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On Poem The Aeneid - Essay Example

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On Poem The Aeneid

Aeneas’ main duty is to sail to Italy and build a new city there, a city to replace Troy, which had been destroyed by the Greeks. This new city will one day become Rome, the capital of a great empire. But Aeneas is continually hindered in his plans by the anger of the goddess Juno, who wants to prevent the creation of Rome because she knows that the Romans are fated to destroy her own favorite city, which is Carthage. So Juno persuades Aeolus, god of the winds, to unleash a great storm, and Aeneas and his men are shipwrecked on the coast at Carthage. Once in Carthage, Aeneas begins to lose his sense of duty. This is partly caused by the action of Venus, who tells her son, Cupid, to make Dido, Queen of Carthage, fall in love with Aeneas. But it is mainly because Aeneas himself enjoys life in Carthage with Dido, and his intention to sail to Italy begins to weaken. Aeneas and Dido enjoy hunting and feasting together. Iarbas sees all this and is jealous - because Dido had rejected Iarbas’ advances. So Iarbas complains to the god Jupiter that Aeneas has become lazy and decadent and has forgotten his duty to build a new city in Italy. Jupiter agrees, and sends Mercury to tell Aeneas that he must remember his duty, abandon Dido and sail to Italy. Aeneas is conflicted, because he also has a duty to Dido – to be faithful to her – but Aeneas cannot disobey the gods and he sets sail for Italy. After Aeneas has deserted her, Dido goes mad with grief and kills herself. By doing this she fails in her own duty, which was to remain alive to take care of her sister, Anna, and her people, the Carthaginians. Yet we cannot really blame Dido, who had loved Aeneas with such passion. Dido is perhaps a more believable and interesting person than Aeneas – his piety and his duty become almost annoying after a while, as we are told of them so often. Dido curses Aeneas and prophesies that there will be everlasting war between the people of Carthage and the people of Rome. This is one example to tell us that The Aeneid is also a political poem, since it brings in an actual historical event. But it is not really “propaganda”, since Rome’s enemies - the Carthaginians - are here portrayed sympathetically. They are generous to Aeneas and his men and they have a beautiful city. When he arrives in Italy, Aeneas’ piety develops even further and he becomes an almost priestly figure. The first thing that he does in Italy is to visit the temple of Apollo and the cave of Apollo’s prophetess, the Sibyl. Aeneas asks the Sibyl’s help to enter the underworld, where the souls of the dead are to be found, because he wants to see again his deceased father, Anchises. The Sibyl tells him that first of all he must give a proper funeral to Misenus, who had just died, and pluck a golden bough from the forest, which will give him admittance to the underworld. Only pious and dutiful people like Aeneas are allowed to visit the underworld and return from there. In the underworld, Aeneas encounters the ghost of Anchises, who gives him philosophical and religious teaching about the divine Spirit which fills the universe, the importance of good conduct, and the immortality of souls. Anchises also shows Aeneas a group of souls who have not yet been born into the world, but who will one day achieve great things for the future city of Rome. These figures include Julius Caesar and his nephew ...Show more


How does Aeneas’ piety and sense of duty change as the poem unfolds? To what extent is The Aeneid a political poem? Is it propaganda? Discuss with reasons and examples. Books 1, 4 and 6. Aeneas is famous for his piety and his sense of duty, and there are many examples of this in the poem…
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