The Aeneid

The Role of Guidance in The Aeneid, Confessions, and The Divine Comedy

Galileo Galilei once stated that “all truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them.” However, in order to understand and discover such truths, one needs the light of wisdom and the guidance of virtue. In Virgil’s Aeneid, Saint Augustine’s Confessions, and Dante’s Divine Comedy, all three protagonists are in need of guidance due to a lack of understanding on their respective journeys of discovery. Their guides, who are all figures whom they admire and respect, in turn possess such understanding and impart it unto the protagonists.

In The Aeneid of Virgil, the figure of guidance for the protagonist, Aeneas, is his father, Anchises, especially in the form of visions and shades after his death. Although Anchises dies during the journey from Troy to Italy, he continues in spirit to help his son fulfill fate’s decrees. In Book V, shortly after the death of Anchises, Aeneas dreams of his father, who tells him to “obey the excellent advice old Nautes gives” (958-959) to leave some Trojans – the elderly, the weak, and the women weary of sailing – in the care of Acestes, and “take [his] chosen young men, [his] bravest hearts, to Italy” (959-960). Anchises’ image also directs Aeneas to visit him in...

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