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  • 1 University of St. Thomas Dept. of Modern and Classical Languages 2115 Summit Avenue Saint Paul MN 55105 USA
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A survey of Vergil’s uses of the word umbra and comparisons with its uses in other Roman poets reveals that Vergil was the first poet to deploy umbra, previously neutral or negative in connotation, with positive associations, and that he may have been the first to coin it as meaning ‘ghost’. Unlike many other poets, Vergil exploits the multivalent potential of umbra, requiring readers to interpret his usage. The fact that all of Vergil’s varied uses of umbra appear in the Culex suggests that it was written by an astute follower who was perceptive to the poet’s nuanced usage of the term.