Analysis Of Vergil 's Aeneid As A National Epic

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If one is to read Vergil’s Aeneid as a national epic that supports and justifies the lineage of the new Imperial order, then one could also logically infer that the protagonist of the Aeneid, Aeneas, would be an embodiment of the ideal Roman leader. Indeed, Aeneas is constant in his patriotism, loyalty to his family and friends, and his extreme sense of duty to the greater good of his countrymen – in other words, Aeneas perfectly embodies the Roman idea of “pietas/duty”. Yet Aeneas is also an extremely dynamic character, beginning the tale with a strong moral conviction and, transformed by destiny, ending the epic with his blade hilt-deep in a mercilessly dispatched enemy. In presenting the decisions of Aeneas to flee Troy, abandon Dido, and kill Turnus, Vergil establishes Aeneas as a character that develops some qualities – like a sense of duty – early on, but that changes elements of his character to meet the demands of a new and ever-harsher quest for destiny. Aeneas’s first decision comes in his decision to leave Troy. With the city ablaze, Aeneas and his friends resist the Greeks to no avail, being pushed back into the rubble. As he is wandering around the ashes, Aeneas sees Helen, and thinks to himself “I will be praised […] exacting well-earned punishment, and I’ll delight in having filled my soul with the flame of revenge,” (2.584-587). Immediately, Venus comes to him in a vision in order quell this thought and to urge him to return home, telling him “You do not

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