Odysseus & Aeneas

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Odysseus & Aeneas If there is any possibility that a comparison could be made with the famous journeys of Odysseus and Aeneas, it must be known that Aeneas is actually a hero in search of his own soul while Odysseus is a hero trying to find his old life and in a sense, his old soul. The Aeneid is very much of a spiritual quest, which makes it unique in ancient literature and in contrast with the Odyssey. Only Virgil admits to the possibility that a character can change, grow, and develop. In the story’s earlier stages, the character of Aeneas is obviously unsure of himself, always seeking instructions from his father or from the gods before committing himself to any course of action. In the underworld he sees a perspective of the future history of Rome down to the time of Augustus, and that vision gives him the self-confidence to act on his own initiative. Comparatively, Odysseus is driven though his journey beginning with apparent self-confidence and continuing with a vengeful vigor. While reviewing the myth’s fantastic journey, I wondered if Aeneas was great because his fate made him great or was he great because he had the courage and determination to live up to the role fate handed him? There is a side to Aeneas, I noticed that is not very impressive, even when I could almost understand why he feels the way he does. He is sad, tired, always waiting for his father or the gods to tell him what to do. But Aeneas always fulfills his duty to his family, to his country, and to the gods, even when he is depressed. He is never selfish. He always puts his responsibility to others first. In that way, his actions throughout his journey to the underworld were somewhat different that Odysseus’. In Aeneas’ case, he too was as great of a survivor as Odysseus. In fact, he at least matches him in the way that he is one of those people who can lose everything and still start all over again. Aeneas goes from being a victim of the Greeks at Troy to becoming a conqueror in Italy. Virgil’s Aeneas is the first character in Western literature who actually changes and develops. His struggles help him discover who he is and what he thinks is important. If I had to name one quality that defines Aeneas throughout his journey, it is his devotion to duty, a quality that the Romans called pietas or piety.
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