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Screening the Golden Ages of the Classical Tradition$
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Meredith Safran

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781474440844

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474440844.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM EDINBURGH SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.edinburgh.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Edinburgh University Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ESO for personal use.date: 31 May 2020

“All That Glitters …”: Problematizing Golden-Age Narratives in Vergil’s Aeneid and the Western Film Genre

“All That Glitters …”: Problematizing Golden-Age Narratives in Vergil’s Aeneid and the Western Film Genre

Chapter:
(p.157) 8 “All That Glitters …”: Problematizing Golden-Age Narratives in Vergil’s Aeneid and the Western Film Genre
Source:
Screening the Golden Ages of the Classical Tradition
Author(s):

Kirsten Day

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9781474440844.003.0009

In the first of two chapters that treat promises of an imperial golden age in Aeneid Book 6 in relation to American expansionism as portrayed in the Western film genre, Kirsten Day compares the production contexts of Vergil’s epic, during the “golden age of Latin literature” in the wake of epochal civil wars, to the Westerns produced after World War II during the “golden age” of Hollywood. So too the dramatic settings of the Aeneid, after the Trojan War, and of Westerns, after the American Civil War, enshrine these trailblazing pioneers in the pantheon of founding heroes whose struggles (re)built the nation of the narrative’s audience. Through a wide-ranging survey of many of the genre’s most famous films, such as Red River and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, Day examines several key themes, including nation-building as divinely driven labor; the laconic characterization of the Western male hero and his troubling resemblance to the villain; and the sacrificial role assigned to female characters. Day concludes that these ancient and modern texts also share an undercurrent of anxiety about the moral ambiguities of these projects, which belies their superficial optimism.

Keywords:   American Western film genre, Aeneid, nation-building, pioneers, founding heroes, sacrificial women, laconic hero, moral ambiguity, civil war, golden age of Hollywood

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