• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Compare and contrast the portrayal of the Gods in Virgil's Aeneid and Ovid's metamorphoses.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

SONJA CHEUNG COMPARE AND CONTRAST THE PORTRAYAL OF THE GODS IN VIRGIL'S AENEID AND OVID'S METAMORPHOSES. There is a significant difference in the treatment of the gods in the Aeneid and the Metamorphoses, even though both authors were writing in the epic tradition. Virgil wrote his Aeneid in the last ten years of his life, between 29BC and 19BC, after the Battle of Actium, in 31BC, which was significant, as it established Octavian as the sole emperor, Augustus, of Rome. The Aeneid is a celebration of Augustus' achievements and rejoices in the development of Rome. There is a great sense of political propaganda, as well as an historical element, as it illustrates the origins of the Roman people. In contrast, Ovid conceived a different purpose for his epic. He wrote fifteen books, compared to Virgil's twelve, with many of his stories originating from Greek and Roman myth, concerned with the transformations of shapes, from the creation of the world to Julius Caesar's death and deification. He focuses on entertaining the reader in a humorous fashion, and rather than establishing Rome's origins in history, he is more concerned with establishing his own fame, for the future ages. These different backgrounds of the two authors illustrate that they each had contrasting agendas for their books. Thus, the portrayal of the gods differs greatly-Virgil's are austere and purposeful, whereas, Ovid's are humorous, reflecting his neoteric style, and intentionally different from the Virgilian gods. ...read more.

Middle

That is, the gods do not always stay in Olympos, but they frequent the earth, for example, Venus is depicted, lying on Adonis' chest, on the grass and shaded by a poplar tree.10 There is an intimacy between the mortals and the immortals, as there is informality between the two realms. However, in the Aeneid, the gods are portrayed as being more aloof, as they generally stay in heaven and socialise with their own. For example, Juno and Venus plot the marriage of Dido and Aeneas together, from heaven. The gods make decisions and view mortal actions from the comfort of heaven, which illustrates the strong divide between the gods and mortals. This also portrays them in a more formal light, as they remain mysterious and awesome. Furthermore, it can be noted that the gods, in the Aeneid, rarely appear to the mortal characters. For example, Venus disguises herself as a huntress, when she approaches Aeneas, to tell him that he is in Carthage, and only afterwards does he realise that she is his mother: 'You! Cruel too! Why tease your son so often with disguises?'11 In comparison, the Ovidian gods generally appear as themselves, illustrated by the examples of Apollo, Mercury and Venus, which highlights the informality surrounding the gods. However, if they do not appear in their human forms, they are then presented in animal forms. For example, Jupiter is depicted as a bull, firstly, to Io and then to Europa, in order to rape them. ...read more.

Conclusion

This is highlighted in the reconciliation scene, when Jupiter reiterates that she is his sister and his consort, which establishes the importance of her role; as well as yielding to her desires, that the new race founded by Aeneas, will not bear the Trojan name and language. Once she has fulfilled the role of satisfying her divine pride, she leaves fate to run its course: 'To all this Juno nodded in assent and, gladdened by his promise, changed her mind. Then she withdrew from sky and cloud.'18 In conclusion, we can note that both the Virgilian and Ovidian gods have similar attributes-they are immoral, callous towards humans and they live within their divine rules, without consideration for the consequences of their actions. However Virgil and Ovid portray these aspects differently. Firstly, Virgil dismisses the gods' negative aspects and focuses on their awesome, powerful and Homeric features. This serious portrait of the gods would have reflected positively on Augustus and his growing empire, as he frequently linked himself with the gods. Moreover, the role of the Virgilian gods was to establish the history of Rome, therefore Virgil had to portray them in a respectable light. On the other hand, Ovid focuses on the humorous side of the gods, and emphasises their worst traits. Ovid's purpose for his epic was to entertain the reader, therefore he portrayed his gods less seriously. It is also significant that he has intentionally broken away from the stereotypical austere images of the gods, and has set his gods at the opposite end of the scale to the Virgilian gods. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Classics section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Classics essays

  1. Peer reviewed

    To what extent are the characters in Ovid metamorphes real and not stereotypical

    4 star(s)

    There are stereotypical elements to his writings, which include to some extent, Scylla and Icarus the typical children. This refers to Icarus more so than Scylla as he fulfills a conventional immature boy disregarding any advise administered to him whereas Scylla in a few aspects represents your mainstream hormonal adolescent girl.

  2. Free essay

    In which of the two epics are the female characters more carefully described and ...

    her obsessive love for Aeneas; as he recounts the harrowing account of his journey, Dido becomes smitten with him but her entire capacity in the poem is relegated to a passing love interest of Aeneas. Before Aeneas turned up, she was known as the widow of Sychaeus and she doesn't exist elsewhere, independently of her male counterparts.

  1. Civilization and Savagery in The Iliad.

    To a certain point he has succeeded. Men no longer wage war (only small battles) over women and rage no longer drive armies.

  2. To what extent did the Roman emperor Augustus restore the republic?

    tribunician powers which when coupled with the oath of allegiance to Augustus and his heirs in 33BC undermines significantly the traditions of the republic and would indeed suggest that he did not restore it.

  1. According to the Res Gestae and Suetonius' Life of Augustus, how effective were Augustus' ...

    He made it seem that the reforms were only intended to democratise the proceedings and make the Senate more respected, which they did, but they were also intended to suit his needs and allow him to continue cleverly keeping control of rule over the Empire without people realising that he was doing so.

  2. Assess the significance of the Gods in Homer's Iliad and Odyssey

    Apollo shares in the generous versatility of Hector, while Athene is associated with the prepossessing stateliness of Achilles and Diomedes. Such relations are no matter of course. What connects these pairs is actual contact, accessibility, recognition, and closeness. These immortals are more at home on earth than in heaven.

  1. What impression is given of Aeneas as a man and as a leader in ...

    work quite clearly in Book Five, in which the funeral games, "held in honour of the divine father of Aeneas"(Book 5), combine a celebration of the familial and of the holy. Like the "Father" figure that Aeneas, by fate takes on, Odysseus has great affection for his men.

  2. What is the role of Jupiters Prophecy in the Aeneid?

    He will be named Julius, a name passed down to him by the great Iulus.â â which serves to praise Julius Caesar for effectively conquering the known world, and so praises his tremendous efforts. âIn time to come, have no fear, you will receive him in the sky, laden with the spoils of the East.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work