A critical analysis of Virgil’s epic poem The Aeneid, often described as the poet’s response to Homer’s epics The Iliad, and The Odyssey in that it details the Trojan War and its aftermath from the Roman perspective.
The following paper discusses the problems with a literary analysis of The Aeneid as it presents itself with some problems not present in a similar analysis of Homer’s inspiring works. Although the actual status of Homer as either a poet or a collective name of several poets is uncertain, Homer’s works formed the basis of virtually all of Greek classical literature. The writer contends that The Iliad and The Odyssey became the cornerstones of Greek culture, something all Greeks could refer to as a common source of moral values, of rhetoric, and of mythological history. However, this paper claims that as the work of a single individual at a fixed and relatively later point in time and culture, The Aeneid does not have a similar quality of assembled stories, but of a work of more clear design than its Greek predecessors do.
Throughout the text, Virgil not only details the destiny, but also enters into the persona and voice of Dido, of the Latins whom Aeneas defeats, as well as the gods who both support and oppose Aeneas’ destiny. By giving life to such competing voices of the truth, it is difficult to view the text simply as an idealized version of Roman history. Rather the Aeneid, like its protagonist, tells a complicated history of origins. Although the Emperor Augustus may trace his own origins to the fate of Aeneas, the victory of the central character does not come without great costs to others. Virgil obliquely, by allowing other voices to speak and to die over the course of the poem, shows that the founding of any regime of power, like its destruction, is never seamless, and never without some bloodshed and heartache on both sides.