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

Descent to the Underworld in the Aeneid and the Odyssey

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Descent to the Underworld in the Aeneid and the Odyssey I chose to compare the Odyssey written by the Greek poet Homer and the Aeneid by the Roman poet Virgil. I will focus my interest on Book 11 of the Odyssey and Book 6 of the Aeneid, since that is when both of the main characters make an educational visit to the underworld. The description of the underworld created by Homer's wild imagination, inspired Virgil eight centuries later. Virgil's masterpiece was planned as an imitation of Homer's poems, so one automatically starts comparing the creations of the two authors. They were separated by eight centuries and by the cultural differences of their people. These differences are reflected on the structure of their compositions. At first the reasons for Aeneas's and Odysseus's voyage to the world below seem similar. Both of them want to receive information from the people who have already died. This knowledge is necessary in order for them to continue a successful life in the real world, amongst the real people. Aeneas wants to ask his wise father Anchises for advise about the foundation of a new state - Rome. His father tells him about the future of his family. This prophecy includes the history of Rome all the way until the days of Virgil himself. What glories follow Dardan generations In after years, and from Italian blood What famous children in your line will come, Souls of the future, living ...read more.

Middle

Robbers and their victims together, leading a cheerless and meaningless existence, they are disembodied souls waiting to be reincarnated. House of Death - where the senseless, burnt-out wraiths of mortals make their home.6 Apart from Hades there is a scarier place called Tartarus, the light never shines there. The gods, who have been thrown down are sent to suffer in Tartarus. Homer also speaks of Elysium or the Isles of the Blest situated somewhere on earth where certain favored heroes may pass, but he never specifies who. In ancient Greece, according to Homer, a clear picture of the underworld didn't exist. Romans adopted the general idea about Hades, Tartarus and Elysium. Virgil developed it to the smallest detail; so that even a person from the twenty-first century starts believing, against his own will, in the existence of the imaginary kingdom. Romans supposed that a person consists of three substances - the body, the soul and the ghost. The body is burned and the ashes are kept in a jar, the soul flies into the sky and the ghost, the disembodied shadow, is sent to the underworld. Here a separation occurs - the shadows of chaste men fly away to Elysium the world of felicity. This was the company of those who suffered Wounds in battle for their country; those Who in their lives were holy men and chaste Or worthy of Phoebus in prophetic song;7 The shadows of criminals fly to Tartarus for torment and suffering. ...read more.

Conclusion

He thinks of himself as a political figure whose mission is to establish a new State - Rome. His personal feelings are not taken in an account; only the great mission is of any importance. He leaves the woman he loves, Dido, because of that. In the center of the Roman culture is the State, its strength and welfare, its power and size. Rome must rule the world. The last words, which Aeneas's father delivers to him, are very symbolic: Let others better mold the running mass Of metals, and inform the breathing brass, And soften into flesh a marble face; Plead better at the bar; describe the skies, And when the stars descend, and when they rise. But, Rome, 't is thine alone, with awful sway, To rule mankind, and make the world obey, Disposing peace and war by thy own majestic way; To tame the proud, the fetter'd slave to free: These are imperial arts, and worthy thee.10 Through an analysis of the adventures of the two characters in the invented underworld, we draw conclusions about their real life, their hopes and dreams. The world of the dead represents a mirror, which reflects this real world and helps us to understand not only the characters but also the poets who wrote the two outstanding compositions, on which all of the world's literature is based. Homer who glorifies the great value of a person and Virgil who glorifies the grandeur of the State - Rome. ...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. Book 9 & 10 - The Odyssey.

    rock across the door, thought up a plan to stab the Cyclops in the eye with an olive-wood that was in the cave and he informed his crew of the plan. That evening the Cyclops returned and ate another 2 men for his meal.

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

    For example, when Venus goes to Jupiter for reassurance about Aeneas' future, she acts like a little girl, and Jupiter, behaves as any father would do towards his daughter-with comfort and kindness. Virgil does not debase or mock their actions, as Ovid would do, so that their divine status is

  1. Free essay

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

    However, there are many reasons why Dido should also be considered dangerous. To a Roman reader, she has strong connections to Cleopatra, because they are both foreign leaders whose true aims were to disrupt the founding of Rome. Virgil doesn't spend as much time describing Dido, as he does describing

  2. Heroism and cowardice in the Odyssey.

    thus the means by which he achieves this end can be ignored. One cannot also help but think that it is more of the Goddess Athene's help than Odysseus's courage and bravado, which ultimately wins the day for him. This is evident from the following lines: "the six did as he ordered and threw with all their might.

  1. Whom do you admire more as a leader – Odysseus in the Odyssey or ...

    Neptune's actions against the work of Juno allow his crew to survive the shipwreck ("calming the swell" A.1.145). Thus, whilst Aeneas is never given a piece of news from the Olympians that he actually wants to hear ("dumb and senseless" A.4.280), his physical aid from the gods is great.

  2. Internal and External Conflicts in The Odyssey

    Odysseus counters this conflict not only with power and strength but also with guile and wisdom and cleverness. Odysseus tricks Polyphemus into drinking many cups of wine offered by Odysseus, so he gets drunk and sleeps. During Polyphemus's snooze, Odysseus makes a spear with the help of his men and

  1. Is Aeneas pious, and would the Romans of Augustan Rome have thought him to ...

    all of Rome, past and in Virgil?s present, to ?govern the people of the world in (their) empire?, which is hugely obvious as propaganda, and in a way, excuses Augustus? plan for world domination, in the same way that many countries throughout history have excused the invasions of other countries:

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

    He too will be called upon in prayer.? This prophesises the deification of Julius Caesar ? for a mortal to be formally recognised as a god was, understandably, an enormous honour for the Julian family, although it could be argued from the point of view of a Roman that due

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