Who has a closer relationship to their father, Odysseus or Aeneas?

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Introduction

Who has a closer relationship to their father, Odysseus or Aeneas? A central theme predominant in both Greek and Roman epics, also in tragedies, is that of the father/son relationship. Both epic heroes have very different relationships with their fathers due to their very different situations. On Odysseus return he has not seen his father for a total of twenty years, whereas Aeneas has been in constant contact with his for up until his death. Homer uses many epithets when referring to Odysseus within his work, and often refers to Odysseus as "Odysseus, son of Laertes" inferring the pride and honour that Odysseus should feel as the son of Laertes and placing the importance of his fathers achievements and status above his own. Odysseus himself acknowledges and embraces this family connection referring to himself as "Odysseus, son of Laertes" when he reveals his identity to King Alcinous, implicating at Odysseus great admiration for his father. A specific quote from Odysseus reveals his feelings regarding his relationship to his father.

Middle

This suggest that father and son are not as close as first anticipated, especially when taking into consideration that they have been apart for twenty years, we would expect him to be more anxious to see his father. This hero has a tendency to test those who are supposed to be closest to him as well as strangers. His father proves that there is no except. This need to test his own father implies at a serious lack of trust within a relationship which if close there would be no trust issues, father and son should trust each other implicitly if in a genuinely close relationship. Aeneas first displays his deep affection for his father when talking to Dido about the sacking of his home, Troy and how he refused to leave his father behind when fleeing the burning city, despite Anchises pleas for him to go and when refusing to leave Aeneas carried him. This leads to the very poignant moment when Aeneas is carrying his father over his shoulder, away from his past and into his future, symbolizing Aeneas desperate need and desire for his father to be a part of his future and his destiny.

Conclusion

This is a major factor in the distance between Odysseus and Laertes and it is obvious that they do not know each other very well, Laertes even failed to recognize his own son. What also contributes to this is Odysseus' personality. He tends to distance himself from people by being very secretive and suspicious even to those closest to him. One of the lessons that he was suppose to learn over his Odyssey was to trust people yet right up to the re-union with his father he still refuses to and feels the need to test his own father. This lack of trust and his suspicious nature towards even family members means that to some extent he and his father could never be as close as Aeneas and Anchises. Aeneas is the complete opposite to Odysseus in that he embraces everyone like a close family member, his crew are like brothers, which means that his family are even dearer to him and this is obvious in his relationship with his father.

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