The Aeneid Books VII – XII

Scales Swam on Skin, Seized a Poor Soul

Few people can say, “Why, of course I’ve read about a snake slipping between a woman’s breasts!”  To the disgust of some, thrill of others, but definitely to the creepy lack of comfort of all, the Saint Katherine College Core Integration class can affirm this statement.  The black snake, Queen Amata’s invincible and invisible violator, resonated to me both obvious and less obvious depictions of hell.  Most noticeable was the creature’s form as a serpent and later being referred to as a “prodigy of hell” (p. 208).  More subtly, other hellish depictions included the common demonic act of infecting the soul, not to mention a woman’s soul (woman overpowered by serpent—very Eve-like).  An additional portrayal I initially overlooked was the word flame: “…her soul had not responded fully to the flame” and later “…now enflamed by prodigies of hell.”

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