.
Euandrum petimus. Ferte haec et dicite lectos
Dardaniae venisse duces socia arma rogantis.'
Obstipuit tanto percussus nomine Pallas:
`Egredere o quicumque es' ait `coramque parentem
adloquere ac nostris succede Penatibus hospes.'
excepitque manu dextramque amplexus inhaesit.
How has Virgil characterised both Pallas and Aeneas in these lines to display their heroic qualities? (5 marks)
In this exchange between Pallas and Aeneas Virgil has brought to the fore important heroic qualities in each character. The boldness and youthful eagerness of Pallas is emphasised, while Aeneas in contrast is portrayed as more of an elder statesman, with great dignity and authority. Crucially, both are also presented, through their words and actions, as models of pietas.
Pallas’ pietas is seen from the very outset. We have previously seen him standing alongside his father offering sacrifices to Hercules, and now his devotion to the gods is shown again as he forbids his fellow Arcadians to break off their sacrifices (rumpere Pallas sacra vetat) and goes to meet Aeneas. Again, at the end of this passage, Pallas invites Aeneas (who is still a stranger to him – o quicumque es) to join him and his father in worshipping their ancestral gods (nostris succede Penatibus hospes), showing both his respect for the gods and his hospitality towards a stranger. Virgil further strengthens our impression of Pallas’ pietas as he welcomes Aeneas, grasping his right hand (dextram). Treaties play an important role in Aeneid VIII, and in this simple action Virgil conveys to us Pallas’ loyalty and trustworthiness.
We also see Pallas’ boldness and youthful eagerness in this passage. In line 110, the first time Pallas’ name is mentioned, Virgil applies the epithet audax (bold) to him, giving the word emphasis by positioning it at the start of the sentence. Pallas’ boldness is also in stark contrast to that of the other Arcadians, who are described in just the previous line as terrified (terrentur) by the sight of the Trojans’ ships. We see his bravery too in both his words and actions; he flies (volat) to meet the Trojans – Virgil’s choice of this dramatic word and the present tense adding to our impression of his bravery – picking up his weapons on the way (rapto… telo), and his barrage of short, sharp questions (qui genus? unde domo? etc) effectively conveys his eager fearlessness.
Pallas’ youthful enthusiasm stands in sharp contrast to Virgil’s characterisation of Aeneas. Virgil has portrayed Aeneas as solemn and dignified – describing him as pater Aeneas to emphasise these qualities, and placing him high on his ship (puppi… ab alta) to physically reflect his authority. His words to Pallas also have a dignified tone – he speaks in short simple phrases (e.g. Euandrum petimus) using language that effectively communicates his gravitas, such as the unusual proper nouns he employs (Troiugenas, Dardaniae) which elevate the register of his speech, the imperatives (ferte, dicite) which convey his authority, and the use of egere for egerunt which further adds to the formal tone. The impressiveness of Aeneas’ character is also indirectly seen in the effect his words have on Pallas who is clearly in awe of him (obstipuit, tanto percussus nomine).
Lastly, Aeneas’ own pietas is seen through both his words and actions. We see Aeneas offering an olive branch (paciferae… olivae) to Pallas as a symbol both of his peaceful intentions and of the treaty he hopes to make with the Arcadians. As with Pallas, this simple action, religious in nature, shows Aeneas as honourable and faithful, through his willingness to make and abide by treaties. This is further seen in his words to Pallas, when he emphasises that he has come to make an alliance of arms (socia arma), again displaying the pietas which is such an essential element of his nature, and of heroic characters generally in the Aeneid.