Aeneid Vs Odyssey Essay Research Paper Both

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Aeneid Vs. Odyssey Essay, Research Paper Both the Odyssey and the Aeneid share some similarities as epics; both describe the trials of a heroic figure who is the ideal representative of a particular culture. There are even individual scenes in the Aeneid are borrowed from the Odyssey. Yet, why are Odysseus and Aeneas so unlike one another? The answer is that the authors lived in two different worlds, whose values and perceptions varied greatly of a fundamental level. To illustrate, two common ideas woven into the Odyssey are custom and recklessness. Customs were handed down by the gods, and were meant to keep men safe by giving them civilization. When men were reckless (when they flaunted custom and the gods), they invited retribution and chaos by placing themselves outside

the ordained scope of humanity. Moreover, if the customs are followed and proper respect given the gods, it is possible for man to live in harmony indefinitely. In contrast, the Aeneid propounds upon furor and civitas. Furor is the discord that lies at the heart of each person which engenders violence, and this furor must be restrained in order for civilization to work. This gives rise to the idea of civitas, the overwhelming devotion to the state above selfish personal desire; this is the only way man can chain furor on a large scale. Moreover, it is always possible for furor to surface; even after years of sacrifice and constant vigilance, peace is never guaranteed. These differences in ethos are most easily seen when Virgil borrows a scene and transforms it to his own ends.

For example, Virgil adopts the episode where Odysseus washes up on the shore of Skheria and meets the Phaiakians and uses it to form the core of Aeneid I and II. In the Odyssey, the episode begins with Odysseus on his makeshift raft, heading home after all his trials. His eventual passage home has been agreed upon by Zeus, “whose will is not subject to error.”1 However, in the past Odysseus wounded Polyphemos and in reckless abandon questioned the power of the gods; while he was fleeing from the Cyclops he yelled “If I could take your life I would and take your time away, and hurl you down to hell! The god of earthquake could not heal you there!”2 For this affront, Poseidon decided to make Odysseus’ journey home a long and difficult one. The god of the sea sends a storm

his way but Odysseus survives with the nereid Ino’s gift and guidance. After Poseidon departs, he finally reaches Skheria’s shore with Athena’s help. The opening scenes in the Aeneid corresponds to Homer’s sequence. Aeneas and the Trojans are on their ships, heading to found a new city after many travails. The eventual founding of the city has been agreed upon by Jupiter, and thus the Trojan’s “[d]estiny is unaltered”3 regardless of what calamity befalls them. However, Juno is worried that the Trojans’ descendants will eventually surpass the Greeks, “root up her Libyan empire”4, and “enslave the children of Agamemnon”5; so she convinces Aeolus to release to some winds to destroy them now. The winds are so fierce that they need a “heap of mountains [laid]

upon them” and even then “[b]ehind the bars they bellow, mightily fretting: the mountain is one immense murmur.”6 Aeolus releases them by pushing his spear at the flank of the mountain, and “in a solid mass, [they] hurl themselves through the gates” and they nearly devastate the Trojans. Neptune quiets the winds and the seas, and then rides away. Odysseus and the Trojans have much in common. Both are plagued by gods (the former by Poseidon and the latter by Juno). Despite their troubles, both are also guaranteed eventual success, for their accomplishments have been ordained by the supreme God, and this cannot be denied. However, the distinction between the source of their difficulties is an important one. Odysseus willingly invited disaster by flaunting the power of the