Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy




Pogorzelski, Randall J.


This study is a comparative analysis that focuses on the portrayal of guilt in Vergil’s Aeneid and Lucan’s Bellum Civile. I use Greek and Roman concepts of emotions and modern theories from psychology and psychoanalysis to argue that many of the emotions that seemingly pervade these poems, such as anger and despair, should be read as being partly related to a hero’s experience of guilt. I examine different types of guilt, namely legal and psychological guilt, to better understand how Vergil and Lucan use guilt to develop the emotional landscapes of their poems and how they represent the psychological processes and effects that this emotion elicits in their characters.

I also argue that Vergil and Lucan make the characters’ psychological guilt manifest by utilizing specific literary devices. I analyze episodes that describe the intervention and influence of the gods in the Aeneid and Fatum and Fortuna in the Bellum Civile. I demonstrate that one of the roles these divinities maintain is directly associated with the heroes’ experience of guilt because they act as promoters, preventers, and alleviators of guilt and actions that will incur guilt. Finally, I examine dream accounts and appearances of ghosts and apparitions to show how the poets use these mechanisms to make their characters’ latent psychological struggle with guilt manifest to the reader because they represent external embodiments of this emotion.