Was Aeneas Really a Hero?

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Was Aeneas Really a Hero?

Post by Admin on Mon Apr 06, 2015 5:18 pm

Was Aeneas a true hero, or simply a ruthless warrior who happened to stumble upon Italy? Does he deserve an epic poem and an entire cult? Were his decisions that of a hero, or someone blindly following the plans of the gods without any free will?
This forum serves as a place for you to state your case and argue for or against Aeneas as a hero. Be sure to cite specific examples from the text and fully explain your reasoning. There is no right answer.

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Yes

Post by Admin on Mon Apr 06, 2015 5:18 pm

To the Romans, the most important quality was pietas which means duty to your 1) gods 2) country and 3) family. Aeneas had pietas and followed it to a tee. Before all else, Aeneas always listened to the gods and did what they told him to, like in book 4 when Mercury told Aeneas to leave Dido. Aeneas didn’t want to, but he did it anyway to obey the will of the gods. Also, throughout the epic Aeneas’ goal and #1 concern was to find a new home, a new patria for his people. Finally, when Aeneas left Troy in book 2, he made sure to get his father and son out safe.

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Not really

Post by Admin on Mon Apr 06, 2015 5:19 pm

First of all, Aeneas has no free will. Every time he tries to do something for himself the gods tell him no, and he just follows them blindly. Like when Aeneas married Dido and took control in Carthage, the gods told him to leave and so he did, despite his love of Dido. Secondly, when Aeneas was leaving Troy in book 2, he forgot about his mom and let her die. Sure, Aeneas might have had pietas, but that was it. He made one bad decision after another in the name of this quest.

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No!

Post by Admin on Mon Apr 06, 2015 5:20 pm

I agree with Kyle that Aeneas was not a hero. I define a hero as someone who puts the well-being of others before that of himself. To an extent Aeneas does this, as he is searching for a new home for his people who were exiled from Troy after having lost the war. However, in the case of the women in his life like Dido and his mother, he seemed to be completely indifferent. For instance, Aeneas in book 2 was more worried about saving his son and father than he was for his mother. When he thought he had enough time to go back and get her, all he found was her ghost. He acted sad, but he’s the one who left her in the first place. Moreover, when it came to Dido Aeneas made all sorts of mistakes. First of all was even agreeing to marry her in the first place despite the fact that he knew he would have to leave to go to Italy. Worse than that, though, is that after a year when Mercury came to tell him to leave, Aeneas did not try to comfort Dido, but simply tried to sneak away in the night. Aeneas is 100% the reason why Dido killed herself.

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Yes, but with some flaws.

Post by Admin on Mon Apr 06, 2015 5:20 pm

I agree with Andrew. Yeah, Aeneas seems to have made some bad decisions, at least from our perspective. But, if you’re reading this epic as a Roman, everything makes a lot more sense and Aeneas becomes much more heroic. For instance, the whole point of Aeneas’ journey was to found ROME! To any Roman, the fact that Aeneas did whatever he could to reach this goal would have been appreciated. It’s like saying that George Washington wasn’t a hero because he was mean to the English. No American would hold that against him since he helped to liberate our country. Similarly, no Roman would hate Aeneas simply because some barbarian queen fell in love with him and decided to kill herself when the gods told him to go and follow his destiny. To refute Kyle’s claim about Aeneas having free will, I’d like to point out the fact that the ancient Romans didn’t believe in free will. As far as they were concerned, the gods had a plan for everyone. Destinies were already set, Jupiter always knew that Caesar would march on Rome and that Augustus would start an empire. To the Romans, free will was never a consideration. This mentality even goes back into the Iliad and the Odyssey, both of which are completely god-driven stories.

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