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Since Claudian draws upon Virgil as a model in this simile, Philip Hardie's structural scheme for understanding the storm episode in Virgil's Aeneid may be adduced to highlight those elements that Claudian recasts in De raptu. Hardie's scheme is as follows:
In De raptu, these key motifs appear in a different arrangement:
(De raptu 1.69-75) Just as the mighty Boreas, when armed with harsh whirlwind, hoary with snowy ice--his wings frozen with Getic hail--desires to blow forth to ravage the woods and fields with a roaring tempest; but if by chance a hostile Aeolus throws against him brazen doors, the assault disappears into the void and the broken gales return to their prison.
An exemplary passage is the dangerous moment in De raptu when Pluto "blaze[s] into rage" (exarsit in iras, 1.32) and prepares to launch a Gigantomachy:
(De raptu 2.343-47) Forgetful of their crimes and of frightening madness, the Furies prepare the mixing bowl and drink the wine with their terrible hair; their threats laid aside, now singing softly, they extend their companion serpents towards the filled cups and kindle the festive torches with a different light.
The passage De raptu 1.37-40 quoted above exhibits these more familiar epic Furies of destruction (see, e.g., Aen.
For clues let us turn to Stephen Wheeler, who draws from Rene Girard's seminal Violence and the Sacred to read the De raptu. Girard theorizes that a community, by ritually sacrificing a surrogate victim, purges itself of the energy for internecine strife and thereby maintains order.
The ambiguous torches persist in the Furies' wedding preparations in De raptu: though these torches are inauspicious, being carried by hellish creatures, at the same time they are the ritually proper torches of a wedding--appropriately here, a wedding in hell.
If it seems extraordinary for the Furies to possess contradictory personalities in the De raptu, perhaps it is to remind us that Venus exhibits similar duality in Roman epics.
Beobachtungen zur poetischen Technik und dichterischen Kunst des Claudius Claudianus, besonders in seinem Werk "De raptu Proserpinae." Frankfurt am Main.