The New Hero Of Aeneas Essay Research — страница 2

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foot,” his Agamemnon “king of men,” and his Odysseus “of many wiles,” Vergilius was bound by no such obligations. He could find his characters where he chose and shape them to suit his own purpose. His Aeneas owes something to Homeric precedent in being a great warrior and a devout servant of the gods, but he has taken on a new personality and is the legitimate child of Vergilius’ brooding meditation and imaginative vision. The persons of the Aeneid are created and fashioned for a special purpose. They contribute to the main design, and everything that they say or do may be considered in the light of Rome’s destiny. For this very reason, we will be wrong to treat them as if they were dramatic characters of Homer. They are more, and they are less. They are more,

because they stand for something outside themselves, for something typically and essentially Roman; they are types, examples, symbols. Moreover, they are less, because any typical character will lack the lineaments and idiosyncracities, the personal appeal and the intimate claims, of a character that is created for his sake and for the poet’s pleasure in him. Furthermore, because Aeneas is typical of Rome, the events through which he passes are equally so. He represents what may happen to any Roman. He behaves as a Roman would in conditions familiar to Roman experience. Therefore, though the action takes place in a historical past, it transcends history in a way that the Trojan War does not for Homer. The Aeneid special claim is that it typifies a class of actions and

situations in which great questions are raised and great issues are at stake. That is partly why Vergilius tells a story less well than Homer. His task prevents him from really enjoying a tale for its own sake. Beyond the actual events there is always something else, a problem or a principle that what occurs has some other claim than its immediate interest. There is another aspect that differentiates the Aeneid from the poetry of Homer. It is the aspect of peace, a peace developed through order, which we seldom see in Homer. He, however, emulated Homer’s epics to argue this new idea. Vergilius’ first obstacle in writing a heroic poem was his enormous admiration of Homer which prompted him to feel that many of his effect should be Homeric. It was a formidable task.

Nonetheless, he persevered and often competed with Homer in his own ground; it is in such passages that he is most open to criticism, for he had little of Homer’s understanding of the fury and frenzy of war. But he had to make Aeneas a great warrior in order to achieve his purpose. He laboriously and conscientiously tries to recreate in his own sensitive and melodious language what Homer had done so naturally and so brilliantly. He tries his utmost to make his battles interesting by varying them with the usage of contemporary devices of warfare such as cavalry, siege engines and battering rams. But these are not enough, and over his battles, there hangs a sense of effort. The slayings of men in Homer have their own vitality and certainly much more poetry than a passage like of

Vergilius: “Caedicus now cut down Alcathous, Sacrator Hydaspes, and Rapo Parthenius and also Orses, a warrior of the toughest strength. Messapus killed Clonius and the son of Lycaon, Erichaetes” (X, 747-49). The faint ghostly figures behind the resounding names have no part in the story; their fates are without pathos or interest. This passage bears no relation to experience and is purely literary. Vergilius wrote it, because he felt the poem demanded it. Moreover, even when he is more successful than here, his meditative, highly educated self seems to impose barriers between the Homeric original and his attempt to reproduce it in new circumstances. To illustrate, Homer tells the fatal pursuit of Hector by Achilles impeccably by relating that they did not run for a

sacrificial ox or a tripod such as are given for prizes in foot races, “No, they ran for the life of Hektor, breaker of horses”(Iliad XXII, 161). This point is true and magnificently made. It comes straight out of the old heroic world where the qualities needed for athletic prowess are needed also for war, and all that differs between the two kinds of race is the sake for which is run. Vergilius tries to emulate this effect when Aeneas Pursues Turnus: “For in very truth they strove to gain no trivial prize in sport, but it was for the life-blood of Turnus that they vied” (XII, 764-65). The Latin eloquence makes its point clearly enough, but it hardly arouses our pity and horror as Homer’s direct approach does. The imagery of the race is so true for Homer and is somehow