The Iliad and The Odyssey vs Aeneid: Compare & Contrast

The Iliad and The Odyssey vs Aeneid: Compare & Contrast
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Homer’s “The Iliad and The Odyssey” and Virgil’s “Aeneid” are the pinnacles of early Roman literature. Depicting the lives of the Romans and magnifying the relationship existing between them and the gods, the three epic poems tell about how humans are defined when it comes to their principles and strengths amidst adversities. Aeneid’s hero, Aeneas, is the less discussed among the roman epic heroes. At times, he is considered a less hero of the Roman literature; however, his virtues exude among others. Virgil defined a true roman citizen, a citizen of virtue wherein he follows three main obligations: to be loyal to his duties, to be loyal to the roman race, and to be loyal to the gods. Aeneas was all of these, thus making him more human than the other Homeric heroes. He is dubbed as “Man of Destiny” as he disregards his personal happiness in order to pursue the destiny the gods have arranged for him. For example, he threw his love affair with Dido even though it promised him luxury and stability. This makes him favorable for the gods. This essay contends that Aeneas is all-human and his acts are humane, although he does have inadequacies, it does not make him less of a hero.

 The Voice of Virgil

 According to Steenkamp, Homer and Virgil differ in the way they mold their characters. Homer’s heroes were generally seeking “personal glory,” while Virgil’s on the other hand are more sympathetic and humane. He added that although Virgil “thinks highly” of Homer’s epic, “he displays how these ideals have long been outdated and can no longer be a code to his fellow Romans” (1). In Book II of the fall of Troy, Aeneas was portrayed as an obedient follower of the gods. He would want to fight back against the Greeks however, he chose to leave with his son, wife, and father and the household gods, as what Hector told him in his dream. He would have chosen to fight back to prove that he is worthy of a true warrior; however, he did not mind his pride and followed what the gods have told him and for the sake of his family.

Who’s the Better Hero?

Greeks and Romans were fierce warriors; although the purpose of their battle may be different. Odysseus, Achilles, and Aeneas are among those literary characters which closely portray the lives of Greeks and Romans. Odysseus and Achilles fought for their glory, and for personal pride. Aeneas on the other hand fought for his state (Montgomery). The answer to the question of who is the better hero lies in one’s personal attributes. One hero is not better or less than the other since they fight for different reasons and all of them fought willingly. Although one could say Aeneas is the better hero or the less, he fought for his own reason and the glory of the Roman Empire. Achilles and Odysseus fought in a Greek’s point of view, which made them equal as they “represent the qualities of their own culture.”

Works Cited:

Montgomery, Jane. “Comparisons: Aeneas and Achilles.” Helium. Helium, n.d. Web. 18 Nov. 2010. <http://www.helium.com/items/983542-comparisons-aeneas-and-achilles>.

Steenkamp, Roelien. “Analysis of Virgil’s Aeneid.” Helium. Helium, n.d. Web. 18 Nov. 2010. <http://www.helium.com/items/1782922-virgils-attitude-to-his-characters>.