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Virgil's Aeneid - Is Aeneas Really a Hero?

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Virgil's Aeneid - Is Aeneas Really a Hero?

Thesis: Despite his accomplishments and the glory associated with his life, Aeneas only achieves the status of hero through divine intervention, and this god-given position causes him just as much grief as it does splendor.

What is a hero? We would like to think that a hero is someone who has achieved some fantastic goal or status, or maybe someone who has accomplished a great task. Heroes find themselves in situations of great pressure and act with nobility and grace. Though the main character of Virgil's Aeneid, Aeneas, is such a person, it is not by his own doing. He encounters situations in which death is near, in which love, hate, peace, and war come together to cause both good and evil. In these positions he conducts himself with honor, by going along with what the gods want. Only then goes on to pave the way for the Roman Empire. His deeds, actions, and leadership would never have come to be if it were not for the gods. The gods took special interest in Aeneas, causing him misfortune in some cases, giving him assistance in others. On the whole, the gods constantly provide perfect opportunities for Aeneas to display his heroism. Without them, Aeneas would not be the hero he is. This gift does not come without a price, though; he must endure the things heroes endure to become what they are. Despite his accomplishments and the glory associated with his life, Aeneas only achieves the status of hero through divine intervention, and this god-given position causes him just as much grief as it does splendor.

Aeneas is the son of Venus. This fact alone brings about much of the hero in him. Venus, a concerned mother, always looks out for her son. She does everything she thinks will help to ensure his safety and success. At the beginning of his journey from Troy, she prevents his death at sea. Juno has persuaded King Aeolus to cause vicious storms, rocking Aeneas' fleet and nearly killing all of them. Venus then goes to Jupiter and begs him to help Aeneas: Venus appealed to him, all pale and wan, With tears in her shining eyes:

"My lord who rule The lives of men and gods now and forever, And bring them all to heel with your bright bolt, What in the world could my Aeneas do, What could the Trojans do, to so offend you?
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