I just finished reading the Aeneid again. I do believe it’s an unwritten law that great Classical epics have to have abrupt endings… Virgil had the bad timing to die before he finished; I wonder what Homer’s excuse is for the Odyssey.
As with the Odyssey, I’m struck by the liveliness of the world that Aeneas and his buddies inhabit. Everywhere there are gods, sacred springs, nymphs, demi-gods, etc. It’s a fully populated world and a world in constant contact with the divine. Certainly the average Roman of the time didn’t necessarily think of their world that way–I’m thinking particularly of Seneca’s comment that nobody seriously believed that a man held the world on his
shoulders–but the worldview that Virgil paints is a very compelling one.
To a degree, I wonder how his conception of a world permeated with deity fed into the monastic worldview. Virgil was huge with the monks as Leclercq notes (Aside: if you have any interest in things monastic or contemplative
or historical you *must* read Leclercq’s _Love of Learning and Desire for God_ if you haven’t already…). There’s something of the medieval hagiographical material that feels much like how Virgil’s world feels. How dead our worldview feels in comparison…