Linguistic mediation develops technologies that are shaping the Umwelt, the surrounding environment. The digital connection is the point of arrival of this process of growing abstraction, and of increasing dissociation of understanding from empathy. The second step is the ability to respond accordingly. I call conjunction this form of empathic comprehension, while I call connection that kind of understanding that is not based on the empathic interpretation of meanings and intentions of the other, but is based on the compliance and adaptation to a syntactic structure.
The best explanation of the difference between conjunction and connection has been proposed by Tolstoj, when Prince Andrej Bolkonski compares, in the third book of War and Peace5 the chess game and the game of war. The opposition between conjunction and connection is not to be seen as a dialectical opposition. The body and the mind are not reducible in an oppositional way to conjunction or connection.
There is always some connective sensibility in a conjunctive body, and there is always some conjunctive sensibility in a human body formatted in connective conditions. Recomposition and a-signifying Recombination In the midst of infinite births and deaths, in the midst of rottenness, and leaves falling from a tree and sea waves—the infinite chaotic events randomly occurring in the universe, the only stunning and unexpected thing is the inexhaustible craving for sense, harmony and order.
Metaphysical and Dialectic philosophy focused on the idea of Totality, and the concept of Totality was based on the assumption of a pre-existing order, or on the assumption of some final order to restore and to bring into being. According to the principles of totalitarian philosophy each fragment finds its pre-established place and all the parts are arranged to compose an original or a final Totality, Code or Destiny. The phenomenological approach takes leave from the assumption that knowledge can lead to the perfect totality, and abandons the project of a totalitarian identification of thought and world.
The relative strength of bodies of troops can never be known to anyone. Success never depends, and never will depend on position or equipment, or even on numbers, and least of all on position. The rhizomatic methodology is just one of the possible phenomenological approaches. According to the rhizomatic methodology meaning emerges from a vibration, which is singular in its genealogy and can proliferate and be shared.
Meaning is therefore an event, not a necessity—and we can share it with other singularities which enter into vibrational syntony or sympathy with our intention of meaning. The rhizomatic methodology does not presuppose or imply any totality to establish or restore. It is based on the principle of non-necessary conjunction and continuous molecular recomposition of cells whose destination is not implied in their program or genetic code.
The recomposition is a process of uncertain and autonomous subjectivation: flows of enunciation interweave and create a common space of subjectivity. The collective subjectivity can be the result of an imagined form of belonging the tribe, the nation, the common faith. In this kind of collective existence, enunciation pretends to bring about truth, and divergence is betrayal. But collective subjectivity can be expression of an attraction: desire as singular creation of the other as singularity. In this case we can speak of a collective singularity, a singularity which is the living experience of a pathway from nowhere to nowhere.
Not the homeland, the family or the ideological dogma: the collective subjectivity that I am trying to trace out is based on nomadic desire, not on belonging or code. I speak of recomposition in order to describe the process of social conjunction, the opening and conjoining of individuals in a collective singularity, which is expressing affective and political solidarity without identification, without conventional codes or marks of belonging.
Recomposition is the meeting, converging and conjoining of singular bodies in a provisionally common pathway. The common pathway is not inscribed in the genetic code, or in the cultural belonging—it is the discovery of a common possibility which is the meeting point of singular drifts of desire. The community that results from the process of recomposition is.
In the process of recombination, on the other hand, a-signifying segments are connected in accordance with coded rules of generation. Connection, on the other hand, is a concatenation of bodies and machines that can generate meaning only following a human-made intrinsic design, only obeying precise rules of behaviour and functioning. Connection is not singular, not intentional, not vibrational. It is rather an operative concatenation between previously formatted agents of meaning bodies, or machines which have been codified, or formatted according to a code.
Connection generates messages whose meaning can be deciphered only by an agent body, machine which shares the syntactic code that has generated the message. In the sphere of conjunction the agent of meaning is a vibrating organism: I call vibration the uncertain and unresolved oscillation around an asyntotic point of isomorphism.
Conjunction is the provisional and precarious syntony of vibratory organisms which exchange meaning. The exchange of meaning is based on sympathy, the sharing of a pathos. Conjunction, therefore, can be viewed as a way of becoming other. Singularities change when they conjoin, they become something other than what they were before their conjunction.
Love changes the lover and the conjunctive composition of a-signifying signs gives rise to the emergence of a previously inexistent meaning. In contrast, in the connective mode of concatenation each element remains distinct and interacts only functionally. Rather than a fusion of segments, connection entails a simple effect of machine functionality. In order for the connection to be possible, segments must be linguistically compatible. Connection presupposes a process whereby the elements that need to connect are made compatible.
Indeed the digital web extends through the progressive reduction of an increasing number of elements to a format, a standard and a code that makes compatible different elements. The few considerations above are an introduction to the understanding of the anthropological mutation that is underway in our times, which in my view is essentially a transition from the predominance of the conjunctive mode to the predominance of the connective mode in the sphere of human communication.
From the anthropological point of view, techno-cultural change is centred on the shift from conjunction to connection as paradigm of exchange between conscious organisms. The leading factor of this change is the insertion of electronic segments in the organic continuum, the proliferation of digital devices in the organic universe of communication and in the body itself.
The effect of this change is a transformation of the relation between consciousness and sensibility, and the increasing desensitisation in the exchange of signs. Conjunction is the meeting and fusion of round and irregular bodies that are continuously weaselling their way about with no precision, repetition or perfection. Connection is the punctual and repeatable interaction of algorithmic functions, straight lines and points that overlap perfectly, and plug in or out according to discrete modes of interaction that render the different parts compatible to a pre-established standard.
The shift from conjunction to connection as the predominant mode of conscious interaction between organisms is a consequence of the digitalisation of signs and the increasing mediatisation of relations. The digitalisation of communicative processes induces a sort of desensitisation to the curve, the continuous process of slow becoming; and a sort of sensitisation to the code, to the sudden changes of state.
Conjunction entails a semantic criterion of interpretation: in order to enter into conjunction with another organism, the organism sends signs whose meaning can be interpreted only in the pragmatic context, by tracing the intention, the shade of the unsaid, the conscious and unconscious implications and so on. Connection instead requires a criterion of interpretation that is purely syntactic. The gradual translation of semantic interpretations into syntactic differences is the process that runs from the modern scientific rationalism to cybernetics and Artificial Intelligence programs.
Connective logic The debate on artificial intelligence began in the s. When we exchange messages in the conjunctive sphere we are trying to find out what is relevant for the participants in the communication. In the connective sphere, on the contrary, we start from a common ground of conventional knowledge, translated into technological standards and formats that make connection possible. The belief that such a total formalization of knowledge must be possible soon came to dominate Western thought… Hobbes was the first to make explicit the syntactic conception of thought as calculation.
Leibniz though he had found a universal and exact system of notation, an algebra, a symbolic language, a universal characteristic by means of which we can assign to every object its determined characteristic number. There are two fundamental types of computing machines: analogue and digital.
Analogue computers do not compute in the strict sense of the word. They operate by measuring the magnitude of physical quantities. Using physical quantities such as voltage duration, angle of rotation of a disk and so forth, proportional to the quantity to be manipulated, they combine these quantities in a physical way and measure the results.
A digital computer represents all quantities by discrete states, for example, relays which are open or closed, a dial which can assume any one of ten positions and so on, and them literally counts in order to get results… Since a digital computer operates with abstract symbols which can stand for anything, and logical operations which can relate anything to anything, any digital computer is a universal machine.
The universal digital machine is the logical and technological condition of the anthropological mutation that is underway in our times of transition. Conjunction is the opening of bodies to the understanding of signs and events, and their ability to form organic rhizomes: the concrete, carnal concatenation of each pulsating vibratory bodily fragment with each other pulsating vibratory bodily fragment. On the contrary, in a digital environment only what fulfils the standard of compatibility can connect: not every thing can connect with every other thing, and in order to enable the connection of distant communicative agents we must provide them with tools enabling them to access the flow of digital information.
When connection replaces conjunction in the process of communication between living and conscious organisms a mutation happens in the field of sensibility, emotion and affect. My research is about this mutation. This mutation—which happens in time, in the Diachronic dimension of the transition from the Modern mechanic environment of Indust-Reality to the post-Modern environment of Semio-economy—is not homogeneous as it depends on the particular features of the cultural context—geo-cultural, and synchronic—in which the mutation takes place. Therefore my research is dedicated to investigate the different forms of diachronic connective mutation inside certain selected cultural contexts, in the framework of the synchronic plurality of cultures with a special attention for the relation between aesthetic sensibility and forms of emotional life.
This capture is occurring at two different levels: at the epistemic level it implies the formatting of mental activity, at the biological level it implies the technical transformation of the processes of life generation. In the Modern age the modelling of the body—a subject that Michel Foucault has widely elaborated in his works about the genealogy of Modernity — was essentially macro-social and anatomical: the subjection of the social body to the industrial discipline was linked to the macro-social action of repressive machines acting on the individual body. Nowadays digital technology is based on the insertion of neuro-linguistic memes and automatic devices in the sphere of cognition, social psyche and life-forms.
Metaphorically, and not only metaphorically, we can say that the social brain is undergoing a process of wiring, mediated by immaterial linguistic protocols and also by electronic devices. As generative algorithms become crucial in the formation of the social body, the construction of social power shifts from the political level of consciousness and will, to the technical level of automatisms located in the process of generation of the linguistic exchange and in the process of formation of the psychic and organic body as well.
My attention here is focused on the processes of bio-social modelling of sensibility, on the embedding of cognitive automatisms at the deep level of perception, imagination and desire. This implies that social becoming is no more understandable in the framework of history, but only in the framework of evolution.
History is the conceptual sphere where conscious voluntary actors transform the surrounding conditions and social structures. In the sphere of evolution, on the other hand, human being cannot be considered an actor,. The concept of history and the concept of evolution can be distinguished and also opposed by the point of view of intentionality. The concept of History has been emphasized by the Romantic and particularly by the Hegelian Dialectical tradition, including Marx and the Marxist movement.
The concept of Evolution, on the contrary, has been elaborated in a cultural space more akin to the positivist school of thought. When political intentionality is effective in modelling the environment we speak of historical action. When the exchange between humans and nature, and the reciprocal transformation of these terms cannot be controlled by the intentional political action, we speak of evolution.
In the present conditions of hyper-complexity and acceleration of the technical environment, the social sphere can no more be properly understood in terms of political transformation, and is better explained in terms of evolution, particularly of neural evolution. The evolution of the brain resulting from the action of the environment on cognition and society, and the subjective adaptations of the human mind is the main factor of social transformation, and it is hardly subjectable to the political will.
Therefore the relevance and effectiveness of human action is no more placed at the level of rational knowledge, political decision and will, but at the level of intuition, imagination and sensibility. The conceptual and practical sphere of modern politics has lost its ground. In the age that began with Machiavelli and culminated with Lenin, human will the prince, the State, the Party was able to reign on the infinite chaotic variation of events and projects, and submit individual interests and passions to the common goal of social order, economic growth and civil progress.
The technical transformation of the last decades of the twentieth century, the infinite proliferation of information sources and flows, unleashed by the accelerating network technology, has made impossible the conscious elaboration of information by the individual mind, and the conscious coordination of individual agents of will.
The loss of effectiveness of political action is essentially an effect of change in temporality: because of the acceleration and complexification of the Infosphere, reason and will, the essential tools for political action, are unable to process in time and to decide in time. The technical transformation has changed the conditions of mental activity and the forms of interaction between the individual and the collective sphere. Now the distinction between individual and collective has been blurred.
Crowds and multitudes are involved in automatic chains of behaviour, and driven by techno-linguistic dispositives. The automation of the behaviour of many individuals traversed and concatenated by techno-linguistic interfaces results in the effect of Swarm. The sensible organism What do we mean by sensibility? As we know, the egg represents a stage of the body before organic representation—axes and vectors, gradients, zones, cinematic movements and dynamic tendencies—in relation to which forms are contingent and accessory.
Only intensities pass and circulate. Still, the Body without organs is not a scene, a place, or even a support upon which something comes to pass. It has nothing to do with phantasy, there is nothing to interpret. The BwO causes intensities to pass; it produces and distributes them in a spatium that is itself intensive, lacking extension. It is not space, nor is it in space; it is matter that occupies space to a given degree—to the degree corresponding to the intensities produced.
Matter equals energy. Production of the real as an intensive magnitude starting at zero. That is why we treat the BwO as the full egg before the extension of the organism and the organization of the organs, before the formation of the strata; as the intense egg defined by axes and vectors, gradients and thresholds, by dynamic tendencies involving energy transformation and kinematic movements involving group displacement, by migrations: all independent of accessory forms because the organs appear and function here. The organ changes when it crosses a threshold, when it changes gradient.
Tantric egg. The organism is the specific sedimentation of the vibrations through which the potentiality of the egg is actualized, and it naturally retains the ability to return to the state of a body without organs whenever it finds the potential to change again. When an organism stiffens its refrains, its obsessions and its codes of interpretation, it is doomed to lose sensibility and to lose its ability to vibrate.
Sensibility can be defined as the faculty which enables the organism to process signs and semiotic stimulations that cannot be verbalized or verbally coded. Someone who is unable to comprehend moods, emotions, allusions and the non-said—a large part of what constitutes communication and daily affective and social life—is commonly defined as insensitive.
Empathic relations enable the comprehension of signs that are irreducible to information and yet constitute the foundation of inter-human understanding. Sensibility is the faculty of decoding intensity, which is by definition escaping the extensive dimension of verbal language. Therefore sensibility is the ability of understanding the unspeakable. Beauty According to Paul Klee, the task of creative activity is not to reproduce the visible, but to make visible.
Sensibility is the faculty of making visible a configuration of the world. The function of creative activity such as poetry, music, painting, cinema, literature, is not to represent existing reality, but to make the world sensibly perceivable, to translate world into sensitive configurations.
Although art and sensibility are not limited to the realm of beauty, we name beauty the. Beauty can be found in symmetry or in a harmony intrinsic to an object, but a violation of the symmetric order can cause no less aesthetic pleasure. In beauty, we find a regression to a state of a body without organs, where it is possible to create new constellations of meaning and new functionalities for the objects we experience.
About Giacomo Leopardi
Victor Sklovski defines poetry as the restitution of pathos to words which have been overly used and consumed: he calls ostranenie, estrangement the procedure that gives back meaning and energy to this kind of signs. We do not need to look at symmetry and a-symmetry for an explanation of aesthetic emotion and the pleasure of forms, we should rather look at estrangement, an unpredicted deviation in the relationship between sign and meaning. This is the point: the derailing of the customary predictable relation between sign and meaning and the discovery of unforeseen and multiple perspectives is the condition of beauty.
Beauty has to do with surprise. Symmetry and dissymmetry are modalities of the configurations of signs and their aesthetic value is dependent on improbability, unpredictability and strangeness: a distance from the predictable order. And it may also be something entirely different, like the cruelty of the inexhaustible. Life continuously produces bodies that we cannot enjoy; they imperturbably pass us by, indifferently brushing against our gaze.
Beauty is the cruelty of this infinite excess of nature, the sudden awareness of the fragility of our conscious organism, the intuition of the impossible infinity of experience. Art, aesthetic creation and the gesture of suspension are playing with the tolerant irony of beauty.
But there is a beauty that the language of eroticism de-reasons about, that gushes out of the blind and merciless game of nature, the tenderness of sensual energy and decomposition. The Western philosophical tradition has conceived of aesthetics as a theory of beauty. But this conception has revealed rather inconclusive. Therefore I think that it should be better to conceive of aesthetics as the science of semiotic emanation in its interaction with sensibility. Aesthetics should return to its etymon and should refer to sensibility as experience of the object, rather than to beauty a quality of the object in itself.
Democritus conceived of sensation as the chemical integration of sensuous and environmental matter. Sensibility can be seen as a modulation of this syntonia tuning. Sensibility is the certainty of judgement, the singular certainty of good and evil. According to Gabrielle Dufour-Kowalska, Sensibility is not simply the faculty of the beautiful and artistic beauty does not constitute a separate realm. Dufour-Kowalska , What makes possible the harmonious or disharmonious vibration between singularity and cosmos? What is the similarity, what is the difference between aesthetic and erotic pleasure?
Should we think that in the human mind there is a neuro-physiological predisposition, an innate program of sensuous reception of the world, a bio-grammar of aesthesia and eroticism? Or should we think that the conditions of harmony are exclusively cultural? Harmony and disharmony are not intrinsic to the cosmos. They are modalities of a relationship between the singular receptive psyche and cosmic becoming: here lies the secret of pleasure and beauty. Genealogy of the skin Techno-semiotic emanation and sensibility are the two poles between which the scene is set: the cultural, historical and social becoming of the planet can be viewed in the perspective of the techno-semiotic and cultural modulation of human sensibility.
Accelerated by the power of technologies, the environment exceeds human measure. Human reason is exhausted. The observer is overwhelmed by the infinite complexity of phenomena. Thrust beyond the realm of the properly human, sensibility involves the inorganic. Sensibility can be regarded as a particular realm of what Foucault defines as episteme Foucault : the shaping of social perception that makes possible a common projection of the world, and therefore social discipline. It is now necessary to outline a phenomenology of the mutation of sensibility.
Semio-capitalism penetrates deeply into the neural circuits of social culture thanks to the permeation of sensibility. Let us distinguish the sensory from the sensuous level. Sensory is the perceiving faculty of the organism, while sensuous is the organism in so far as it selectively projects. Sensibility is the singular faculty that allows for a projection of the real. It is therefore morphogenetic and continuous in its creation of forms.
Sensibility is certainty of judgment in this respect, because aesthetic judgment does not apply to something separate from pleasure and pain, and thus entails the singular certainty of good and evil. Epidermis is the point of contact, the sensitive interface between the conscious self and the infinite emission of signs.
In the night sky, desire is the order of constellations. The epidermis is the stratum where order is opened and created on the coordinates of pleasure and pain. Among the infinite signs coming from the cosmos and from the artificial info-sphere, constellations emerge, ruled and designed by epidermal intuition and desire which create, compose, choose, hide and make world. But the epidermis is not a biological or natural stratum. The skin is shaped by touch, caresses, suffering and scars. The info-sphere shapes the sensors that create world constellations in the info-sphere.
The epidermis is a memory of caresses. It is the interface of the social, and its sensibility is the place of the utmost intensity of mutation. I view sensibility as an action on the environment and as emanation as well as reception and perception. Info-sphere and sensibility The info-sphere is the sphere of intentional signs that surround the sensible organism. Perception and the technological architecture surrounding the perceptive organism are intertwined. The theoretical innovation of Marshall McLuhan consists essentially of this breakthrough: the technical structure of semiosis the emission format of semiotic flows shapes perception and imagination.
Prior to modernity, a regime of slow transmission characterized the info-sphere and this slowness was shaping lived time and cultural expectations. Throughout the history of civilisation, perception has been moulded by artificial regimes of images and techniques of the circulation and production of representations of the world. The modern acceleration of the transmission of signs and the proliferation of sources of information has transformed the perception of time.
The info-sphere became more rapid and dense, and the proliferation of info-stimuli subjected sensibility to a mutagenous stress. Due to an intensification of electronic signals, the infosphere acceleration drags sensibility into a vertigo of simulated stimulation. The perception of the other and its body is reshaped too. Pressure, acceleration and automation are affecting gestuality, postural dispositions and the whole of social proxemics.
The images proliferate and our faculty of imagination undergoes a vertiginous acceleration. The image is not the brute perception of empirical data brought to our attention by matter, but the imaginational elaboration of visual matter by our mind, and the technical mode in which we receive and elaborate images acts upon the formation of our imagination.
Techno-media adjustments and psycho-cognitive mutations are as interdependent as the organism and its ecosystem. The conscious organism is a sensuous organism as well: it is a bundle of sensitive receptors. The connective techno-sphere we inhabit today resembles the outcome of a projective zapping where we combine sequences coming from different sources. The social unconscious is reacting to this continuous deterritorialisation in various ways: adaptation, disconnection, pathology.
Suddenly awoken by the eruption of semiotic proliferation and deprived of the filters inscribed in the critical and disciplinary mindset of modernity the nucleus of identity is fleeing and dissolving in all directions. The Universe of receivers, who are human beings made of flesh, frail and sensuous organs, is not formatted according to the standards of digital transmitters. But the format itself of the transmitter is not corresponding to the format of the receiver. So what happens? The interfacing of the electronic universe of transmission with the organic world of reception is producing pathological effects: panic, over-excitement, hyper-motility, attention deficit disorders, dyslexia, info-overload and saturation of the neural circuitry.
In the late modern times, during the transition from the alphabetical to the electronic regime of communication, the universe of transmission has been constantly accelerating, and the universe of receivers has desperately tried to follow the rhythm, accelerating and standardizing the cognitive response. The neuro-system is plastic, nevertheless human mind is evolving with a rhythm which is totally different from the rhythm of evolution of machines.
This is why the expansion of cyberspace implies an acceleration of cybertime that has pathological effects on the living terminal, the human mind which has physical, emotional and cultural limits. Multitasking implies the quick shift from an informational frame to another. Human mind seems to be perfectly suited to perform multitasking, but this kind of practices are triggering a psychological mutation, and this mutation is producing new forms of mental suffering like panic, attention deficit1 disorders, burnout, mental exhaustion, depression. We are taken in a frenzy of forced socialization: producing and working imply being connected—so connection means working.
The economic 1 Interesting by this point of view the Dave Eggers novel titled The Circle, published in According to Crary the expansion of the attention time leads to the permanent siege and relentless expansion of alert time. Attention has turned to be the scarcest of resources: we no more have time for conscious attention, so our dealing with information and taking decision needs to be more and more automated. We tend to be governed by decisions that are not responding to a long term rational strategy, but only to binary alternatives… The psychiatrist Eugene Minkowski, author of Lived Time: Phenomenological and Psychopathological Studies, published in , has stressed the link between mental suffering and the perception of time: the way we perceive our flowing through time, the lazy or frantic mood of experiencing life.
This disease is manifesting itself in form of hyper-motility, and consequential inability to focus attention on a subject for more than a few seconds. The daily exposure to electronic flows of psycho-stimulation since early age is provoking effects which imply affection, emotionality language, imagination, and the very perception of lived time. Eric Schmidt declared that the twentyfirst century would be synonymous with what he called the attention economy and that the dominant global corporations would be those that succeed in maximizing the number of eyeballs they could consistently engage and control.
In the work process humans are transformed into connected elaborators of information, and the increase of productivity is based on the acceleration of the info-flows. The contraction in time and the acceleration of the brain activation has an effect of fragilization of personal experience. While cyberspace can be infinitely expanded, as it is the virtual dimension of info-productive interaction between agents of communication, cybertime, the duration of perception cannot be expanded beyond certain imits, as it is limited by emotional and cultural temporality, and by organic restrictions.
Emotional and cultural elaboration of stimuli happens in time, and time for psychological and bodily elaboration cannot be shortened beyond a certain point. The more the amount of information demanding our attention expands, the less attention time for elaboration is available.
The technical composition of the world has changed, but the modalities of cognitive appropriation and elaboration cannot adapt in a linear way. Technical environment is changing much faster than culture, and especially cognitive behaviour. We can increase the time of exposure, we can increase our efficiency taking drugs, but experience cannot be intensified beyond a limit.
Therefore acceleration is provoking an impoverishment of the experience, as the intensive modalities of pleasure and knowledge are stressed up to the point of exhaustion. This conflict—or incompatibility—between cyberspace and cybertime is a marking paradox of our society, and because of capitalist exploitation it is producing pathological effects. This gap is the source of a sort of desensibilization.
Beyond a limit, the experience acceleration leads to a contraction of conscious elaboration time and to a loss of sensibility—which has also ethical consequences. Sensibility is in time, and cyber-space has grown so thick that the sensible organism— as conscious singularity—has no time for extracting meaning and pleasure from the experience. The drugs for erectile problems, like Viagra and similar products have more to do with attention time than with physical impotence. As time for caresses and words is no more available for precarious lovers, fast sex needs pharmaceutical support: sex without attention, as attention needs time.
Prozac-crash The universe of transmitters cyberspace can no more be translated by the universe of receivers cybertime. Here lies a pathogenic gap: the flourishing industry of psychopharmacology is selling more pills every year, because drugs are the only way to manage mental suffering, anxiety, sadness. Capitalism was entering in the age of neo-human acceleration, and cocaine, a substance which accelerates mental and bodily rhythm, became very fashionable.
In the same period, however, many people started injecting heroin, a substance that allows a deactivation of the link between individual perception and surrounding rhythm. Then the psychopharmacological products spread, and we entered the age of antidepressants and mood enhancers: Prozac, Xanax, Zoloft and so on. As semiocapitalism is based on the constant exploitation of mental energy, and competition is the general form of relation in the precarious labour market, mental suffering has become a social epidemic. The main source of pathology is competition in connective conditions: constant attention stress, reduction of time available for affection, loneliness, existential misery, then angst, panic, depression: the are the individual symptoms of this epidemic.
Psychopathology and economics become more and more interlinked. In the transition to Semiocapitalism mental suffering is no more the problem of a small minority of weird people, but tends to become the normalcy of a system which is based on the exploitation of precarious cognitive work. As long as capitalism was looking for physical energies to extract from the bodies of salaried people, psychopathology could be secluded in a marginal space of the city.
Who cares about your suffering, as long as you are just screwing, hammering, working on a lathe, and assembling pieces of a machine? You can feel alone as a fly in the bottle, but your productivity is not hindered by your loneliness and pain, as your muscles can work. Nowadays, on the contrary, semiocapitalism needs essentially neural energies for mental. Ups and downs, panic and depression are words that the economic parlance shares with psychopathology: these words have not metaphorical meaning, they are clues of the growing interdependence between economic behaviour and mental pathology.
Desensibilization After the end of the Avant-garde, after the infiltration of art in the territory of social communication, aesthetic stimulation invasively spread in every space of the mediascape: advertising, television, design, web design. The conscious and sensible organism is enveloped by a semiotic flux which is not only an information carrier, but a factor of perceptual stimulation and psychological excitement. Widespread aesthetization absorbs erotic energy, and diverts it from the body towards the signs. The classical aesthetic philosophy was based on the conceptual and sensible centrality of the catharsis.
In the Aristotelian vision art work was conceived as the trigger of a captivating wave, exciting and leading to a climax, a cathartic emotion. In the Classic, Romantic and also in the Modern conception, beauty was identified with the moment of culmination relaxing the tension implied in the relation between sensitive body and the world: catharsis, harmony, sublime detachment.
Reaching the cathartic climax of the aesthetic emotion is an event that can be assimilated to the orgasmic discharge that ensues from the exciting contact between sexual bodies, when muscular tension falls down in relaxation and pleasure. If we introduce an inorganic item in the circle of excitement-pleasure, if we introduce for instance electronic stimulation, if we accelerate the intensity and frequency of the stimuli, the result will be a contraction of the psychophysical time of reaction, and a spasm of unconcluded excitement will replace the orgasmic discharge.
In late-modern art, the idea that catharsis is the aim of art is fading, giving way to a more cold cerebral conception of the relation with art: beauty splits from pleasure, and tends to resemble a conceptual game, the space of unresolved tensions. Late modern art often looks like a frozen gesture of desensibilization. Rather than the cathartic excitement of the Modern tradition these artists prefer the conceptual recombinant montage. A sort of an-emotional trend marks the art-scape of the late modern age, anticipating the emergence of an-affective forms of life.
Also dyslexia can be read as a symptom of this acceleration. The emotional elaboration of meaning is deranged by intensified stimulation. Affection and sexuality are wavering between loneliness and wild predatory aggressiveness: rituals of emotional detachment, virtualization, pornography, sexual anorexia. Sensitivity enters into a process of re-formatting: in order to be compatible with the digital machine, language is to become smooth exchange of information.
Sexual imagination is invested in the hairless surfaces of the digital image. The first digital generation shows symptoms of emotional atrophy: impressive disconnection of language and sex. In the media, advertising, television, everywhere there is talk about sex. But sex is no more talking, as it is disconnected from language. Sex is babbling, stuttering, mumbling, or screaming in desultory way. Words are drying out. The country is undergoing major social transition after 20 years of economic stagnation.
There is no going back. Japanese men have become less career-driven, and less solvent, as lifetime job security has waned. Japanese women have become more independent and ambitious. Emotion: trace and body What is emotion? Corporeity and culture together contribute emotional value to objects, signs, acts. The modes of sensuous and sensitive reaction of a body are linked to a cultural context. The skin, which is covering our body and sheltering it from the external world, is also the most ancient and sensible of our sensory organs, our first tool for communication.
Although covering and closing, skin is also opening the body to the world, as it is bringing messages from the surrounding environment towards mind. Society is first of all the space where we encounter other bodies to touch, smell and see, however it is also the space where touching is submitted to rules. Culture implies a regulation of touching and of proxemics—the way bodies locate and position each in relation to the other. There are cultures in which touching—starting from the relation between mother and child—is considered part of daily life, and societies in which touching is strongly ritualized, and is considered as something embarrassing, something that we should deal with only secretly in a closed space of the house, something we should reduce to a minimum when in public spaces.
Monotheistic religions tend to identify. But in the hygienic modern times, medical more than religious dissuasion is detaining people from touching and seeking pleasure. Michel Foucault has described medicalization as a process which marks social spaces and functions, disciplining bodies and submitting them to the order of economic production.
As long as touching the body was a danger for the religious soul, human beings defied the sense of guilt, but when the body of the other is felt as the carrier of epidemic disease, then desire itself is repressed and reshaped, not only its expression. When desire becomes a danger for the body, then fear threatens desire from inside, and desire is assimilated with disease.
Eroticism takes then a morbid turn, and starts being aestheticized and transferred in the realm of social taboos and individual transgressions. On the threshold of post-modernity epidemics have been amplified by the mediascape, and have gone psycho-viral, transferring their dangers in the semiotic space, then shifting from the semio-sphere to the space of emotions, then back to the Mediascape, in a sort of Larsen effect of the psycho-sphere. AIDS, the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome is the perfect metaphor of this anthropological shift: more than ever this disease has produced its effects on the sphere of communication.
In the last decades of the past century AIDS has acted as a media epidemics and simultaneously it has frozen and sanitized the act of touching, transferring erotic energy in the media space of pornography and in the always postponed excitement of the social network rituals of courting. The cultural virus has so deeply permeated the collective psyche that we are unable to ponder the effects it has produced in the quality of experience and in daily life.
Even if the actual fear of the acquired syndrome is mitigated by the medical science, its cultural and psychological effect is here to stay, transformed into ritual, fashion, life-style. Frail Psychosphere The arts of the s favoured the register of utopia in two forms: the radical utopia of Futurism and Surrealism, and the functional utopia of Bauhaus. In the second half of the nineteenth century the literary dystopia of Orwell, Burroughs and De Lillo flourished. In the years of transition from the twentieth century to the twenty-first century dystopia takes centre stage and conquers the whole field of the artistic imagination.
In the expressions of poetry, cinema, visual art and novel, the marks of an epidemic of mental suffering proliferate. All along the late modern age artists have been the harbingers of precariousness, internalized in an aesthetic of uncertainty, randomness, and excess. But in the first decade of the new century precariousness has turned into a social condition, pervading the labour market and the very self-perception of the workers.
Precarious art is an attempt to mitigate social pain and political impotence with a sort of dystopian irony. In order to realize the project, the artist has been working for a month as a trainee in the marketing department of Deloitte where only few people knew the true nature of the project. She is initially a normal-seeming marketing trainee, then she starts to apply peculiar working methods.
One of the videos shows her spending an entire day in an elevator. These acts or rather the absence of visible action slowly make the atmosphere around the trainee unbearable and force the colleagues to search for solutions and come up with explanations for the situation. Gradually she becomes an object of avoidance and speculation. Her colleagues start asking her embarrassing questions, between sincere interest and bewildered amusement. Demands are directed at the superior regarding the strangely behaving worker. Masking laziness in.
It is non-doing that lacks a place in the general order of things, and thus it is a threat to order. The degrading religion of labour is exposed here together with uselessness of contemporary work. In her videos, Eija-Liisa Ahtila Wind, If 6 was 9, Anne Aki and God narrates the psychopathology of relations, the inability to touch and to be touched. In the film Me and you and everyone we know, Miranda July tells the story of a video-artist who falls in love with a young man and the difficulty of translating emotion into words, and words into touch.
Language is severed from affectivity. Language and sex diverge in everyday life. Sex is talked about everywhere, but sex never speaks. A film by Jia Zhangke, entitled Still life Sanxia haoren and produced in Hong Kong in , shows an unfolding devastation of contemporary China. The predominant colour is a rotten, greyish, violet green. The story is simple, but cruel: Huo Sanming returns to his place of birth in the hope of finding his wife and daughter, whom he had left years earlier to go and find work in a distant northern mine.
His village, along the riverbank of the Yangtze no longer exists. The construction of the Three Gorges Dam had erased many villages. Houses, people and streets have been covered by water. The building of the dam proceeds, the destruction of villages continues and the water keeps rising. Huo Sanming arrives in this scenario of devastation and rising water and he does not find his wife and daughter; so his search begins.
He looks for them while groups of workers armed with their picks take walls down, explosives demolish buildings and landscape is transformed into a huge sprawl of garbage. After long searches he finally finds his wife; she has aged and been sold by her brother to another man. They meet in the rooms of a building as it is being demolished and, in whispers, they talk about their daughter, their heads down. A dark green spaceship is flying in the background of bricks and iron spattering onto a shit-coloured sky. Still life is a lyrical account of Chinese capitalism acted inside out, from the standpoint of submerged life.
The Corrections, a novel by Jonathan Franzen, speaks of the psychopathological micro-shifts and of the psychopharmacological micro-adaptations of the humanity increasingly devastated by depression and anxiety: the attempts to adjust to an existence that must be normal and pretends to be normal while the brain is unable to deal with the surrounding chaos and the intimate chaos as well.
Corrections are the adjustments needed in a volatile stock market in order to avoid losing the money invested in private pension funds that might suddenly disappear. Franzen recounts a couple of aging person in the Midwest: thy have gone nuts as a result of decades of hyper-labour and conformism. Corrections are the small and unstoppable slides towards the point of turn-off, the horror of old age in the civilization of competition, the horror of sexuality in the world of puritan efficiency. In the novel, published in , Franzen digs deep into the folds of the American psyche and describes in minute details the pulpifaction of the American brain, the depression and dementia resulting from a prolonged exposure to the psychic bombardment of stress from work, apathy, paranoia, puritan hypocrisy and the pharmaceutical industry around them, the psychic unmaking of men who are encapsulated in the claustrophobic and illusory shell of economic hyper-protection, the infantilism of people who pretend to believe, or perhaps really believe in the fulsome Christmas fairy tale of compassionately liberalist cruelty.
By the end of the long awaited Christmas dinner, as the psychopathic family happily gathers together, the father tries to commit suicide by shooting himself in the mouth. He does not succeed. Yakizakana no Uta starts with a fish in cellophane wrapping on a supermarket shelf. A boy grabs it and takes it to the till; he pays, leaves, puts it in the bicycle basket and cycles home.
You are extraordinary beings; you are almost the masters of the universe. Unfortunately you are not always peaceful, I would like to live in a peaceful world where everyone loves one another and even fish and humans shake hands. I can hear the sound of a stream… I love the sound of streams, it reminds me something from my childhood. It starts singing a song, more and more feebly and unconnectedly, like the Hal in A Space Odyssey as his wires are unplugged.
Yakizakana no Uta, by Yusuke Sakamoto, is perhaps the most harrowing animation film I saw in June at the Caixa Forum of Barcelona, during the Historias animadas festival. Yet I perceived a common tone running through all of the works presented at the festival, one of ironic cynicism, of ironic despair.
This art is no denunciation. Artists of the twenty-first century no longer show that kind of energy, even though they keep using expressions taken from the lexicon of the past century, perhaps because they are scared by their own truth. Artists no longer search the way to a rupture? They seek a path that may lead to a state of equilibrium between irony and cynicism, they seek a way to suspend the execution, at least for a moment.
Contrary to the presupposition of the clash of civilization theory, I think that identities do not exist as such: they are fragile and changing constructions, based on the social history of human groups, and on the changing effects of flows of techno-psycho stimulation. Civilizations are not homogeneous blocks of consistent identity, rather the space of continuous negotiation between differences. If we look at the geopolitical and geocultural map of the world, we see that most of the current conflicts nowadays are happening inside the space of a so called civilization.
In his book Clash of civilizations Huntington writes that the Christian West is destined to clash with Islam—but the experience of the last ten years has shown that the main source of war is the opposition of Sunni and Shia Islam.
Far from being the natural evolution of a long dated legacy, identities are shifting, fragmented, continuously reshaped by the media flows that cross them. Strictly speaking civilizations do not exist, and the transversal factors of mutation technology, the Net, financial collapse are permeating the different cultural landscapes with similar colours. My research is intended to retrace the molecular evolution of geo-cultures, focusing on identities only as temporary constructions.
Sensibility and social imagination in the Modern age will be subjects of the next chapters of this text. The lower, thick spongy dermis, one to two millimetres thick, is primarily connective tissue, rich in the protein collagen, it protects and cushions the body and houses hair follicles, nerve endings and sweat glands, blood and lymph vessels.
The upper layer, the epidermis, is 0. It is primarily composed of squamous epithelial cells, which begin their lives round and plump at the boundary of the dermis and over a to day period are pusher upward, toward the surface, by new cells produced below. As they rise, they become flattened, plate like, lifeless ghosts, full of protein called keratin, and finally they reach the surface, where they are ingloriously sloughed off into oblivion.
Skin stays between us and the world and acts as sensitive processor of the worldly experience. Voltis et his mecum pariter considere regnis; urbem quam statuo uestra est, subducite nauis; Tros Tyriusque mihi nullo discrimine agetur. Atque utinam rex ipse Noto compulsus eodem adforet Aeneas! Equidem per litora certos dimittam et Libyae lustrare extrema iubebo, si quibus eiectus siluis aut urbibus errat. Prior Aenean compellat Achates: 'Nate dea, quae nunc animo sententia surgit? Unus abest, medio in fluctu quem uidimus ipsi submersum; dictis respondent cetera matris.
Dido Welcomes the Trojans Then, Dido, spoke briefly, with lowered eyes: 'Trojans, free your hearts of fear: dispel your cares. Harsh events and the newness of the kingdom force me to effect such things, and protect my borders with guards on all sides. Who doesn't know of Aeneas's race, and the city of Troy, the bravery, the men, or so great a blaze of warfare, indeed, we Phoenicians don't possess unfeeling hearts, the sun doesn't harness his horses that far from this Tyrian city.
Whether you opt for mighty Hesperia, and Saturn's fields, or the summit of Eryx, and Acestes for king, I'll see you safely escorted, and help you with my wealth. Or do you wish to settle here with me, as equals in my kingdom? The city I build is yours: beach your ships: Trojans and Tyrians will be treated by me without distinction.
I wish your king Aeneas himself were here, driven by that same storm! Indeed, I'll send reliable men along the coast, and order them to travel the length of Libya, in case he's driven aground, and wandering the woods and towns. Achates was first to speak, saying to Aeneas: 'Son of the goddess, what intention springs to your mind?
You see all's safe, the fleet and our friends have been restored to us. Only one is missing, whom we saw plunged in the waves: all else is in accord with your mother's words. Lines Uix ea fatus erat, cum circumfusa repente scindit se nubes et in aethera purgat apertum. Restitit Aeneas claraque in luce refulsit, os umerosque deo similis; namque ipsa decoram caesariem nato genetrix lumenque iuuentae purpureum et laetos oculis adflarat honores: quale manus addunt ebori decus, aut ubi flauo argentum Pariusue lapis circumdatur auro.
Tum sic reginam adloquitur, cunctisque repente improuisus ait: 'Coram, quem quaeritis, adsum, Troius Aeneas, Libycis ereptus ab undis. O sola infandos Troiae miserata labores, quae nos, reliquias Danaum, terraeque marisque omnibus exhaustos iam casibus, omnium egenos, urbe, domo, socias, grates persoluere dignas non opis est nostrae, Dido, nec quicquid ubique est gentis Dardaniae, magnum quae sparsa per orbem.
Di tibi, si qua pios respectant numina, si quid usquam iustitia est et mens sibi conscia recti, praemia digna ferant. Quae te tam laeta tulerunt saecula? Qui tanti talem genuere parentes? In freta dum fluuii current, dum montibus umbrae lustrabunt conuexa, polus dum sidera pascet, semper honos nomenque tuum laudesque manebunt, quae me cumque uocant terrae. Aeneas Makes Himself Known He'd scarcely spoken when the mist surrounding them suddenly parted, and vanished in the clear air. Aeneas stood there, shining in the bright daylight, like a god in shoulders and face: since his mother had herself imparted to her son beauty to his hair, a glow of youth, and a joyful charm to his eyes: like the glory art can give to ivory, or as when silver, or Parian marble, is surrounded by gold.
Then he addressed the queen, suddenly, surprising them all, saying: 'I am here in person, Aeneas the Trojan, him whom you seek, saved from the Libyan waves. O Dido, it is not in our power, nor those of our Trojan race, wherever they may be, scattered through the wide world, to pay you sufficient thanks, you who alone have pitied Troy's unspeakable miseries, and share your city and home with us, the remnant left by the Greeks, wearied by every mischance, on land and sea, and lacking everything. May the gods, and the mind itself conscious of right, bring you a just reward, if the gods respect the virtuous, if there is justice anywhere.
What happy age gave birth to you? What parents produced such a child? Your honour, name and praise will endure forever, whatever lands may summon me, while rivers run to the sea, while shadows cross mountain slopes, while the sky nourishes the stars. Lines Obstipuit primo aspectu Sidonia Dido, casu deinde uiri tanto, et sic ore locuta est: 'Quis te, nate dea, per tanta pericula casus insequitur? Quae uis immanibus applicat oris? Atque equidem Teucrum memini Sidona uenire finibus expulsum patriis, noua regna petentem auxilio Beli; genitor tum Belus opimam uastabat Cyprum, et uictor dicione tenebat.
Tempore iam ex illo casus mihi cognitus urbis Troianae nomenque tuum regesque Pelasgi. Ipse hostis Teucros insigni laude ferebat, seque ortum antiqua Teucrorum ab stirpe uolebat. Quare agite, O tectis, iuuenes, succedite nostris. Me quoque per multos similis fortuna labores iactatam hac demum uoluit consistere terra. Non ignara mali, miseris succurrere disco. Nec minus interea sociis ad litora mittit uiginti tauros, magnorum horrentia centum terga suum, pinguis centum cum matribus agnos, munera laetitiamque dii. At domus interior regali splendida luxu instruitur, mediisque parant conuiuia tectis: arte laboratae uestes ostroque superbo, ingens argentum mensis, caelataque in auro fortia facta patrum, series longissima rerum per tot ducta uiros antiqua ab origine gentis.
Aeneas neque enim patrius consistere mentem passus amor rapidum ad nauis praemittit Achaten, Ascanio ferat haec, ipsumque ad moenia ducat; omnis in Ascanio cari stat cura parentis. Munera praeterea, Iliacis erepta ruinis, ferre iubet, pallam signis auroque rigentem, et circumtextum croceo uelamen acantho, ornatus Argiuae Helenae, quos illa Mycenis, Pergama cum peteret inconcessosque hymenaeos, extulerat, matris Ledae mirabile donum: praeterea sceptrum, Ilione quod gesserat olim, maxima natarum Priami, colloque monile bacatum, et duplicem gemmis auroque coronam.
Dido Receives Aeneas Sidonian Dido was first amazed at the hero's looks then at his great misfortunes, and she spoke, saying: 'Son of a goddess, what fate pursues you through all these dangers? What force drives you to these barbarous shores? Indeed, I myself remember Teucer coming to Sidon, exiled from his country's borders, seeking a new kingdom with Belus's help: Belus, my father, was laying waste rich Cyprus, and, as victor, held it by his authority.
Since then the fall of the Trojan city is known to me, and your name, and those of the Greek kings. Even their enemy granted the Teucrians high praise, maintaining they were born of the ancient Teucrian stock. So come, young lords, and enter our palace. Fortune, pursuing me too, through many similar troubles, willed that I would find peace at last in this land. Not being unknown to evil, I've learned to aid the unhappy. She sends no less than twenty bulls to his friends on the shore, and a hundred of her largest pigs with bristling backs, a hundred fat lambs with the ewes, and joyful gifts of wine, but the interior of the palace is laid out with royal luxury, and they prepare a feast in the centre of the palace: covers worked skilfully in princely purple, massive silverware on the tables, and her forefathers' heroic deeds engraved in gold, a long series of exploits traced through many heroes, since the ancient origins of her people.
Aeneas quickly sends Achates to the ships to carry the news to Ascanius since a father's love won't let his mind rest and bring him to the city: on Ascanius all the care of a fond parent is fixed. He commands him to bring gifts too, snatched from the ruins of Troy, a figured robe stiff with gold, and a cloak fringed with yellow acanthus, worn by Helen of Argos, brought from Mycenae when she sailed to Troy and her unlawful marriage, a wonderful gift from her mother Leda: and the sceptre that Ilione, Priam's eldest daughter, once carried, and a necklace of pearls, and a double-coronet of jewels and gold.
Achates, hastening to fulfil these commands, took his way towards the ships. Lines At Cytherea nouas artes, noua pectore uersat Consilia, ut faciem mutatus et ora Cupido pro dulci Ascanio ueniat, donisque furentem incendat reginam, atque ossibus implicet ignem; quippe domum timet ambiguam Tyriosque bilinguis; urit atrox Iuno, et sub noctem cura recursat. Ergo his aligerum dictis adfatur Amorem: 'Nate, meae uires, mea magna potentia solus, nate, patris summi qui tela Typhoia temnis, ad te confugio et supplex tua numina posco.
Frater ut Aeneas pelago tuus omnia circum litora iactetur odiis Iunonis iniquae, nota tibi, et nostro doluisti saepe dolore. Hunc Phoenissa tenet Dido blandisque moratur uocibus; et uereor, quo se Iunonia uertant hospitia; haud tanto cessabit cardine rerum. Quocirca capere ante dolis et cingere flamma reginam meditor, ne quo se numine mutet, sed magno Aeneae mecum teneatur amore. Regius accitu cari genitoris ad urbem Sidoniam puer ire parat, mea maxima cura, dona ferens, pelago et flammis restantia Troiae: hunc ego sopitum somno super alta Cythera aut super Idalium sacrata sede recondam, ne qua scire dolos mediusue occurrere possit.
Tu faciem illius noctem non amplius unam falle dolo, et notos pueri puer indue uoltus, ut, cum te gremio accipiet laetissima Dido regalis inter mensas laticemque Lyaeum, cum dabit amplexus atque oscula dulcia figet, occultum inspires ignem fallasque ueneno. Cupid Impersonates Ascanius But Venus was planning new wiles and stratagems in her heart: how Cupid, altered in looks, might arrive in place of sweet Ascanius, and arouse the passionate queen by his gifts, and entwine the fire in her bones: truly she fears the unreliability of this house, and the duplicitous Tyrians: unyielding Juno angers her, and her worries increase with nightfall.
So she speaks these words to winged Cupid: 'My son, you who alone are my great strength, my power, a son who scorns mighty Jupiter's Typhoean thunderbolts, I ask your help, and humbly call on your divine will. It's known to you how Aeneas, your brother, is driven over the sea, round all the shores, by bitter Juno's hatred, and you have often grieved with my grief. Phoenician Dido holds him there, delaying him with flattery, and I fear what may come of Juno's hospitality: at such a critical turn of events she'll not be idle.
So I intend to deceive the queen with guile, and encircle her with passion, so that no divine will can rescue her, but she'll be seized, with me, by deep love for Aeneas. Now listen to my thoughts on how you can achieve this. Summoned by his dear father, the royal child, my greatest concern, prepares to go to the Sidonian city, carrying gifts that survived the sea, and the flames of Troy. I'll lull him to sleep and hide him in my sacred shrine on the heights of Cythera or Idalium, so he can know nothing of my deceptions, or interrupt them mid-way.
For no more than a single night imitate his looks by art, and, a boy yourself, take on the known face of a boy, so that when Dido takes you to her breast, joyfully, amongst the royal feast, and the flowing wine, when she embraces you, and plants sweet kisses on you, you'll breathe hidden fire into her, deceive her with your poison.
But Venus pours gentle sleep over Ascanius's limbs, and warming him in her breast, carries him, with divine power, to Idalia's high groves, where soft marjoram smothers him in flowers, and the breath of its sweet shade. Lines Iamque ibat dicto parens et dona Cupido regia portabat Tyriis, duce laetus Achate. Cum uenit, aulaeis iam se regina superbis aurea composuit sponda mediamque locauit. Iam pater Aeneas et iam Troiana iuuentus conueniunt, stratoque super discumbitur ostro. Quinquaginta intus famulae, quibus ordine longam cura penum struere, et flammis adolere Penatis; centum aliae totidemque pares aetate ministri, qui dapibus mensas onerent et pocula ponant.
Nec non et Tyrii per limina laeta frequentes conuenere, toris iussi discumbere pictis. Mirantur dona Aeneae, mirantur Iulum flagrantisque dei uoltus simulataque uerba, [pallamque et pictum croceo uelamen acantho. Ille ubi complexu Aeneae colloque pependit et magnum falsi impleuit genitoris amorem, reginam petit haec oculis, haec pectore toto haeret et interdum gremio fouet, inscia Dido, insidat quantus miserae deus; at memor ille matris Acidaliae paulatim abolere Sychaeum incipit, et uiuo temptat praeuertere amore iam pridem resides animos desuetaque corda.
Cupid Deceives Dido Now, obedient to her orders, delighting in Achetes as guide, Cupid goes off carrying royal gifts for the Tyrians. When he arrives the queen has already settled herself in the centre, on her golden couch under royal canopies. Now our forefather Aeneas and the youth of Troy gather there, and recline on cloths of purple. Servants pour water over their hands: serve bread from baskets: and bring napkins of smooth cloth.
Inside there are fifty female servants, in a long line, whose task it is to prepare the meal, and tend the hearth fires: a hundred more, and as many pages of like age, to load the tables with food, and fill the cups. And the Tyrians too are gathered in crowds through the festive halls, summoned to recline on the embroidered couches. They marvel at Aeneas's gifts, marvel at Iulus, the god's brilliant appearance, and deceptive words, at the robe, and the cloak embroidered with yellow acanthus.
The unfortunate Phoenician above all, doomed to future ruin, cannot pacify her feelings, and catches fire with gazing, stirred equally by the child and by the gifts. He, having hung in an embrace round Aeneas's neck, and sated the deceived father's great love, seeks out the queen. Dido, clings to him with her eyes and with her heart, taking him now and then on her lap, unaware how great a god is entering her, to her sorrow. But he, remembering his Cyprian mother's wishes, begins gradually to erase all thought of Sychaeus, and works at seducing her mind, so long unstirred, and her heart unused to love, with living passion.
Lines Postquam prima quies epulis, mensaeque remotae, crateras magnos statuunt et uina coronant. Fit strepitus tectis, uocemque per ampla uolutant atria; dependent lychni laquearibus aureis incensi, et noctem flammis funalia uincunt. Hic regina grauem gemmis auroque poposcit impleuitque mero pateram, quam Belus et omnes a Belo soliti; tum facta silentia tectis: 'Iuppiter, hospitibus nam te dare iura loquuntur, hunc laetum Tyriisque diem Troiaque profectis esse uelis, nostrosque huius meminisse minores.
Adsit laetitiae Bacchus dator, et bona Iuno; et uos, O, coetum, Tyrii, celebrate fauentes. Cithara crinitus Iopas personat aurata, docuit quem maximus Atlas. Hic canit errantem lunam solisque labores; unde hominum genus et pecudes; unde imber et ignes; Arcturum pluuiasque Hyadas geminosque Triones; quid tantum Oceano properent se tinguere soles hiberni, uel quae tardis mora noctibus obstet. Ingeminant plausu Tyrii, Troesque sequuntur. Nec non et uario noctem sermone trahebat infelix Dido, longumque bibebat amorem, multa super Priamo rogitans, super Hectore multa; nunc quibus Aurorae uenisset filius armis, nunc quales Diomedis equi, nunc quantus Achilles.
Dido Asks for Aeneas's Story At the first lull in the feasting, the tables were cleared, and they set out vast bowls, and wreathed the wine with garlands. Noise filled the palace, and voices rolled out across the wide halls: bright lamps hung from the golden ceilings, and blazing candles dispelled the night. Then the queen asked for a drinking-cup, heavy with gold and jewels, that Belus and all Belus's line were accustomed to use, and filled it with wine. Then the halls were silent. She spoke: 'Jupiter, since they say you're the one who creates the laws of hospitality, let this be a happy day for the Tyrians and those from Troy, and let it be remembered by our children.
Let Bacchus, the joy-bringer, and kind Juno be present, and you, O Phoenicians, make this gathering festive. Iolas, the long-haired, made his golden lyre resound, he whom great Atlas taught. He sang of the wandering moon and the sun's labours, where men and beasts came from, and rain and fire, of Arcturus, the rainy Hyades, the two Bears: why the winter suns rush to dip themselves in the sea, and what delay makes the slow nights linger. The Tyrians redoubled their applause, the Trojans too. And unfortunate Dido, she too spent the night in conversation, and drank deep of her passion, asking endlessly about Priam and Hector: now about the armour that Memnon, son of the Dawn, came with to Troy, what kind were Diomed's horses, how great was Achilles.
Lines Conticuere omnes intentique ora tenebant inde toro pater Aeneas sic orsus ab alto: Infandum, regina, iubes renouare dolorem, Troianas ut opes et lamentabile regnum eruerint Danai, quaeque ipse miserrima uidi 5 et quorum pars magna fui. Primus ibi ante omnis magna comitante caterua 40 Laocoon ardens summa decurrit ab arce, et procul 'o miseri, quae tanta insania, ciues? Then from his high couch our forefather Aeneas began: 'O queen, you command me to renew unspeakable grief, how the Greeks destroyed the riches of Troy, and the sorrowful kingdom, miseries I saw myself, and in which I played a great part.
See a Problem?
What Myrmidon, or Dolopian, or warrior of fierce Ulysses, could keep from tears in telling such a story? Now the dew-filled night is dropping from the sky, and the setting stars urge sleep. But if you have such desire to learn of our misfortunes, and briefly hear of Troy's last agonies, though my mind shudders at the memory, and recoils in sorrow, I'll begin.
They secretly hide a picked body of men, chosen by lot, there, in the dark body, filling the belly and the huge cavernous insides with armed warriors. Tenedos is within sight, an island known to fame, rich in wealth when Priam's kingdom remained, now just a bay and an unsafe anchorage for boats: they sail there, and hide themselves, on the lonely shore.
We thought they had gone, and were seeking Mycenae with the wind. So all the Trojan land was free of its long sorrow. The gates were opened: it was a joy to go and see the Greek camp, the deserted site and the abandoned shore. Here the Dolopians stayed, here cruel Achilles, here lay the fleet, here they used to meet us in battle.
Some were amazed at virgin Minerva's fatal gift, and marvel at the horse's size: and at first Thymoetes, whether through treachery, or because Troy's fate was certain, urged that it be dragged inside the walls and placed on the citadel. But Capys, and those of wiser judgement, commanded us to either hurl this deceit of the Greeks, this suspect gift, into the sea, or set fire to it from beneath, or pierce its hollow belly, and probe for hiding places. The crowd, uncertain, was split by opposing opinions.
Do you think the enemy's sailed away? Or do you think any Greek gift's free of treachery? Is that Ulysses's reputation? Either there are Greeks in hiding, concealed by the wood, or it's been built as a machine to use against our walls, or spy on our homes, or fall on the city from above, or it hides some other trick: Trojans, don't trust this horse.
Whatever it is, I'm afraid of Greeks even those bearing gifts. The spear stuck quivering, and at the womb's reverberation the cavity rang hollow and gave out a groan. And if the gods' fate, if our minds, had not been ill-omened, he'd have incited us to mar the Greeks hiding-place with steel: Troy would still stand: and you, high tower of Priam would remain. Lines Ecce, manus iuuenem interea post terga reuinctum pastores magno ad regem clamore trahebant Dardanidae, qui se ignotum uenientibus ultro, hoc ipsum ut strueret Troiamque aperiret Achiuis, 60 obtulerat, fidens animi atque in utrumque paratus, seu uersare dolos seu certae occumbere morti.
Sinon's Tale See, meanwhile, some Trojan shepherds, shouting loudly, dragging a youth, his hands tied behind his back, to the king. In order to contrive this, and lay Troy open to the Greeks, he had placed himself in their path, calm in mind, and ready for either course: to engage in deception, or find certain death. The Trojan youth run, crowding round, from all sides, to see him, and compete in mocking the captive. Listen now to Greek treachery, and learn of all their crimes from just this one. Since, as he stood, looking troubled, unarmed, amongst the gazing crowd, and cast his eyes around the Phrygian ranks, he said: 'Ah!
What land, what seas would accept me now? What's left for me at the last in my misery, I who have no place among the Greeks, when the hostile Trojans, themselves, demand my punishment and my blood? At this the mood changed and all violence was checked. We urged him to say what blood he was sprung from, and why he suffered: and tell us what trust could be placed in him as a captive. Setting fear aside at last he speaks: "O king, I'll tell you the whole truth, whatever happens, and indeed I'll not deny that I'm of Argive birth: this first of all: if Fortune has made me wretched, she'll not also wrongly make me false and a liar.
If by any chance some mention of Palamedes's name has reached your ears, son of Belus, and talk of his glorious fame, he whom the Pelasgians, on false charges of treason, by atrocious perjury, because he opposed the war, sent innocent to his death, and who they mourn, now he's taken from the light: well my father, being poor, sent me here to the war when I was young, as his friend, as we were blood relatives. While Palamades was safe in power, and prospered in the kings' council, I also had some name and respect. But when he passed from this world above, through the jealousy of plausible Ulysses the tale's not unknown I was ruined, and spent my life in obscurity and grief, inwardly angry at the fate of my innocent friend.
Maddened I could not be silent, and I promised, if chance allowed, and if I ever returned as a victor to my native Argos, to avenge him, and with my words stirred bitter hatred. The first hint of trouble came to me from this, because of it Ulysses was always frightening me with new accusations, spreading veiled rumours among the people, and guiltily seeking to defend himself. He would not rest till, with Calchas as his instrument — but why I do unfold this unwelcome story?
Why hinder you? If you consider all Greeks the same, and that's sufficient, take your vengeance now: that's what the Ithacan wants, and the sons of Atreus would pay dearly for. Trembling with fictitious feelings he continued, saying: "The Greeks, weary with the long war, often longed to leave Troy and execute a retreat: if only they had! Often a fierce storm from the sea land-locked them, and the gale terrified them from leaving: once that horse, made of maple-beams, stood there, especially then, storm-clouds thundered in the sky.
Anxious, we send Eurypylus to consult Phoebus's oracle, and he brings back these dark words from the sanctuary: 'With blood, and a virgin sacrifice, you calmed the winds, O Greeks, when you first came to these Trojan shores, seek your return in blood, and the well-omened sacrifice of an Argive life. At this the Ithacan thrust the seer, Calchas, into their midst, demanding to know what the god's will might be, among the uproar. Many were already cruelly prophesying that ingenious man's wickedness towards me, and silently saw what was coming.
For ten days the seer kept silence, refusing to reveal the secret by his words, or condemn anyone to death. But at last, urged on by Ulysses's loud clamour, he broke into speech as agreed, and doomed me to the altar. All acclaimed it, and what each feared himself, they endured when directed, alas, towards one man's destruction. Now the terrible day arrived, the rites were being prepared for me, the salted grain, and the headbands for my forehead. I confess I saved myself from death, burst my bonds, and all that night hid by a muddy lake among the reeds, till they set sail, if as it happened they did.
And now I've no hope of seeing my old country again, or my sweet children or the father I long for: perhaps they'll seek to punish them for my flight, and avenge my crime through the death of these unfortunates. But I beg you, by the gods, by divine power that knows the truth, by whatever honour anywhere remains pure among men, have pity on such troubles, pity the soul that endures undeserved suffering.
Lines His lacrimis uitam damus et miserescimus ultro. Priami imperio Phrygibusque futurum; sin manibus uestris uestram ascendisset in urbem, ultro Asiam magno Pelopea ad moenia bello uenturam, et nostros ea fata manere nepotes. Sinon Deludes the Trojans With these tears we grant him his life, and also pity him.
Priam himself is the first to order his manacles and tight bonds removed, and speaks these words of kindness to him: "From now on, whoever you are, forget the Greeks, lost to you: you'll be one of us. And explain to me truly what I ask: Why have they built this huge hulk of a horse? Who created it? What do they aim at? What religious object or war machine is it? Only, Troy, maintain your assurances, if I speak truth, if I repay you handsomely: kept intact yourself, keep your promises intact.
All the hopes of the Greeks and their confidence to begin the war always depended on Pallas's aid. But from that moment when the impious son of Tydeus, Diomede, and Ulysses inventor of wickedness, approached the fateful Palladium to snatch it from its sacred temple, killing the guards on the citadel's heights, and dared to seize the holy statue, and touch the sacred ribbons of the goddess with blood-soaked hands: from that moment the hopes of the Greeks receded, and slipping backwards ebbed: their power fragmented, and the mind of the goddess opposed them.
Pallas gave sign of this, and not with dubious portents, for scarcely was the statue set up in camp, when glittering flames shone from the upturned eyes, a salt sweat ran over its limbs, and wonderful to tell she herself darted from the ground with shield on her arm, and spear quivering. Calchas immediately proclaimed that the flight by sea must be attempted, and that Troy cannot be uprooted by Argive weapons, unless they renew the omens at Argos, and take the goddess home, whom they have indeed taken by sea in their curved ships.
And now they are heading for their native Mycenae with the wind, obtaining weapons and the friendship of the gods, re-crossing the sea to arrive unexpectedly, So Calchas reads the omens. Warned by him, they've set up this statue of a horse for the wounded goddess, instead of the Palladium, to atone severely for their sin. And Calchas ordered them to raise the huge mass of woven timbers, raised to the sky, so the gates would not take it, nor could it be dragged inside the walls, or watch over the people in their ancient rites.
Since if your hands violated Minerva's gift, then utter ruin may the gods first turn that prediction on themselves! Lines Talibus insidiis periurique arte Sinonis credita res, captique dolis lacrimisque coactis quos neque Tydides nec Larisaeus Achilles, non anni domuere decem, non mille carinae. Hic aliud maius miseris multoque tremendum obicitur magis atque improuida pectora turbat. Then something greater and more terrible befalls us wretches, and stirs our unsuspecting souls. See, a pair of serpents with huge coils, snaking over the sea from Tenedos through the tranquil deep I shudder to tell it , and heading for the shore side by side: their fronts lift high over the tide, and their blood-red crests top the waves, the rest of their body slides through the ocean behind, and their huge backs arch in voluminous folds.
There's a roar from the foaming sea: now they reach the shore, and with burning eyes suffused with blood and fire, lick at their hissing jaws with flickering tongues. Blanching at the sight we scatter. He strains to burst the knots with his hands, his sacred headband drenched in blood and dark venom, while he sends terrible shouts up to the heavens, like the bellowing of a bull that has fled wounded, from the altar, shaking the useless axe from its neck. But the serpent pair escape, slithering away to the high temple, and seek the stronghold of fierce Pallas, to hide there under the goddess's feet, and the circle of her shield.
Lines tum uero tremefacta nouus per pectora cunctis insinuat pauor, et scelus expendisse merentem Laocoonta ferunt, sacrum qui cuspide robur laeserit et tergo sceleratam intorserit hastam. Vertitur interea caelum et ruit Oceano nox inuoluens umbra magna terramque polumque Myrmidonumque dolos; fusi per moenia Teucri conticuere; sopor fessos complectitur artus. All prepare themselves for the work and they set up wheels allowing movement under its feet, and stretch hemp ropes round its neck. That engine of fate mounts our walls pregnant with armed men.
Around it boys, and virgin girls, sing sacred songs, and delight in touching their hands to the ropes: Up it glides and rolls threateningly into the midst of the city. O my country, O Ilium house of the gods, and you, Trojan walls famous in war! Four times it sticks at the threshold of the gates, and four times the weapons clash in its belly: yet we press on regardless, blind with frenzy, and site the accursed creature on top of our sacred citadel.
Even then Cassandra, who, by the god's decree, is never to be believed by Trojans, reveals our future fate with her lips. We unfortunate ones, for whom that day is our last, clothe the gods' temples, throughout the city, with festive branches. Meanwhile the heavens turn, and night rushes from the Ocean, wrapping the earth, and sky, and the Myrmidons' tricks, in its vast shadow: through the city the Trojans fall silent: sleep enfolds their weary limbs. Lines et iam Argiua phalanx instructis nauibus ibat a Tenedo tacitae per amica silentia lunae litora nota petens, flammas cum regia puppis extulerat, fatisque deum defensus iniquis inclusos utero Danaos et pinea furtim laxat claustra Sinon.
Tempus erat quo prima quies mortalibus aegris incipit et dono diuum gratissima serpit. The Greeks Take the City And now the Greek phalanx of battle-ready ships sailed from Tenedos, in the benign stillness of the silent moon, seeking the known shore, when the royal galley raised a torch, and Sinon, protected by the gods' unjust doom, sets free the Greeks imprisoned by planks of pine, in the horses' belly. Opened, it releases them to the air, and sliding down a lowered rope, Thessandrus, and Sthenelus, the leaders, and fatal Ulysses, emerge joyfully from their wooden cave, with Acamas, Thoas, Peleus's son Neoptolemus, the noble Machaon, Menelaus, and Epeus who himself devised this trick.
They invade the city that's drowned in sleep and wine, kill the watchmen, welcome their comrades at the open gates, and link their clandestine ranks. It was the hour when first sleep begins for weary mortals, and steals over them as the sweetest gift of the gods. See, in dream, before my eyes, Hector seemed to stand there, saddest of all and pouring out great tears, torn by the chariot, as once he was, black with bloody dust, and his swollen feet pierced by the thongs.
Ah, how he looked! How changed he was from that Hector who returned wearing Achilles's armour, or who set Trojan flames to the Greek ships! His beard was ragged, his hair matted with blood, bearing those many wounds he received dragged around the walls of his city. And I seemed to weep myself, calling out to him, and speaking to him in words of sorrow: "Oh light of the Troad, surest hope of the Trojans, what has so delayed you?
What shore do you come from Hector, the long-awaited? Weary from the many troubles of our people and our city I see you, oh, after the death of so many of your kin! What shameful events have marred that clear face? And why do I see these wounds? Son of the goddess, fly, tear yourself from the flames. The enemy has taken the walls: Troy falls from her high place. Enough has been given to Priam and your country: if Pergama could be saved by any hand, it would have been saved by this.
Troy entrusts her sacred relics and household gods to you: take them as friends of your fate, seek mighty walls for them, those you will found at last when you have wandered the seas. Lines Diuerso interea miscentur moenia luctu, et magis atque magis, quamquam secreta parentis Anchisae domus arboribusque obtecta recessit, clarescunt sonitus armorumque ingruit horror.
Ecce autem telis Panthus elapsus Achiuum, Panthus Othryades, arcis Phoebique sacerdos, sacra manu uictosque deos paruumque nepotem ipse trahit cursuque amens ad limina tendit. Aeneas Gathers his Comrades Meanwhile the city is confused with grief, on every side, and though my father Anchises's house is remote, secluded and hidden by trees, the sounds grow clearer and clearer, and the terror of war sweeps upon it.
I shake off sleep, and climb to the highest roof-top, and stand there with ears strained: as when fire attacks a wheat-field when the south-wind rages, or the rushing torrent from a mountain stream covers the fields, drowns the ripe crops, the labour of oxen, and brings down the trees headlong, and the dazed shepherd, unaware, hears the echo from a high rocky peak. Now the truth is obvious, and the Greek plot revealed.
Now the vast hall of Deiphobus is given to ruin the fire over it: now Ucalegon's nearby blazes: the wide Sigean straits throw back the glare. Then the clamour of men and the blare of trumpets rises. Frantically I seize weapons: not because there is much use for weapons, but my spirit burns to gather men for battle and race to the citadel with my friends: madness and anger hurl my mind headlong, and I think it beautiful to die fighting.
Now, see, Panthus escaping the Greek spears, Panthus, son of Othrys, Apollo's priest on the citadel, dragging along with his own hands the sacred relics, the conquered gods, his little grandchild, running frantically to my door: "Where's the best advantage, Panthus, what position should we take? Troy is past, Ilium is past, and the great glory of the Trojans: Jupiter carries all to Argos: the Greeks are lords of the burning city. The horse, standing high on the ramparts, pours out warriors, and Sinon the conqueror exultantly stirs the flames. Others are at the wide-open gates, as many thousands as ever came from great Mycenae: more have blocked the narrow streets with hostile weapons: a line of standing steel with naked flickering blades is ready for the slaughter: barely the first few guards at the gates attempt to fight, and they resist in blind conflict.
Friends joined me, visible in the moonlight, Ripheus, and Epytus, mighty in battle, Hypanis and Dymas, gathered to my side, and young Coroebus, Mygdon's son: by chance he'd arrived in Troy at that time, burning with mad love for Cassandra, and brought help, as a potential son-in-law, to Priam, and the Trojans, unlucky man, who didn't listen to the prophecy of his frenzied bride! When I saw them crowded there eager for battle, I began as follows: "Warriors, bravest of frustrated spirits, if your ardent desire is fixed on following me to the end, you can see our cause's fate.
All the gods by whom this empire was supported have departed, leaving behind their temples and their altars: you aid a burning city: let us die and rush into battle. The beaten have one refuge, to have no hope of refuge. Lines sic animis iuuenum furor additus. Primus se Danaum magna comitante caterua Androgeos offert nobis, socia agmina credens inscius, atque ultro uerbis compellat amicis: 'festinate, uiri! Aeneas and his Friends Resist So their young spirits were roused to fury.
Then, like ravaging wolves in a dark mist, driven blindly by the cruel rage of their bellies, leaving their young waiting with thirsty jaws, we pass through our enemies, to certain death, and make our way to the heart of the city: dark night envelops us in deep shadow.
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Who could tell of that destruction in words, or equal our pain with tears? The ancient city falls, she who ruled for so many years: crowds of dead bodies lie here and there in the streets, among the houses, and on the sacred thresholds of the gods. Nor is it Trojans alone who pay the penalty with their blood: courage returns at times to the hearts of the defeated and the Greek conquerors die.
Cruel mourning is everywhere, everywhere there is panic, and many a form of death. First, Androgeos, meets us, with a great crowd of Greeks around him, unknowingly thinking us allied troops, and calls to us in friendly speech as well: "Hurry, men! What sluggishness makes you delay so? The others are raping and plundering burning Troy: are you only now arriving from the tall ships?
He was stunned, drew back, and stifled his voice. Like a man who unexpectedly treads on a snake in rough briars, as he strides over the ground, and shrinks back in sudden fear as it rears in anger and swells its dark-green neck, so Androgeos, shuddering at the sight of us, drew back.
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We charge forward and surround them closely with weapons, and ignorant of the place, seized by terror, as they are, we slaughter them wholesale. Fortune favours our first efforts. And at this Coroebus, exultant with courage and success, cries: "Oh my friends, where fortune first points out the path to safety, and shows herself a friend, let us follow.
Let's change our shields adopt Greek emblems. Courage or deceit: who'll question it in war? They'll arm us themselves. Ripheus does likewise, Dymas too, and all the warriors delight in it.
Each man arms himself with the fresh spoils. We pass on mingling with the Greeks, with gods that are not our known, and clash, in many an armed encounter, in the blind night, and we send many a Greek down to Orcus. Some scatter to the ships, and run for safer shores, some, in humiliated terror, climb the vast horse again and hide in the womb they know. Lines Heu nihil inuitis fas quemquam fidere diuis! Cassandra is Taken "Ah, put no faith in anything the will of the gods opposes! See, Priam's virgin daughter dragged, with streaming hair, from the sanctuary and temple of Minerva, lifting her burning eyes to heaven in vain: her eyes, since cords restrained her gentle hands.
Coroebus could not stand the sight, maddened in mind, and hurled himself among the ranks, seeking death. We follow him, and, weapons locked, charge together. Here, at first, we were overwhelmed by Trojan spears, hurled from the high summit of the temple, and wretched slaughter was caused by the look of our armour, and the confusion arising from our Greek crests.
Michelle Stroud (Author of Destiny's Child)
Then the Danaans, gathering from all sides, groaning with anger at the girl being pulled away from them, rush us, Ajax the fiercest, the two Atrides, all the Greek host: just as, at the onset of a tempest, conflicting winds clash, the west, the south, and the east that joys in the horses of dawn: the forest roars, brine-wet Nereus rages with his trident, and stirs the waters from their lowest depths.
Even those we have scattered by a ruse, in the dark of night, and driven right through the city, re-appear: for the first time they recognise our shields and deceitful weapons, and realise our speech differs in sound to theirs. In a moment we're overwhelmed by weight of numbers: first Coroebus falls, by the armed goddess's altar, at the hands of Peneleus: and Ripheus, who was the most just of all the Trojans, and keenest for what was right the gods' vision was otherwise : Hypanis and Dymas die at the hands of allies: and your great piety, Panthus, and Apollo's sacred headband can not defend you in your downfall.
Ashes of Ilium, death flames of my people, be witness that, at your ruin, I did not evade the Danaan weapons, nor the risks, and, if it had been my fate to die, I earned it with my sword. Then we are separated, Iphitus and Pelias with me, Iphitus weighed down by the years, and Pelias, slow-footed, wounded by Ulysses: immediately we're summoned to Priam's palace by the clamour. Lines hic uero ingentem pugnam, ceu cetera nusquam bella forent, nulli tota morerentur in urbe, sic Martem indomitum Danaosque ad tecta ruentis cernimus obsessumque acta testudine limen.
Dardanidae contra turris ac tota domorum culmina conuellunt; his se, quando ultima cernunt, extrema iam in morte parant defendere telis, auratasque trabes, ueterum decora alta parentum, deuoluunt; alii strictis mucronibus imas obsedere fores, has seruant agmine denso. Limen erat caecaeque fores et peruius usus tectorum inter se Priami, postesque relicti a tergo, infelix qua se, dum regna manebant, saepius Andromache ferre incomitata solebat ad soceros et auo puerum Astyanacta trahebat.
Vestibulum ante ipsum primoque in limine Pyrrhus exsultat telis et luce coruscus aena: qualis ubi in lucem coluber mala gramina pastus, frigida sub terra tumidum quem bruma tegebat, nunc, positis nouus exuuiis nitidusque iuuenta, lubrica conuoluit sublato pectore terga arduus ad solem, et linguis micat ore trisulcis. The Battle for the Palace Here's a great battle indeed, as if the rest of the war were nothing, as if others were not dying throughout the whole city, so we see wild War and the Greeks rushing to the palace, and the entrance filled with a press of shields.
Ladders cling to the walls: men climb the stairs under the very doorposts, with their left hands holding defensive shields against the spears, grasping the sloping stone with their right. In turn, the Trojans pull down the turrets and roof-tiles of the halls, prepared to defend themselves even in death, seeing the end near them, with these as weapons: and send the gilded roof-beams down, the glory of their ancient fathers.
Others with naked swords block the inner doors: these they defend in massed ranks. Our spirits were reinspired, to bring help to the king's palace, to relieve our warriors with our aid, and add power to the beaten. There was an entrance with hidden doors, and a passage in use between Priam's halls, and a secluded gateway beyond, which the unfortunate Andromache, while the kingdom stood, often used to traverse, going, unattended, to her husband's parents, taking the little Astyanax to his grandfather.
I reached the topmost heights of the pediment from which the wretched Trojans were hurling their missiles in vain. A turret standing on the sloping edge, and rising from the roof to the sky, was one from which all Troy could be seen, the Danaan ships, and the Greek camp: and attacking its edges with our swords, where the upper levels offered weaker mortar, we wrenched it from its high place, and sent it flying: falling suddenly it dragged all to ruin with a roar, and shattered far and wide over the Greek ranks.
But more arrived, and meanwhile neither the stones nor any of the various missiles ceased to fly. In front of the courtyard itself, in the very doorway of the palace, Pyrrhus exults, glittering with the sheen of bronze: like a snake, fed on poisonous herbs, in the light, that cold winter has held, swollen, under the ground, and now, gleaming with youth, its skin sloughed, ripples its slimy back, lifts its front high towards the sun, and darts its triple-forked tongue from its jaws.
Huge Periphas, and Automedon the armour-bearer, driver of Achilles's team, and all the Scyrian youths, advance on the palace together and hurl firebrands onto the roof. Pyrrhus himself among the front ranks, clutching a double-axe, breaks through the stubborn gate, and pulls the bronze doors from their hinges: and now, hewing out the timber, he breaches the solid oak and opens a huge window with a gaping mouth.
Love and its Critics
The palace within appears, and the long halls are revealed: the inner sanctums of Priam, and the ancient kings, appear, and armed men are seen standing on the very threshold. Lines at domus interior gemitu miseroque tumultu miscetur, penitusque cauae plangoribus aedes femineis ululant; ferit aurea sidera clamor.
Priam's Fate But, inside the palace, groans mingle with sad confusion, and, deep within, the hollow halls howl with women's cries: the clamour strikes the golden stars. Trembling mothers wander the vast building, clasping the doorposts, and placing kisses on them. Pyrrhus drives forward, with his father Achilles's strength, no barricades nor the guards themselves can stop him: the door collapses under the ram's blows, and the posts collapse, wrenched from their sockets.
Strength makes a road: the Greeks, pour through, force a passage, slaughter the front ranks, and fill the wide space with their men. A foaming river is not so furious, when it floods, bursting its banks, overwhelms the barriers against it, and rages in a mass through the fields, sweeping cattle and stables across the whole plain. I saw Pyrrhus myself, on the threshold, mad with slaughter, and the two sons of Atreus: I saw Hecuba, her hundred women, and Priam at the altars, polluting with blood the flames that he himself had sanctified.
Those fifty chambers, the promise of so many offspring, the doorposts, rich with spoils of barbarian gold, crash down: the Greeks possess what the fire spares. And maybe you ask, what was Priam's fate. When he saw the end of the captive city, the palace doors wrenched away, and the enemy among the inner rooms, the aged man clasped his long-neglected armour on his old, trembling shoulders, and fastened on his useless sword, and hurried into the thick of the enemy seeking death. In the centre of the halls, and under the sky's naked arch, was a large altar, with an ancient laurel nearby, that leant on the altar, and clothed the household gods with shade.
Here Hecuba, and her daughters, like doves driven by a dark storm, crouched uselessly by the shrines, huddled together, clutching at the statues of the gods. And when she saw Priam himself dressed in youthful armour she cried: "What mad thought, poor husband, urges you to fasten on these weapons? Where do you run? The hour demands no such help, nor defences such as these, not if my own Hector were here himself.
Here, I beg you, this altar will protect us all or we'll die together. See, Polites, one of Priam's sons, escaping Pyrrhus's slaughter, runs down the long hallways, through enemies and spears, and, wounded, crosses the empty courts. Pyrrhus chases after him, eager to strike him, and grasps at him now, and now, with his hand, at spear-point.
When finally he reached the eyes and gaze of his parents, he fell, and poured out his life in a river of blood. Priam, though even now in death's clutches, did not spare his voice at this, or hold back his anger: "If there is any justice in heaven, that cares about such things, may the gods repay you with fit thanks, and due reward for your wickedness, for such acts, you who have made me see my own son's death in front of my face, and defiled a father's sight with murder. Yet Achilles, whose son you falsely claim to be, was no such enemy to Priam: he respected the suppliant's rights, and honour, and returned Hector's bloodless corpse to its sepulchre, and sent me home to my kingdom.
Pyrrhus spoke to him: "Then you can be messenger, carry the news to my father, to Peleus's son: remember to tell him of degenerate Pyrrhus, and of my sad actions: now die. This was the end of Priam's life: this was the death that fell to him by lot, seeing Troy ablaze and its citadel toppled, he who was once the magnificent ruler of so many Asian lands and peoples. A once mighty body lies on the shore, the head shorn from its shoulders, a corpse without a name.
Lines At me tum primum saeuus circumstetit horror. Troia arserit igni? Dardanium totiens sudarit sanguine litus? Aeneas Sees Helen Then for the first time a wild terror gripped me. I stood amazed: my dear father's image rose before me as I saw a king, of like age, with a cruel wound, breathing his life away: and my Creusa, forlorn, and the ransacked house, and the fate of little Iulus.
I looked back, and considered the troops that were round me. They had all left me, wearied, and hurled their bodies to earth, or sick with misery dropped into the flames. So I was alone now, when I saw the daughter of Tyndareus, Helen, close to Vesta's portal, hiding silently in the secret shrine: the bright flames gave me light, as I wandered, gazing everywhere, randomly. Afraid of Trojans angered at the fall of Troy, Greek vengeance, and the fury of a husband she deserted, she, the mutual curse of Troy and her own country, had concealed herself and crouched, a hated thing, by the altars.
Fire blazed in my spirit: anger rose to avenge my fallen land, and to exact the punishment for her wickedness. When Priam has been put to the sword? Troy consumed with fire?
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