Comparing the Aeneid and the Odyssey Essay example

Comparing the Aeneid and the Odyssey Essay example

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Both the Odyssey and the Aeneid represent their cultures very well, but they express different ideas on what one should strive for in life.  There are also different forces that pushed both epics to be written.  The Aeneid expresses the Roman idea of pietas which means to show extreme respect for one’s ancestors. We see this in Aeneas when he is pictured caring his father away from burning Troy.  He has pietas because he cared so much for his father that in fleeing from Troy he took up his father over his shoulder to save his from certain death.  This is not the only major idea in the Aeneid.  There is also a very political focus.  The Roman were very interested in politics which comes through in the Aeneid. The Odyssey has the Greek idea of arete trapped somewhere among the many themes.  Arete is a strive for perfection in both mind and body.  It is a much more personal and individual idea than the Roman pietas. In the most basic seance the Aeneid and the Romans have a much more political focus and duty to the state ( republic ) than the Greeks who honor tradition , family , and arete.

     Vergil shows the duty to Rome  with the love between Dido and Aeneas.  Venus ordered Cupid to shoot Dido with one of his magic arrows so that she would fall in love with Aeneas.  This was very unfair to Dido because Aeneas had to go on and found Rome.  After Cupid hit Dido with an arrow she does fall madly and deeply in love with Aeneas but a problem develops : Aeneas starts to fall in love with Dido. This can not happen because he has such a bright and definite future and Dido just does not fit into it. He eventually has to leave her and fulfill his destiny. This is a good place to see how strong the duty to Rome is.  It is expecte...

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...lot to be desired. The Roman individual interest and desire to be great takes a little away from the story. In fact it may have been one of the reasons for their down fall. I like the Greeks view a little better. Homer wasn’t writing this for himself or for anyone else. He wanted to do it for the people. He wanted to show people what was valuable about tradition and how in looking at tradition important values were demonstrated. This paper has lead me to believe this and might do so to others. I can see where both ideas have their place, but one makes for a better story , and the other makes for a valuable historical tool.
Works Cited

Gransden, Karl W. Virgil: The Aeneid. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1990.
 Homer. The Odyssey. Trans. Robert Fagles. New York: Viking, 1996. Print

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