How may the demands of empire in Virgil's Aeneid be seen to modify the characteristics of Homeric epic?
The characteristics of Homeric epic are many and varied, but the key elements of the Odyssey and the Iliad can be narrowed down to two main things: a focus on one hero (Achilles and Odysseus, respectively) and the need for that hero to attain kleos, and in the case of Odysseus, nostos. Virgil's epic draws on Homer's epics, but because Virgil's motives and aims are very different, the characteristics of his epic are naturally different, too. The hero of Virgil's epic, Aeneas, shares some characteristics with Homeric heroes but is notably different in that he does not want to achieve kleos. Many of the qualities that characterize Homeric heroes are presented as bad in the Aeneid. These differences can almost all be attributed to the fact that empire plays a large part in Virgil's epic. It does so because Virgil is writing a "history" of the Roman people from the time of Troy until the Pax Augustus in order to flatter the emperor Augustus. Also, because Aeneas's fate is to found the city of Rome and begin the Roman lineage, this directs everything that he does in a way that is not found in Homer's epics.
There is an element of fate in both Homer's and Virgil's epics, but it does not...
Join Now to View Premium Content
GradeSaver provides access to 810 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 5991 literature essays, 1692 sample college application essays, 237 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.
Already a member? Log in