Virgil The Art Of Imitating Homer Essay

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Virgil The Art Of Imitating Homer Essay, Research Paper Oprah, Uma. Uma, Oprah. 1 Homer, Virgil. Virgil, Homer. The Aeneid, the greatest Latin epic of the battles and wanderings of the Trojan hero, Aeneas, and his founding of the ruling line for the Roman Empire was written by the great Latin poet Virgil. Or so it seems. When one is reading the Aeneid and has also read both Homeric epics, one can almost instantly see many parallels between Homer and Virgil. Not only are there parallels in the actual style of writing, but the most prominent parallels come in the aspects of structure, events, and characterization. The Aeneid is, in actuality, … a structural and thematic reworking of both epics of Homer. 2 The Aeneid is clearly modeled in the beginning after the Odyssey while

in the end it is modeled after the Iliad. The happenings and actions of Aeneas are very similar to both those of Odysseus and later of Achilles. Many of the characters themselves are also modeled after Homer s characters. There are also many little details here and there which show that Virgil certainly modeled his epic after Homer, not to plagiarize, but for the style and the use of a model for human insight and feeling. When reading the Aeneid, one can clearly see and hear the Homeric echoes present in the epic. The Aeneid is clearly divided into two parts, The Odyssean Aeneid 3 and, The Iliadic Aeneid. 4 The first six books are based on the Odyssey while the last six books are based on the Iliad. To clearly see that Virgil was indeed basing his working on Homer, let us examine

the Homeric echoes that are present in the first half, or the Odyssean Aeneid. The first parallel that presents itself is the immediate situation of Aeneas and his ships. Just as Odysseus and his crew were lost after the end of the Trojan War, so too are Aeneas and his crew. Just like Odysseus was battered by a storm and almost killed after leaving Calypso s island5, so too are Aeneas ships being battered by a storm set on by Juno. The general situation is the clear parallel, however. Not only the storm, but the fact that Aeneas and his ships are wandering lost for many years and at the mercy of a vengeful god, and the fact that they will eventually land on a friendly shore just like Odysseus landed on the Phaeacian shore6, is almost an exact replica of Odysseus situation in the

Odyssey. When Aeneas arrives on Carthaginian soil, he, just like Odysseus did when he arrived in Phaeacia7, tells the story of how he arrived and under what circumstances8 both told in rousing flashbacks. Another similarity to the Odyssey are the contests and games. While in the land of the Phaeacians, Odysseus participates in the contests there9, while Aeneas holds similar contests to honor the death of his father Anchises10. Just as Aeneas leaves the land of the Carthaginians, Dido places a curse on him similar to the one Polyphemus places on Odysseus when she says, … I hope and pray that on some grinding reef/ Midway at sea you ll drink your punishment/ And call and call on Dido s name! 11 This leads to perhaps the most obvious parallel between the Odyssey and the Aeneid,

the visits to the underworlds12. Just like in the Odyssey where Odysseus receives advice on how he should proceed to get himself home, here too does Aeneas receive advice on how he should get to Italy and how he will have to fight a bloody war with the inhabitants there upon his arrival. Just as Odysseus meets the souls of people he knew, so too does Aeneas as he meets Dido, Palinurus, and his father Anchises. The fact that he does leave Carthage raises a very subtle echo between Homer and Virgil, the rejection of happiness or immediate luxury in exchange for the struggle for something much better. In the Odyssey, Odysseus rejects happiness and luxury with Nausicaa, Circe, and Calypso to struggle and perhaps even die to return home to his own wife. So too does Aeneas reject