300 words discussion
responds to one of the topic below
1. Virgil’s Aeneid (written in Latin in the 1st century B.C.E.) is obviously deeply indebted to Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey (written in Greek in the 8th century B.C.E.), not simply in terms of substance and style but even in terms of the characters. Find one place in the text of the Aeneid that reminds you of a comparable place in Homer’s Iliad (the opening stanzas, or “Invocation” of each poem, for example) – either in terms of plotting or style, and comment on the similarities and differences between the texts. Be sure to use a brief quotation (or a few) from one or both texts to help your fellow students identify the points you’re making.
2. The propagandistic purpose of Virgil’s Aeneid – to explain, justify, celebrate, glorify, historicize, and mythologize the founding of Rome and the Roman Empire – crops up throughout the poem, from Aeneas’s prophetic dream on the night of the destruction of Troy, to the reminders he gets in visions and visitations from various gods, to the history of the future depicted on the shield created by Vulcan. Find one or more of these places and comment on how you think Virgil uses the epic format to define Roman culture. Virgil seems to suggest, in some places, that Rome is the new Troy, that Roman culture is Trojan culture, that, in the words of Aeneas, in “Latium … Fate holds out/ a homeland … [and] the kingdom of Troy will rise again” (Book I, lines 240-242), but then at the end, he seems to suggest otherwise, that “Troy has fallen–and fallen let her stay–/ with the very name of Troy!” (Book XII, lines 960-961). How is Virgil defining Rome by its mythological past? What values does Virgil seem to emphasize as Trojan or Roman? How does this contrast with other cultures and values depicted in the book, for example, the culture of the Greeks, the Carthaginians, or the Rutulians?
3. In our selection from the Aeneid, we get to read extended stories about Aeneas’s relationship with Dido, about the fall of Troy and the end of the Trojan war, and about Aeneas’s defeat of Turnus (along with his goddess sister Juturna) and the Latins. Pick one of these episodes and identify what you think is the main theme of the story and what Virgil says on that theme. Again, use quotation(s) to support your comments.
4. Using the Aeneid as our primary evidence, the religious views of the Romans would seem to be extremely deterministic, i.e. that the gods determine the fates of the mortals and that no effort on our part can change the will of the gods. The ongoing conflict between Juno and Venus (often with interventions from other gods and goddesses, espeicially Jove/Jupiter, the “Father” god whose will decides the fates of mortals and whose will is expressly referenced in both the Iliad and the Aeneid), is in many ways the central subplot of the Aeneid, with the human characters simply fulfilling, in elaborate ways, a series of events moving inexorably toward a preordained outcome. How is the conflict between the gods represented in the Aeneid? Why is it important? How does it relate to the humanity of the mortal characters depicted, and what value, if any, does it add to the poem? Is the action of the gods exactly the same in Virgil’s poem as it was in Homer’s, or do the gods behave and interact with the mortal world differently? In short, what is the meaning of the gods in the Aeneid and is that meaning different in any discernible way from what we find in the Iliad?
5. Discuss the shield of Aeneas. What is the main message Virgil means to convey with the extended description of the shield in Book VIII? How does this message differ from the shield of Achilles in the Iliad? Why do you think Virgil chooses to echo so exactly this sequence from the Iliad? Virgil clearly wants his readers to compare (and perhaps to contrast) the shield of Aeneas (and his poetic rendition of it and the plot surrounding its creation) with the shield of Achilles. Why? Again, don’t forget to use quotations in your response!