Virgil’s Vision of the Underworld and Reincarnation in Book VI of the Aeneid

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Virgil’s Vision of the Underworld and Reincarnation in Book VI of the Aeneid “Virgil paints his sad prophetic picture of the Underworld in shadowy halftones fraught with tears and pathos. His sources are eclectic, but his poetic vision is personal and unique” (Lenardon, 312). Despite countless writings regarding the region of the Underworld, such as Homer’s Odyssey and Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Virgil bases his book upon traditional elements accompanied with his own vision of the Underworld and reincarnation. In doing so, Virgil’s book VI of the Aeneid serves as an exploration of Virgil’s concept of the Underworld and religious beliefs, one in which the hybrid of the traditional and the personal, create a more poetic vision than…show more content…
In doing so, he allows gives his contemporary Roman audience a comforting and familiar setting while also establishing an original tone to his book of the dead. The audience, while being exposed to new ideas not previously introduced to them while finding solace in the traditional and familiar elements Virgil blends with the new. In addition, Virgil’s use of the traditional solidifies his later ambiguous portrayal of Aeneas’s exit as just another quirk of Virgil’s personal vision, thereby affecting the overall Aeneid entirely following Aeneas’s meeting with Anchises. Once he meets his father, Aeneas is exposed to a philosophical discussion about reincarnation in which “details supplement the religious philosophy of Plato, which has been labeled Orphic and Pythagorean in particular mystic in general. Man’s body is of earth—evil and mortal; the soul is of the divine upper aether—pure and immortal” (Lenardon, 324). As Anchises lays out this division between the body and the soul, one cannot help connect it with Christian thoughts on the afterlife: that the body is left behind as the soul ascends to the ethereal. Virgil’s own beliefs within this passage of the Aeneid speak strongly for this notion; despite it’s writing before Christ’s birth. Aeneas says: “Must we imagine, Father, there are souls that go from here aloft to

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