Monday, September 14, 2009

Aeneid Short Essay Response #3

In Book I l.157-207, Aeneas does what he can to comfort his surviving companions after their shipwreck. He does this both in words and deeds. Describe what Aeneas' speech and actions reveal about Vergil's characterization of him as a Roman hero.

Due to my tardiness in posting this promt, a response will not be due until 11:59 pm Thursday night.


Christina said...

The first action of Aeneas is to feed his people, showing to them that he is still a strong leader capable of providing for them and leading them to safety. Next, he gives a short but powerful speech, imploring his men to remember how they have "passi graviora"(Line 199, suffered worse things), and gather their courage to push on even more, showing the Roman emphasis on both physical and mental stamina. Aeneas also implores his people to trust in a god, as well as relying on the fates, to help them through their trials, due to the Roman's belief in supernatural guiding forces. Aeneas also mentions that "illic fas regna resurgere Troiae" (Line 206, there will rise the kingdom of Troy), revealing how strongly the Romans connected their homeland and empire to success, even in a foreign land.
The last action of Aeneas is to "premit altum cerde dolorem" (Line 209, hide the depth of his sorrow), giving his people the sense that he has everything under control, and that they should not despair, since he himself has not given up hope yet. This also shows the Roman attitude toward bravery, strength, and courage, as Aeneas pushes down his feelings to keep all of his men together and functioning.

George said...

After the arduous trial of the tempest, Aeneas gathers what is left of his fleet and sets ashore on an island not far from Libya. From the second they land, he instantly sets about providing for his people. He ensure that they are preparing food, “frugesque receptas et torrere parant flammis et frangere saxo” (and prepare to parch the rescued grain in the fire and crush it under the stone, 178-179) and then goes to a nearby peak and searches for his lost men on the deep sea, however these efforts are in vain. Determined to not return to his people with no good tidings, he quickly goes about hunting a nearby herd of deer and “nec prius absistit, quam septem ingentia victor copora fundat humi, et numerum cum navibus aequet” (And he does not stay his hand till he stretches seven huge bodies victoriously on the ground, and equal in number to his ships. 192-193). Aeneas also donates his very own wine to raise the people’s spirits. He provides nourishment and comfort for his people after they have been greatly shaken by a terrible ordeal, which lends much credit to his leadership ability. By caring for his clan, he shows that he is very compassionate, a quality that Vergil displays as part of being a hero. When speaking to his comrades, he tries valiantly to keep their spirits up, and keep them from despair. He calls upon their heroic exploits of late and urges his men to banish their fears and sorrow. Aeneas says all of this with much optimism, even though in his heart he is mired in despair. He promises that “per varios casus, per tot discrimina rerum tendimus in Latium, sedes ubi fata quietas ostendunt.” (through varied fortunes, through countless hazards, we journey towards Latium, where fate promises a home of peace. 204-206). The promise that fate is guiding their journey is a heartening one indeed, for if one is destined to do something, then one takes comfort in the fact that he will conquer any adversity somehow and accomplish their task in the end. Aeneas once more exhorts them to “durate, et vosmet rebus servate secundis” (Endure, and live for a happier day, 207). In putting on a bold face for his men, Aeneas demonstrates once more, through his words this time, that he cares very much for the welfare of his people. He hides his own fear so that the others can take comfort in the security of having an able hero lead them onward.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

In lines 157-207, Virgil humanizes the heroic qualities of Aeneas. Aeneas is not presented as performing deeds larger than life, but rather performing deeds through selflessness ordinary men are incapable of achieving. These deeds help them physically and mentally.

First, Aeneas finds a safe harbor for their ships and then begins to care for the well-being of his men through preparing a sustentative meal for them “nec prius absistit, quam septem ingentia victor corpora fundat humi, et numerum cum navibus aequet,192-193” (he succeeded in stretching seven huge carcasses on the ground, one for each of the ships). Aeneas himself shot a total of ten deer for his men. This is of the utmost importance for the men “et sale tabentis artus in litore ponunt, 193”(threw their sea-wasted bodies on the sand) as soon as they disembarked from the ship whereas Aeneas had the forethought to provide them with dinner. Virgil deliberately shows that Aeneas is not magically procuring this meat from the gods, or using their divine powers to guide his arrows. Aeneas is using his own strength and ability to provide for his weary men.

Once the men are a little more relaxed by the food and wine, he does what all good roman citizens do when needing to get a point across and he makes a speech. He reminds his men that they have suffered worse than hurricanes such as “Scyllaeam rabiem, 200” (Scylla’s cave) and “Cyclopea, 201” (the Cyclops). That they “illic fas regna resurgere Troiae.
Durate, et vosmet rebus servate secundis, 206-207” (are fated to rebuild the city of Troy). Aeneas is showing his virtue in that he does not only care about what he is fated to do, but also in how his men will help him to accomplish the task of establishing the Roman race. Aeneas could be a dictatorial leader and order his men to get over this set back and immediately start pushing toward the next objective; analogous to Augustus in succeeding Caesar and remaining emperor, but rather Aeneas understands when and where compassion is necessary for the great good. Virgil intentional paints Aeneas as a leader who will care for his men to create an undertone which reveals how Virgil views leadership through selflessness and not through being a bully.

Vergil’s characteristic of Aeneas being a humanistic hero is made obvious through Aeneas’ hunting for his men and giving them a pep talk. A hero who could accomplish things on his own would not have taken the time to care for his men to the extent Aeneas has done in the Aeneid. This does not detract form Aeneas’ heroic status because the Roman is cultured from birth to be a social man and interact in society. Virgil’s twist on Aeneas as being a skilled orator and leader, which are Roman virtues, all fuel the fire which support the Aeneid in being the mythical founding of Rome which is why Aeneas is characterized as a being a hero through Roman and not Greek standards.

All translations from David West’s translation of the Aeneid