Stoic Pietas in the Aeneid: a study of the poem's ideological appeal and reception

Moore, Gardner Mary (2021) Stoic Pietas in the Aeneid: a study of the poem's ideological appeal and reception. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

Full text available as:
Download (1MB) | Preview


Employing a research method informed by Begriffsgeschichte, this thesis proposes a re-examining of pietas in Virgil’s Aeneid through a Stoic lens. It aims to show how Stoic philosophy underlines the Aeneid and Virgilian pietas. It illustrates how the Aeneid represents a unique intervention in the virtue’s history as a distinctly masculine quality characterised by Stoic submission to fate and suppression of emotion. In the character Aeneas, Virgil shows how philosophical ideas can be transmitted through individuals. Aeneas is characterised by a Stoic pietas that manifests in his willing service to fate and his subversion of personal feeling. The Aeneid unites social and political ideas of pietas with personal ones within a Stoic moral framework. We see the remarkable achievement in Virgil’s combination of public and private values in Aeneid VI, which serves a didactic function and unveils the benefit of pietas, a community-oriented virtue, for the individual. In Aeneid VI, the ideological coherence of the epic becomes clear, and we see pietas as a unifying behavioural trait for an ideal masculine Roman identity within an Augustan context. In the relationship between Aeneas and the fate of Rome, Virgil urges the reader to accept the overall merit in a Stoic worldview and disposition in relation to the city’s foundation narrative. The thesis examines the impact of this ideological coherence on subsequent literature. The reception of Virgilian pietas leads to Christian adaptations of the virtue related to religious faith and devotion to God, akin to what we might consider Christian piety. The shift from Virgilian pietas to Christian piety denotes a move from a politicised ideological virtue of civic service to a quality underlined by spiritual and religious devotion. This thesis determines that Virgil’s Stoic rendering of pietas is the ideological lynchpin of the epic, as well as the key to its ideological coherence. Virgil’s exceptional and powerful representation of pietas and a hero who embodies it completely has contributed to the lasting appeal of the Aeneid and its appropriation as a quasi-scriptural text by Christian authors, ensuring its continued preservation.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Stoicism, pietas, adaptation, identity, epic, ideology, reception.
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
D History General and Old World > DG Italy
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Humanities > Classics
Supervisor's Name: Fox, Professor Matthew and Jasper, Professor David
Date of Award: 2021
Depositing User: Gardner Moore
Unique ID: glathesis:2021-82148
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 29 Apr 2021 12:19
Last Modified: 29 Apr 2021 12:27
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.82148

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year