Aeneas : A Human Man With The Weight Of The World On His Life Essay

Aeneas : A Human Man With The Weight Of The World On His Life Essay

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One of the more important values that Aeneas embodies is pietas. Pietas is a nigh-untranslatable word that means great devotion and piety, the two words Lombardo uses most in his translation of the Aeneid to indicate this value. Randall Ganiban, in his introduction to the Aeneid states that “Aeneas is placed in such a difficult position because of his pietas – his duty towards his family, state, and the gods (Ganiban, p.15).” Aeneas struggles to balance his sense of duty towards all three and that fact that despite his immortal parentage, he is simply a human man with the weight of the world on his shoulders. He is a human man with an almost supernatural sense of duty, which is why it is very strange that he finds some of his strongest opposition in the form of the divine. Juno, queen of the gods, violently opposes Aeneas’ quest for Rome. This is marked as strange by Vergil. “That she forced a man of faultless devotion / To endure so much hardship (Aen. 1.14-15, Lombardo).” Aeneas is known throughout the land for his pietas. He proves over and over that he is willing to go as far as possible for whatever or whomever he truly devotes himself to. In the Dido episode, an episode that reveal the depths of nearly all of Aeneas’ virtues, he places the calling of the gods above the calling of his heart. “And although great love has shaken his soul, / He obeys the gods’ will and returns to the fleet (A, 4.458-9, L.).” He does so at a dire cost; Dido kills herself not long after Aeneas leaves from Carthaginian shores. Unfortunately Dido was forced to the bottom of Aeneas’ emotional hierarchy, as he leaves her for his prior, long-standing devotions. One of those devotions is his father, Anchises, who notes his son’s pietas aft...

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...y and comfort of a wife and her ready-made kingdom, but he readily leaves all of that behind for his son. Above all else, Aeneas wants Ascanius to live and succeed.
Ascanius, however, is not the only one of Aeneas’ descendants that the poem mentions. There are many references to later Rome and the glory of its citizens and leaders. “Aeneas was moved / To wonder and joy by the images of things / He could not fathom, and he lifted to his shoulder / The destiny of his children’s children (A. 8.841-4, L.).” The beauty of Rome and legacy he creates astounds Aeneas. Despite the perils and the setbacks on his journey, he pushes through to reach his end and find the home he and his people deserve. “’That the great land of Italy is my journey’s end. / There is my love, my country (A. 4.396-7, L.).’” By the end of the novel, Aeneas truly accepts who he is: a Roman.

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