Classical Quarterly 41 (01):255- (1991)

The curious phrase ‘vis abdita quaedam’ has traditionally divided commentators into two camps. One group cautiously ensures that 5.1233–5 is kept consistent with the poem's overall scientific perspective and pre-empts any reference on the poet's part to a supernatural force. Munro, for instance, glosses the phrase as ‘the secret power and working of nature’. He supports this interpretation by finding in Book 6 a passage that he believes refers to the same disruptive and destructive physical force . Along the same lines Minadeo proposes that we regard ‘vis abdita quaedam’ as ‘the principle of destruction in the universe’. He understands the phrase to refer to a force which balances the creative or generative force in nature, just as Strife counters Love in the Empedoclean cosmology. It can be said in favour of this interpretation that the words ‘vis abdita quaedam’ must refer most immediately to lines 1226–32. Certainly, vis recalls the phrase ‘vis violenti… venti’ , the violent force of the wind which destroys a naval effort, by sweeping a general, his fleet, his legions and his elephants into the sea
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DOI 10.1017/S0009838800003773
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