The Aeneid - a Criticism of Rome’s Founding through a Pyrrhic Victory
The Aeneid, Virgil’s well-known myth about the events leading up to the founding of Rome, curiously seems to contain two distinct voices. While Virgil’s friendship with Augustus (one of Rome’s great emperors) and the historical period may have forced him to write in a politically correct voice, he made sure to incorporate a more private voice that runs contrary to the majority of the text on a literal level. The Aeneid is often praised for its glorification of the Roman Empire because of its suggestion that the city was destined by the gods to be powerful and magnificent. However, upon closer examination of the text, it appears that Virgil may have favored the view of the Roman Empire as a Pyrrhic victory- not worth the high cost that its existence required.
Throughout the work, subtleties in Virgil’s diction lend clarity to his critical voice. For example, slight expressions of doubt are often worked into the dialogue. When King Latinus welcomes the Trojans to his kingdom in Book VII, he tells them that he is familiar with their destiny to found a majestic city, yet ends his declaration by stating, “Your king’s the man called for by fate, so I conclude, and so I wish, if there is truth in what I presage” (Virgil 7.368-370)....
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