6 March 2016
Pius Aeneas and Cunning Ulysses
Homer’s The Odyssey and Virgil’s The Aeneid are parallel stories about two different heroes who go through similar experiences with vastly different personal characteristics. Odysseus exhibits metis, the quality of cleverness and self-interest that contrasts to Aeneas’ own quality, piety. Pius Aeneas follows his sense of duty and honor to his people and his gods over his own self-interest. Through the indirect comparisons of Aeneas to Odysseus in the Aeneid, Virgil is comparing the honorable, godly Romans to the clever yet deceitful Greeks as a piece of propaganda to catapult Roman civilization above and beyond other civilizations.
In The Odyssey, Homer …show more content…
To the Greeks, Aeneas may be seen as a coward. However, in Virgil’s tale, Aeneas is an honorable man who was dragged out of the fight by Venus in order to pursue higher goals delivered to him by the gods and to protect his house (p. 98). The god Mercury convinces Aeneas that he must leave Carthage to ensure Ascanius’ empire in Italy (p. 137). Aeneas does so for his son, despite his love for Dido. Aeneas always obeys the gods even when it causes him personal pain, such as leaving Creusa and Dido behind. In other words, Aeneas strives for a future for his descendants and to continue the legacy of Troy by trusting in the …show more content…
Odysseus is helped by Athena who likes him- a fierce yet wise warrior- because she herself is the Goddess of war and wisdom. Venus helps Aeneas because she is his mother. “You are my son. Never fear my orders. Never refuse to bow to my commands.” (p. 95) To the Romans, this would put Aeneas as superior to Odysseus because Aeneas is half-divine. Meanwhile, Juno fought with the Greeks and went on to interfere with Aeneas as much as she could through his journey. Juno interfered with Aeneas because of a prophecy that the descendants of Trojans were destined to destroy her favorite city Carthage (p. 47-48). This is an aetiology of Punic Wars between Rome and Carthage not long before Virgil’s time and lends credence to the story. Juno directly hinders Aeneas in an attempt to prevent or delay his divine journey that will inevitably lead to Carthage’s destruction. Virgil clearly wants the Roman audience to sympathize with Aeneas. Juno’s hatred for Aeneas directly contrasts Poseidon’s hatred for Odysseus. Odysseus blinded and humiliated Polyphemus (The Odyssey, Book 9), one of Poseidon’s children. Poseidon interferes with Odysseus due to a negative action Odysseus takes, while Juno interferes with Aeneas due to ramifications of Aeneas’ journey thousands of years into the future when Carthage is defeated. Clearly, Aeneas’ actions are much more heavily weighted than Odysseus’ actions, which again leads the Roman audience