Abstract

This article questions the dominant reading of Maffeo Vegio’s fifteenth-century Supplement to the Aeneid as a determinedly positive text that imposes total closure on Virgil’s epic. Vegio does not, as some contemporaries did, criticize Aeneas overtly. He does, however, pointedly sideline and diminish the figure of Aeneas’ son, Ascanius, to the extent that his succession to his father’s position becomes doubtful. Last seen in the Aeneid as an adolescent and heroic next-in-line to Aeneas, in the Supplement Ascanius is relegated to childhood and obscurity. This treatment of Ascanius maintains Vegio’s focus on Aeneas, and smooths the succession for his new half-Italian son by Lavinia. However, it also highlights the inconsistency in the Aeneid that both Ascanius and his half-brother are spoken of as Aeneas’ heir and brings to mind Ascanius’ problematic adolescence in the second half of Virgil’s epic, where he appeared an inheritor of his father’s excesses rather than his pietas and virtus. Vegio thus makes it clear that moving forward from the end of the Aeneid requires a supreme act of forgetfulness, erasing not only our memory of Aeneas’ frenzy in Book 12 but also his Trojan son, who represented hope for the future throughout Virgil’s text.

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