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Virgil and the Aeneid - Essay Example

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The Greeks shape bronze statues so real they seem to breathe, And carve cold marble until it almost comes to life, the Greeks compose great orations and measure the Heavens so well they can predict the rising of the stars…
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Virgil and the Aeneid
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Virgil and the Aeneid

Download file to see previous pages... It is common place to find reference to the Greeks as the Fathers of Civilization. As such, they left behind a lot that would cause the Romans to look up to them time and again. It is said that Julius Caesar wept when he stood before a statue of Alexander the Great in a temple of Heracles in Gades, fearing he would never be as great himself, but today many believe that in truth Caesar was the greater of the two giants due to his greater contribution to history.Greeks clung onto Homer as a celebrity of their own time; although his existence today-as portrayed by the many accounts of his life-is disputed it was not so for Virgil who in typical Roman fashion found his talents could not be better used than to create something greater than Homeric literature. Aeneid describes the adventures of the Roman ancestor, Aneis after the fall of Troy at the hands of the Greeks. The epic poem purports to depict that the founding of Rome was guided by the hand of destiny, glorifying the later adopted values and virtues of the Roman tradition. This discussion would proceed by considering Virgil's greatest work in light of the projections cast by the image of the Illiad-by Homer- and would further assess whether there is indeed such a rivalry between the two masterpieces and if one can truly be said to be better than the other. Most scholars today agree that the Odyssey and the Iliad are later codifications of tales that were handed down verbally through generations; this assertion is made particularly in light of disputed accounts as to the existence of Homer himself. It is important to note that there is no such difficulty with the Aeneid, which can be traced back to it's origin as being largely the work of one author (Varius Rufus helped finish the poem). This in itself appears to be the first difference between the two works.

Nevertheless, the similarities lie in the way the poems have been written. Virgil like Homer starts his work by setting Aeneis in an ongoing scheme of events depicting him to be leading his fleet away from Troy after its fall. In further similarity to Homeric literature the annoyance of Juno (Hera for Greeks) is made the backdrop of the whole scenario so as to provide a continuation of the Trojan War saga and admittedly both works attempt to form history while also introducing a fair amount of myth. It should further be noted that the Aeneid seems to borrow from the adventurer themes of the Odyssey, often showing Aeneis to be persevering similarly to Odysseus in search for his 'home'; the Aeneid also seems to borrow from the warrior themes of the Illiad.

In light of such obvious connections between the two works it remains fair to ask whether their effects were also similar. Upon first glance it would appear to be so, since the Romans-always earnest to measure themselves up to the Greeks-immediately idolized the Aenied much like the Greeks in their own time. While no Ceasar was known to sleep with a copy of the Aeneid, the poem had the same effect of projecting glorious images of the past as Homer's work. It is upon closer examination of the Aeneid that one begins to realize that it was very much different from Homeric literature in its implications.

Virgil produced this masterpiece in the last decade of his life, at a time when he was in close association with Augustus Caesar, who-having suspended the senate-was seeking legitimacy. Although it is hard to imagine Augustus Caesar failing to become emperor without Virgil's contribution it has to be admitted that the poem played a ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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