Aeneid - Essay Example

Aeneas is the hero of Virgil's Aeneid. He survives the siege of Troy by the Greeks, who entered the city deceitfully, by hiding themselves in a large wooden horse. This epic poem is in two parts…
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Download file to see previous pages Aeneas is the hero of Virgil's Aeneid. He survives the siege of Troy by the Greeks, who entered the city deceitfully, by hiding themselves in a large wooden horse. This epic poem is in two parts.Tthe first part is about Aeneas' flight from Troy accompanied by his father, Anchises, and son, Ascanius (his wife dies in the confusion following the sack of Troy), and the ordeals he faces, till finally he reaches Rome.This ordeal includes long voyages across the seas, interrupted by significant events that include a stop over at Carthage, where he falls in love with their queen Dido, and lives with her. But he has to finally leave, sacrificing his personal feelings to the pull of destiny and the call of duty. Fate decrees that he reaches Italy. The second part (Books 7-12) deals with how Aeneas wins the hand of Princess Lavinia, after defeating Turnus, her suitor. Just as this Trojan, Aeneas, was destined to rule Rome, so his descendants-Roman emperors-are destined to rule the world.Virgil wrote this book between 29 and 19 BCE; he lived in the Golden Age of the Roman Empire, when Emperor Augustus Octavius ruled Rome, and the Empire had expanded its territory, considerably, by conquest. Virgil depicts Aeneas as the personification of duty-towards his ancestors-and towards his descendants, among who are Julius Caesar and Augustus Caesar who have added to the glory of the empire. The epic poem opens with the following lines which state that it is Aeneas' destiny to father the race that is to rule Rome: "Arms, and the man I sing, who, forc'd by fate,/Expell'd and exil'd, left the Trojan shore./ Long labors, both by sea and land, he bore,/ And in the doubtful war, before he won/ The Latian realm, and built the destin'd town;/ His banish'd gods restor'd to rites divine,/ And settled sure succession in his line,/ From whence the race of Alban fathers come,/ And the long glories of majestic Rome"(lines 1.1-10) Aeneas' name itself is mentioned only beyond 200 lines, "Aeneas climbs the mountain's airy brow.."(line1.238), implying that Aeneas, as a person is not so important, as Aeneas as a tool of the gods and destiny-to lead Rome to her glory.
Aeneas relates his story. He talks of how he nearly killed Helen as he saw her to be the cause of all the problems. However, he is stopped by Venus (his mother) who tells him that it is neither Helen nor Paris who is responsible for all that has happened, but "the harsh will of the gods"(2. 792)
When Aeneas leaves Dido, he is shown as sacrificing personal happiness to a greater calling-his duty of fulfilling his destiny by reaching Latium, where he will establish what is to become the Roman Empire. "I sail for Italy not of my own free will" (4.499).
In Book 6, Aeneas is shown visiting the underworld, where he meets his father, who has passed away. Here Virgil, through Anchises' words predicts the glory that is to be Rome. We should not dismiss these words as an outright attempt by the poet to keep his patron, the Emperor Augustus, happy. Virgil certainly believed that he lived at a period when Rome's power was at its zenith, when he wrote the following, "Now fix your sight, and stand intent, to see/ Your Roman race, and Julian progeny./ The mighty Caesar waits his vital hour,/ Impatient for the world, and grasps his promis'd pow'r./ But next behold the youth of form divine/ Ceasar himself, exalted in his line;/ Augustus, promis'd oft, and long foretold,/ Sent to the realm that Saturn rul'd of old;/ Born to restore a better age of gold./ Afric and India shall his pow'r obey;/He shall extend his propagated sway/ Beyond the solar year, without the starry way,/ Where Atlas turns the rolling heav'ns around,/ And his broad shoulders with their lights are crown'd.(6.1084-1098)
The debate over whether Virgil really meant his praise of Emperor Augustus, or whether he did it because he had to, arises from certain passages, which are seen as a veiled criticism of him. In Book 6, he talks of "two gates ...Download file to see next pagesRead more
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