- May 10, 2020
TheAeneid by Virgil — Examining ways it Appeal to the ways of the Contemporary Society?
TheAeneidby Virgil — Examining ways it Appeal to the ways of theContemporary Society?
TheArneid,authored by Virgil between 28 and 19 BC, is a Latin epic poem thatpresents a story of the legend, Aeaneas, a Trojan who moves from Troyto Italy, where he establishes a cityand becomes the founder of theRome. TheArneidcomprises of 9,896 lines, divided into two. The first part documentsAeaneas’ experiences as he wandersfrom Troy to Italy, while thesecond part covers the events of war with the Latins, in which theTrojans emergesuccessful. It is argued that heroAeaneashas long beenknown in the Greco-Roman myths and epic tales. The author exploitedon the existent, fragmented stories, including his adventures andwanderings and weak associations with the origin of Rome, anddeveloped a compelling story with anaccount of the Punic Wars,glorifying the c Roman virtues and, at the same time, legitimatizingthe Julio-Claudian dynasties as the true founders and heroes of Romeand Troy. The Arneidisalso argued to have been authored at the time of significant socialand political transformations in Rome, especially marked by the fallof the Republic and wars that had faulted the notion ofexceptionalism of Rome. The literaturecontinues to wield popularity in the contemporary society, whichelicitsthe questions of whether it could still hold any relevance tothe modern world, other than presenting historical archetypes.Regardless of the time it was written,the Arneid stillappeals to the ways of the contemporary society because of the themesit presents — the glorification piousness and selflessness, beliefsin divinity, the conception of fate, and the existence of violence.
Oneof the strong points that make the Arneidrelevant to the contemporary societyis how it strives to glorify Aeneas as the pious character. He isdepicted as a man who exhibits morality and who is selfless inserving those who are around him, exercising leadership, andobserving the wills of his gods. As conceived in the contemporarysociety, exemplary leadership is judged based on the capacity of oneto be selfless and pursue the common interests for the society he isin charge. Throughout the poem, hero Aeneas is presented as carryingimage of a pious man. Indeed, even Aeneas, through his actions,qualifies the centrality of this theme. Aeneas narrates how hesacrifices to help his father. Such a point depicts Aeneas as sobrave that he sacrifices his ownwellbeing to assist the vulnerable.
Hispiety nature transcends other spheres of his life. This character isevidenced by his subservience to the will of the gods, even when itwent against his interests. This point particularly comes outclearly, when he says he does sails to Italy not because of his whim(Virgil8). The selflessness in him isseen when he leads his people in a journey to Italy. While he had theoption of backing down to chase his dreams, the character remainsfocused on delivering what was already preordained by the gods.
Thesecond point that ties the poem with the ways of the contemporaryworld is divine interventions. Like the contemporary society in whichevents of life are believed to be mediated by divinity, the poempresents situations in which gods are believed to constantlyinfluence characters and determine the outcomes of events. Forinstance, Juno is seen to have come down to scare Turnus away frommortal Aeneas. While it seems obvious Aeneas would be victorious, allthat the phantom does is to delay the outcome. Moreover, acts ofdivine intervention are seen many times. For instance, when Aeneasand Dido fall in love, it happens the gods inspired theirrelationship.
Inthe excerpt, Juno speaks to Venus, asking the gods influence therelationship between Aeneas and Dido, which they do. However, it isalso not long before Jupiter comes in to restore the destined pathfor Aeneas, and this act is seen when it sends Mercury to appear inAeneas`s dreams, reminding him to continue with the journey to Italyand move away from Dido. Aeneas, by virtue of his piety, finds thecall irresistible and explains to Dido that he had to leave. In otherwords, but for the call from the gods, Aeneas would have stopped toenjoy his marriage with her.
Thethird way that Arneid plotrelates to the ways of the modern world is the belief concerningfate. Like the contemporary society, the epic poem presents fate as apredetermined destiny that men must chase. A typical example thispoint manifests itself is when Aeneas is to lead the Trojans toItaly. When he falls in love with Dido, Jupiter uses Mercury to urgeher to chase the path of the mission. From this point, it can beinferred that Mercury inferring from the obligation that the godsalready planned for Aeneas. This description is not any differentfrom the beliefs that the contemporary society holds, especially thatone’s destiny is always already predetermined. Another suitableexample of fate is when the queen thinks that it was Aeneas whoshould marry Dido because it had been long prophesized. Since Dido isparticularly convinced about his belief, she becomes so distraughtwhen Aeneas insists on leaving her and kills herself violently.
Lastly,the theme of violence and conflict also lends itself as a strongpoint that mirrors the way of life of the ancient societies, whichalso happens to relate to the modern world. During the ancient times,violence and conflicts were perceived as a way of conquering ordefense for survival. In the epic, the Aeneas`s journey is triggeredby a conflict, the Trojan War that leads to the destruction of Troy.Aeneas provides an account of the massive destruction that followedwhen the Greeks attacked Troy. He remembers calling upon his men todefend the city, urging them to fight to death (Virgil87). This line can be consideredas an example of how violence typically begets violence — despitethe fact that Trojans have been so overwhelmed and already lost thewar, they are encouraged to continue fighting. These forms ofviolence transcend the series of epic journey that the Trojans maketowards Italy. One of the notable examples of this is when Dido killsherself in a very violent way just because she is heartbroken becauseAeneas is leaving her. The violence is also seen when Aeneas fightswith Tarnus. The poem presents different form of violence resultingto events of bloodshed, which would otherwise contravene the call forhumanity.
Inconclusion, the aim of this essay has been to examine ways in whichthe epic poem written by Virgil, the Aeneid,appeals to the contemporary society. It has successfully defended thethesis that, indeed, regardlessof the time it was written, the Arneidstillmirrors the present society based on the themes it presents, whichinclude piety, divine intervention, fate, and violence and conflicts.in one way, as in the contemporary society, exemplary leadership isperceived based on the capacity of one to be selfless and pursue thecommon interests for the people he is in charge. Throughout the poem,hero Aeneas is presented a pious man, and the emphasis on thisattribute is exemplified by the many times that the phrase “piousAeneas" is mentioned, as well as the acts by Aeneas himself.Secondly, the piece presents situations in which gods are believed toconstantly influence characters and determine the outcomes of events,which is not any different from the ways of the modern society.Thirdly, the epic poem presents fate as a planned destiny that menmust follow, which corresponds to the beliefs of many people in themodern society that the purpose of life is always predetermined.Lastly, the subject of violence and conflicts also lends itself as astrong theme that mirrors the way of life of the ancient societies,which also happens to relate to the ways of life of the modern world.
Virgil.Ahl,Frederick (trans.)The Aeneid. Oxford:Oxford University Press, 2007. Print