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45.2.D'Anselmi

In this paper I analyze the implications of the loss of the local Italian patria represented in Vergil’s Eclogues 1 and 9. Recently, in his article “Virgil’s Eclogues and Social Memory,” David Meban posited that the fluid depiction of memory in the Eclogues is illustrative of the turmoil of the triumviral period. This is best shown in Eclogue 9, for instance, where none of the shepherds can clearly remember their songs. I, however, tie this loss of the shepherds’ memory in Eclogue 9 directly to the loss of the Italian patria mentioned in Eclogue 1. The triumviral period saw the rise of Rome as the communis patria, a transformation that was observed and much discussed by Cicero and others. Vergil opens Eclogue 1 with a noticeable break from the bucolic genre simply in his use of the word patria, and sets himself at odds with Cicero and others’ new-found conception of Rome as the communis patria of all Italy. The autonomy of the Italian cities, Vergil argues, is essential for the survival of poetic culture. Should Rome encroach upon Italy and the local patria be lost, poetic understanding and memory would likewise suffer. Historians have pointed out that the land confiscations mark a critical conflict in the triumviral period in which Rome emerges victorious over Italy. Vergil characterizes this struggle as a struggle for the preservation of the Italian poetic memory and culture, fundamentally bound to the survival of the local Italian patria.

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