Towards the end of the “Rivers of Blood” speech, Enoch Powell alludes to the Latin epic poem The Aeneid written by the ancient Roman poet Virgil. In the poem, the Sibyl – an oracle – makes a prophecy regarding the destiny of Rome and predicts bloodshed.
Powell alludes to this fragment from The Aeneid at the end of his speech, when he predicts a terrible future for the UK if immigration is allowed to continue: “As I look ahead, I am filled with foreboding; like the Roman, I seem to see ‘the River Tiber foaming with much blood’ ” (paragraph 23).
This allusion makes the speech more dramatic and is used to create a feeling of nervousness and a desire to act in the general population. In this context, the allusion is also xenophobic and illustrates Powell’s fear and distress rabout mass immigration to the UK.
Powell introduces several rhetor...