The Aeneid

Artwork and Creation in the Aeneid

How can art and warfare be reconciled? It would appear that art would have no place on the battlefield, where men are too concerned with survival and personal glory to indulge in aesthetic appreciation. The combination of art and Aeneas’ shield in the Aeneid however literally represents the divine aegis that not only Aeneas enjoys, but that Rome will as well. Aeneas’ shield moves the concept of the future from the abstract and unperceivable realm of the divine into the physical world, illustrating how art is the embodiment of the divine on earth. The combination of the divine and mortal in the artwork in the Aeneid suggests an element of creation that parallels Virgil’s own creation of the epic.

The shield which Aeneas receives is one of divine origin, forged by Vulcan. Interestingly however, Virgil emphasizes the link between the divine and mortal world through his placement of Vulcan’s workshop “near the coast of Sicily..all of rock and smoking”(8.569). Whereas Gods are typically removed from the mortal realm, Vulcan is placed in a conspicuously earthy setting. Further reflecting the melding of divine and mortal are the materials which are used in his craftsmanship. Aeneas’ armor consists not only of the raw, primeval...

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