UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The ancient system of rhetoric with a partial study of its influence on Virgil as seen in the similes in the Aeneid. Akpore, Demas Onoliobakpovba


The purpose of this thesis is to investigate the ancient system of rhetoric and its influence on Virgil as seen in his use of the simile in the Aeneid. The first two chapters deal with the rhetorical nature of Virgil's verse, the nature of rhetoric itself, the position of literature in the study of rhetoric, the influence which this study had on subsequent literature and the various types and definitions of figures and tropes of which the simile is a very important member. Among the great wealth of literature written on these topics, Quintilian's scholarly work the Institutio Oratoria is by far the most significant. It is exhaustive in scope and comprehensive in nature. The origin and purpose of the Virgilian simile are both seen in the examination of the simile in Homer and Lucretius. This examination is in the opening pages of the third chapter which constitutes the main part of the study of the simile In the Aeneid. Much discussion has been devoted to the nature, sources and the classification of the sources of the Virgilian simile. The study of the simile in Virgil has been confined to the study of the similes in the Aeneid, since it is the main work of our author that can be regarded as an epic without any qualifications and reservations. In considering the nature of the Virgilian simile special attention has been paid to the simple phrase simile and the extended simile whether it is static or dynamic. This examination shows how the amplification of detail or lack of it, and static and dynamic elements in the various similes are somehow or other connected with Virgil's personal life and philosophy of life, experience, and education. The manner and extent of Virgil's similes constitute the concluding chapter. The method adopted in their investigation has made it unnecessary to embark on a lengthy discussion. This chapter opens with two tables which speak clearly for themselves. It will be noticed that the latter of the two tables analyses the data of the former. It will be found that Virgil uses almost the same number of similes as Homer and Apollonius Rhodius, and less than Ovid whose writings are obsessed with an immoderate profusion of similes; it will also be observed that most of Virgil's similes are extended and dynamic rather than static and come from the animal world, and that the influence of his rhetorical training has not led him (as in the case of other epic writers in Roman literature) to deviate widely from the norm which Homer has set in the use of the simile. These are the conclusions to which this investigation leads.

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