Friday, February 16, 2024

Caeneus in the Underworld: Aeneid 6.440-449

nec procul hinc partem fusi monstrantur in omnem  

Lugentes campi; sic illos nomine dicunt.

hic quos durus amor crudeli tabe peredit

secreti celant calles et myrtea circum

silva tegit; curae non ipsa in morte relinquunt.

his Phaedram Procrinque locis maestamque Eriphylen  

crudelis nati monstrantem vulnera cernit,

Evadnenque et Pasiphaen; his Laodamia

it comes et iuvenis quondam, nunc femina, Caeneus

rursus et in veterem fato revoluta figuram.

--Vergil, Aeneid 6.440-449

Not far from here, spread out all around in every direction were the Mourning Fields; that’s what they’re called. This is where people affected by cursed love waste away. They hide in the narrow foot paths covered in a myrtle forest; even death itself cannot remove their pain. This is where he sees Phaedra, Procris, sad Eriphylis who bears the wounds of her cruel son, as well as Evandne and Pasiphae. Laodamia wanders here as companion to Caeneus—he had been a young man, but now returned by Fate to his previous shape as a woman.


·        Phaedra was cursed by Aphrodite to fall in love with her stepson Hippolytus

·        Procris, afraid her husband was unfaithful to her, followed him while he went out hunting and was accidentally killed by him.

·        Eriphylis betrayed her husband’s whereabouts while he was hiding during the Theban War and was swallowed by the earth

·        Evadne loved her husband so much that she threw herself on her husband’s funeral pyre

·        Pasiphae was cursed by Poseidon to fall in love with a bull after her husband Minos refused to offer him appropriate sacrifices

·        Laodamia loved her husband Protesilaus so much that she threw herself on his funeral pyre

·        What is Caeneus’ durus amor? Is it being the target of Poseidon’s attention and subsequent attack? Although Caeneus has a son (Coronus), there is no mention in extant myths about any love interest / marriage.




Name:  Publius Vergilius Maro

Date:  70 BCE – 21 BCE

Works:  Aeneid*





Region 1: Peninsular Italy; Region 2: Western Europe; Region 3: Western Coast of Africa; Region 4: Egypt and Eastern Mediterranean; Region 5: Greece and the Balkans



Vergil was born in Mantua (Cisalpine Gaul, located in northern Italy) and lived during the tumultuous transition of Roman government from republic to monarchy. His masterpiece, the Aeneid, tells the story of Aeneas’ migration from Troy to Italy; it was used for centuries as the pinnacle of Roman literature.


Early Roman Lit: through 2nd c BCE: Republican Rome: through 1st c. BCE; Golden Age: 70 BCE to 18 CE; Silver Age: 18 CE to 150 CE; Age of Conflict: 150 CE - 410 CE; Byzantine and Late Latin: after 410 CE



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