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

What impression is given of Aeneas as a man and as a leader in Books 1-6 of "The Aeneid"? How similar is he to Odysseus?

Extracts from this document...


What impression is given of Aeneas as a man and as a leader in Books 1-6 of "The Aeneid"? How similar is he to Odysseus? To analyse the character of Aeneas in comparison to the character of Odysseus we must first recognise that they have both been sent away from home, Aeneas by force after the sack of Troy and Odysseus to fight from the Greek side. To analyse them as leaders and "good men" we must look at their feats and their strengths as well as recognising their flaws as people and warriors. Both characters are extremely respected as heroes. Virgil presents us with the man that founded the greatest empire of all, the Roman Empire. Odysseus had the idea of the Trojan horse, without which the Greeks would not have won the war. Both are primarily good men who serve their countries well. I found though, that they do this in two very different ways. Odysseus' nostos and Aeneas search for a new home. Scholars continue to disagree on whether or not Aeneas is presented as a good soldier, although the question itself is certainly far from black and white, complicated by the culturally relative nature of terms such as "conflict"and "courage", as well as by the rather oblique definition that "good" itself holds. Odysseus respectively. I will argue that Aeneas meets the criteria set by neither model and that, ultimately, he is an emotionally unstable, morally dubious and even an incompetent military leader. However, the very fact that he is the protagonist needs to be stressed: his character is necessarily sympathetic, dynamic and intricate. My intention is not to assert that Aeneas is a villain or a coward; he is quite obviously neither of these things and such an interpretation of the Aeneid, a text rich and ambiguous in meaning, would be nothing short of reductive. And in this way he must, and does, have some positive, somewhat redeeming features. ...read more.


Cruesa, his first wife, is lost at Troy; Dido, debatably his second, commits suicide and Anchises, his father, dies in the port at Drepanum. Only his son and heir, Ascanius, is still standing at the end of Book Twelve. Of course, it may be argued that the hero is culpable for not a single one of these deaths were it not for the fact that, with the exception of Anchises, Aeneas readily confesses to his personal failure in the role of warrior-protector. For instance, he admits to being "confused" and "robbed" of his "wits" when, in Book Two, he quite literally loses his wife, "I never saw her again. Nor did I look behind me or think of her or realise that she was lost." (Book 2). Odysseus is performing an act of duty to himself. Aeneas is carrying to burden of a nation without a home. This difference means that any mistakes that Aeneas makes are taken more seriously. By the end of the poem Odysseus, himself returns home with all his men lost. But he succeeds his nostos. He is still a hero. Aeneas could not have lost many men because he would have no people to found his city with. Odysseus' mistakes are critical to his own nostos. When Aeneas remains at Carthage, his people's fates are at risk. Odysseus has a painful curiosity, which in some cases I am sure contribute to his reputation as "The master strategist". At the Cyclops's cave, even though his men are scared and eager to leave the empty cave, Odysseus makes them stay in hope for guest friendship. This leads many men to be "dashed against the rocks as if they were puppies" and being eaten alive by the Cyclops - a big mistake on the part of Odysseus. Another huge flaw in his character is pride. When Polyphemus is blinded, Odysseus shouts a boast of who he is and where he is from so that the ruined Cyclops can hear. ...read more.


For the sake of his men, Aeneas feigns hope on his face although he is worried. With both speeches, Virgil shows important qualities of a leader. Aeneas puts the feelings of his people before his own as every leader should. Aeneas's human frailty allows him to identify with his people; he is not too divine to feel the pain and grief that the rest of Trojans feel. Aeneas keeps his men alive by both feeding their bodies with food and feeding their souls with hope, "And perhaps one day it will please us to remember even these things". By saying these words, Aeneas provides the Trojans with a father figure - exactly what they need in these troubled times. The Trojans need someone who is wiser and in control to guide them through their journey. Virgil intended Aeneas to be the perfect Roman embodying the most valued personality traits. The Romans greatly valued the personal qualities of a strong devotion to duty, a strong character, and putting the common good before personal gain. Aeneas would therefore exhibit strong leadership qualities from a Roman civilisation's point of view. However, from today's point of view we are most ably allowed to look around his character and compare it to what we class as a "good" man and a "good leader". Aeneas and Odysseus are both good leaders. They both succeed in their missions. But Aeneas, in my opinion, goes through more temptations and hardships than Odysseus and has a far grander mission with two gods against him. He is open to make more errors because he is shown as the lesser man, a younger man who has been through less than Odysseus. He does not have to master strategy of Odysseus which makes it difficult for him until he is prompted by the gods. The main difference between these two characters is that Odysseus has the ambition to return home and is merely helped by Athene. Aeneas is pushed and played with by fate and the will of the gods. Alexandra Spencer-Jones Classical Civilisation - Epic (Aeneas Vs Odysseus) Christmas Assignment (2002) 1 1 ...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. Descent to the Underworld in the Aeneid and the Odyssey

    motherland, his infinite curiosity and the will to find out everything about himself and the world around him - that's the main motive force in Homer's poem. A totally different force drives Aeneas, even though he also experiences the death of father and Dido, but it doesn't affect him as much.

  2. Book 9 & 10 - The Odyssey.

    Odysseus agrees to go if Circe makes an oath that she will no perform any more mischief. Circe swears the oath and they go to bed. After Circe noticed Odysseus is not eating, to please him she frees his men and returns them to their human selves.

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

    to feed him human flesh and he highlights his own power and important status, when he says: 'Can you suppose them (demi-gods) safe, when against me, me whom the lightenings, whom yourselves obey, Lycaon plots his treacherous devilry?'7 Moreover, when Jupiter contemplates the destruction of the world, he recalls several

  2. Free essay

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

    The woman he marries in Italy is of course Lavinia, and her role as a woman is so limited that she doesn't actually utter a single word. She only ever appears by her mother's side. Like Lavinia in the Aeneid, Eurycleia is a minor character in the Odyssey.

  1. Similes in the Odyssey: Books 5-7

    Odysseus is glorified by Athena, as Homer describes his appearance as seemingly taller, "and on his head she arranged curling locks that hung down like hyacinthine petals.

  2. What qualities does Odysseus show in the episodes he relates in Books 9-12? Does ...

    At the Laestrygonian land, Odysseus lands away from the rest of his men and makes no attempt to save their lives, fleeing for safety. On Aeaea, Odysseus even contemplates "lopping" Eurylochus's "head off". The worse conflict between Odysseus and his men eventually comes off the shores of Thrinacie, when Odysseus

  1. Odysseus. Although Odysseus physical characteristics are impressive, his character is far more appealing. ...

    He is a well-rounded individual capable of success. This shows that he has the chance to overcome the many obstacles he faces throughout his journey.

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

    We are betrayed" A.1.252 "take pity on them" A.10.60), no action is taken to ease him in his distress or console him in person. Within the Aeneid, the gods are not the ever-present guardians that Athene is to Odysseus in the Odyssey, whether they agree or not ("Hercules checked the great groan...

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