Tying Homer's Iliad to Virgil's Aeneid Through the Theme of Warfare
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Warfare is a common thread that ties Homer's Iliad to Virgil's Aeneid. However, the way warfare is treated in the two epics is different. This can be attributed to many factors including the time between the composition of the pieces, the fact that pieces were written by different authors, and the fact that the pieces were written in different places. We can use these pieces to get a view of what the society that produced them thought about war and how the view of war changed as time went on in the ancient world.
The Iliad is a poem of war. The entire narrative takes place at or near a battlefield with men who had been fighting a seemingly never ending war for over nine years, and portrays many many battles great and small. At the beginning Homer invokes the muse by saying “begin, Muse, when the two first broke and clashed, Agamemnon lord of men and brilliant Achilles.”(Homer, Iliad 1.7-8) This is the first of many battles throughout the poem.
The conflict between Agamemnon and Achilles could be considered the most important even in the poem. It removes the Greeks' greatest hero from the battlefield for most of the poem. An interesting situation arises because of this. Achilles, the great hero, is refusing to fight. Glory on the battlefield is the measuring stick for any Greek man of high birth, and Achilles refusing to fight would be considered to be an act of shameful cowardice. However, there would be damage to Achilles' pride if he fought for Agamemnon. This conflict between pride and duty would be a difficult issue for a Greek man to resolve, as both were important in Greek society.
As mentioned before, glory on the battlefield is very important to Greek society. This is reflected in the Iliad. Combat is e...
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...umped the individual in Rome. A Greek soldier may have loyalty to his polis, but that was the only sustained state he had. There was no “Greece,” therefore outside of a few occasions, no centralized state to be loyal to. Even though the Iliad does portray a united Greek nation, the rift between Achilles and Agamemnon shows why they had trouble as a nation to unify. On the other hand the Aeneid shows that the father of the Romans, Aeneas, succeeded because he knew his duty. He did the things he did because he knew he would found a people that would eventually be the most powerful people on earth. It was not just the glory Aeneas won in battle in the poem that was important, but the glory of the people that would spring from him that was important. Personal glory is trumped by collective glory. That is the difference between the two people and the two poems.