Core Curriculum : Literature Humanities

Virgil > Manuscripts

Plimpton 111-Virgil

Virgil. Aeniad

Italy, last quarter of the fifteenth century

Columbia RBML Plimpton MS 111

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This northern Italian late fifteenth-century manuscript of Virgil's Aeniad features a border medallion with a bust of Virgil on the first page and gold initials throughout. On f26v a later hand has added a passage long suppressed in the Aeniad's transmission, Book Two: 567-588. The supression dates back to Virgil's death. Virgil instructed the friends who served as his literary executors, Lucius Varius Rufus and Plotius Tucca, to destroy the poem because it was unfinished and uncorrected. Caesar Augustus countermanded them to publish and so they did, but not before cutting this episode that offended their expectations for heroic behavior.

In the suppressed passage Aeneas sees Helen of Troy hiding after the city has fallen and contemplates killing her. Aeneas recalls in time that the gods and not Helen are to blame for the Trojan War, but to Rufus and Tucca even the brief contemplation besmirched the character of "pious Aeneas." The passage survived in the so-called Servian commentary tradition.

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