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Graffiti and the Literary Landscape in Roman Pompeii$
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Kristina Milnor

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199684618

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199684618.001.0001

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A Culture of Quotation: Virgil, Education, and Literary Ownership

A Culture of Quotation: Virgil, Education, and Literary Ownership

Chapter:
(p.233) 5 A Culture of Quotation: Virgil, Education, and Literary Ownership
Source:
Graffiti and the Literary Landscape in Roman Pompeii
Author(s):

Kristina Milnor

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199684618.003.0006

The fragments of Virgil’s Aeneid found on Pompeian walls must be seen as part of a wider culture of literary consumption. The canonization of the first words of the Aeneid made them both deeply meaningful and completely meaningless, a shorthand way of gesturing to a wider Roman literary culture. At the same time, however, quotations from other parts of Virgil’s epic text, as well as from his other works, show a broader knowledge of Rome’s most canonized poet, but one which focuses on the use and meaning of individual lines and phrases rather than of the work as a whole. Ultimately, the culture of literary quotation in the streets of Pompeii turns out to be one which prioritizes the quoted fragment as a means of communication, so that the Aeneid speaks in this popular context not as a single, unified, and canonized poem, but as an atomized and utilitarian series of pieces of text.

Keywords:   Aeneid, quotation, canonization, popular culture, fragment, Roman culture

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