Aeneas' encounter with Deiphobus forms a critical juncture in Vergil's "Aeneid". In the underworld Aeneas retraces his past to its beginning; so too Vergil's audience returns to its starting point: the fall of Troy. Deiphobus himself is a metonym of Troy, embodying her guilt and punishment. But Aeneas is frustrated in his attempt to reconcile himself to this past. Aeneas attempts the Homeric rites of remembrance-heroic tumulus and epic fama-but these prove to be empty gestures. The aition of Deiphobus' tomb is revealed to have miscarried. Rhoeteum was known as the tomb and shrine of Telamonian Ajax, not Deiphobus, and Octavian's recent restoration of the Rhoetean memorial would have strengthened the already close association between Rhoeteum and Ajax in the mind of Vergil's audience. Vergil exploits Rhoeteum's resonance with Telamonian Ajax and Odysseus, Antony and Octavian, to reflect on the process of constructing national memory, a process of which epic is an integral part. Vergil suggests that one hero's memorial frequently involves the appropriation and effacement of another. In a similar vein, the heroic fama of Deiphobus which Aeneas had heard in Troy is proven false. Deiphobus' narrative of his death is replete with Odyssean allusions which critique both Homeric heroism and Homeric kleos. Evocative allusions to Catullus' laments for his brother suggest eternal elegiac mourning as an alternate generic model for memorial and reconciliation with the past. But Aeneas is denied this option. At the center of the epic, at high noon, on a cosmic crossroads, Aeneas is poised between past and future, between mourning and hope, between Deiphobus and Deiphobe, between epic and elegiac. The Sibyl interrupts and moves Aeneas forward. Aeneas is not purged of his past, but rather denied the opportunity for true reconciliation, which is bestowed not by forgetting but by remembrance.
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