A comparison between Virgil's hero, Aeneas, and the Homeric heroes, Achilles and Odysseus, brings up the question concerning the relevance of the difference between the Homeric heroes and Aeneas. The differences in the poets' concerns are explained by the fact that Virgil lived many years after Homer, giving Virgil the advantage of a more developed literary and philosophical society than Homer had at his disposal. But the question remains: how are the differences between the Homeric heroes and Aeneas relevant to the epic at large? This question will be answered by first pointing out the differences between Greek and Roman society, then explaining how those differences relate to the heroes of the three epics at hand, and finally explaining how these differences allow Virgil to portray the Roman values and way of life as more structured and oriented towards a greater-good.
The differences in Greek and Roman societies arise primarily because of the different time periods in which they existed. But the geologic characteristics of Greece also played a role in the particularities of Greek society. The Greek peninsula is a mountainous region with neighboring islands that are known for their individualistic nature; in Homer's Odyssey islands are often occupied either by very few people or by people that are socially inept such as cannibals or the Cyclops. The Greek society, which was composed of various individual and independent city-states, followed from its geological surroundings since communication was such a difficult task. The few cultural aspects of life, such as language and religion, were the only things that gave...
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... between Aeneas and the Homeric heroes, given an account of the historical and mythological background of Rome and demonstrated that the Roman way of life is necessarily more structured and community oriented than the Homeric Greek way of life. Virgil wrote The Aeneid as an ode to the greatness of Rome, we could imagine that as he wrote it he was in constant competition with Homer because The Aeneid was a proclamation of greatness for the Romans as the Homeric epics were for the Greeks. But Virgil took advantage of the flaws that the Homeric Heroes had and gave the corresponding virtues to Aeneas thus ensuring Aeneas' superiority and consequently Rome's superiority.
Works Cited and Consulted:
Homer. The Odyssey. Trans. Robert Fagles. New York: 1996
Virgil. The Aeneid. Translated by Robert Fitzgerald. New York: Vintage Books, 1990.
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