The Macksey Journal


Vergil begins and ends his epic poem, The Aeneid, using the verb “condere,” meaning “to hide or bury.” In the proem, “condere” refers to the act of establishing the long-lasting foundations of the city of Rome. In the final lines of the poem, it describes Aeneas killing the Italian Turnus, and thus destroying the last obstacle to his destiny of establishing a great city.

My research examines the uses of “condere” throughout the poem, and explores the word’s journey from a positive, generative meaning to describing an act of violence. Tracking the evolution of “condere” confronts such issues as burial practices, conquest, Roman nationalism, and “pietas.” I look at how Aeneas is transformed throughout the poem, from victim to conqueror, from devoted to family and the gods to merciless in battle. The primary goal of my research is to examine how the meaning of “condere” corresponds to Aeneas’s character development, and to look at the ways in which Vergil comments on the personal and societal cost of war and imperialism.

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