The cultural and historical legacy of classical antiquity in Rudolf Borchardt’s essay on Virgil’s Aeneid

Liliana Giacoponi


In Germany Virgil’s work had long been considered a fake re-interpretation of Greek models, lacking originality and life: Virgil himself was seen as a mere servant of power. This essay explores how Borchardt sought to undermine the accepted interpretation of the author of the Aeneid. It will show that while reinterpreting Virgil’s legacy, Borchardt set out a completely new vision of his work and how this vision differs from the fascist exaltation of Virgil. It will focus on Borchardt’s inference that the Aeneid is at the same time a message from the past and a message of hope for the future. It discusses to what extent examining the present through Virgil’s work, he endeavours to escape the disruptive power of the crisis of the 1930s. Finally, it will expose how the author finds an emblematic alter-ego in the character of the exiled Aeneas.


Aeneid; Borchardt; crisis; rebirth; Virgil

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