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.
This article briefly surveys literary sources on the Rutulians and Turnus and finds them to have been neither particularly informative nor plentiful. In fashioning his portrait of Turnus and his people, Vergil exploited that dearth of information by countering it and adding details not found in the earlier traditions. His inventive portrait of the heritage of Turnus, which emphasizes ethnic diversity, creates several parallels between Turnus and Aeneas, and helps make him both a direct counterpart and formidable opponent to the Trojan hero. By making the two warriors more similar than different via their mixed Italian and Greek ancestry, Vergil homogenizes them to the ethnically complex population of Rome during the age of Augustus.