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Stop Me If You've Heard This One: Faux Alexandrian Footnotes in Vergil

James R. Townshend
Vergilius (1959-)
Vol. 61 (2015), pp. 77-96
Published by: The Vergilian Society
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/vergilius1959.61.77
Page Count: 20
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Stop Me If You've Heard This One: Faux Alexandrian Footnotes in Vergil
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Abstract

This paper reexamines Vergil's use of the Alexandrian Footnote on those occasions when the poet seems to refer to a nonexistent tradition. Two examples are discussed: Sinon's claims about Palamedes (Aen. 2.81–93) and the story of Scylla (Ecl. 6.74–77). In each case, the Alexandrian Footnote is used by a character internal to the poem. This internal character acts as a surrogate for and exercises the same fictive capacity as the poet: the footnote occurs in the context of story-telling. In such a context, when Vergil uses a “faux footnote” to invoke a tradition at precisely the moment he deviates from it by creating something new, he actively signals the lack of source material and highlights his own power as a creator of fiction.

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