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Sample essay topic, essay writing: Epics The Aeneid And Metamorphoses: A Comparison - 956 words
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Epics The Aeneid and Metamorphoses: A Comparison Both Vergil and Ovid imbedded underlying meanings in their epics TheAeneid and Metamorphoses. In this paper I will focus on the underlying meaningin the Underworld scene in Vergil's The Aeneid (lines 356 through 1199). I willalso focus on three scenes in Ovid's Metamorphoses. Both epics contain a largermessage about the importance of the Roman past for its present and future underAugustus. The story of Aeneas in the Underworld can be interpreted as a brilliantrendition of the story of Rome's past, present, and future.
When Aeneasdescends into the Underworld, he is escorted by the Sibyl (lines 347 - 349).This gives the readers a clue that what is to happen in the upcoming text is aforetelling of Roman future because the Sibyl was a prophetess (Course Packet,p16). As Aeneas enters the Underworld, he sees numerous horrible sights: Grief,Disease, Old Age, Fear, Hunger, and several others. (Lines 356 - 379) Theseunsettling and dark words bring difficult images to the reader's mind. Theselines foretell that there will be difficulties while Rome is in its infancythrough phrases like 'lonely night' and 'phantom kingdom'. Rome did indeed havedifficulties in its infancy; in the 7th and 6th centuries BCE it was ruled byEtruscan kings and was only '.. a little hill town.' (Short Histories, p20) Lines 390 through 549 in The Aeneid deal with the crossing of the RiverStyx. This represents a great transition period in Rome
It symbolizes thefounding of the Republic. The multitude of rushing and swarming people (Line402) represents those that suffered the 'internal turmoil' in the early stagesof the Republic. (Short Histories, p21) When Aeneas mentions, '.. and by whatrule must some keep off the bank ..' (Lines 419 - 421) he may symbolically bereferring to the 'Struggle of the Orders' that the early Republic experienced.(Short Histories, p22) As Aeneas wanders through the Underworld, he notices Dido wanderingabout. (Lines 593 - 626) He tries to talk to her, but his words serve nopurpose; she flees from him.
He then sees the souls of those who died in battle.(Lines 628 - 650) These lines correspond to the Punic Wars that occurred from264 to 146 BCE (Short Histories, pg. 24 - 26) because Aeneas offended, andarguably caused the death of, Dido when he left Carthage where he lived withDido. (The Aeneid Book IV, line 300) In lines 738 - 832 Aeneas beholds the fortress Tartarus and itsinhabitants who are being beaten and whipped. This gruesome scene can berelated to Julius Caesar's death. The tormented souls could represent theenemies of Caesar. 'Caesar had spared the lives of many of his most famousenemies..' (Short Histories, p33) These enemies rose up and slew him for hiskindness. The 'Tyrant - Slayers' (Short Histories, p34) were soon embattled inwar for their unpopular attack. After Aeneas witnesses the horrors of Tartarus, he comes upon the Grovesof Blessedness.
This utopian abode is where those that served beneficial livesby helping their country, being pious, or advancing the qualities of life reside.(Lines 844 - 889) These lines actually have two hidden meanings. Following thhistory of Rome, this is the period where Augustus ruled. Vergil is trying toimpress Augustus by relating his wisdom while ruling to a heavenly place. Thesecond hidden meaning is that Vergil wanted to portray that those who were 'goodRoman citizens' had a much greater future to look forward to that those who were'bad citizens'. After witnessing all he did in the Underworld, Aeneas finally meets hisfather Anchises.
From lines 999 through 1190, Anchises tells Aeneas what is tocome in the near future. Anchises lists the descendants of Aeneas, leavingspecial mention on Caesar by placing him directly after Romulus. Augustus isglorified as the son of a god, and many great deeds are spoken on his behalf.The epic ends on a sad note: that of Marcellus' death. (Lines 1148 - 1182)This sad ending foretells that Rome will never achieve its full potential, yetit will achieve much. Ovid takes a different approach to his story-telling. Instead ofconstructing elaborate events which have double meanings, he simply tellsseveral stories. Ovid's works are less complex than Vergil's, and there is muchless meaning within his stories. When Pythagoras is speaking, a recurring idea in his speeches is to noteat the flesh of another animal. (Ovid, p337 - 338) On a symbolic level, he islecturing about taking another person's life.
In this sense, Pythagoras may bespeaking against murder, and against war. By stating that '.. creatures tryingto kill us may be killed ..' (p 337) he is implying that it may be necessary todefend one's life against attack, but one should never attack another. In viewof Rome's past, this lecture may have come about as a result of the Punic Warswhen a large deportation of males from Rome as soldiers caused a seriousmanpower shortage within the city. (Short Histories, p 25 - 27) Another important message in Pythagoras' speech is that of change.Pythagoras gives several examples of how things seem to change, yet they somehowremain in their original form. (Ovid, p339 - 341) This story can be related toRome itself. The city, throughout the centuries, changed much. At times it wasa mighty empire, at times it was on the verge of collapse.
Yet throughout thecenturies, Rome has survived in some form, and will continue to do so. Ovid's last story is that of Julius Caesar, his death, and of Augustus'reign. In this part of the epic, the gods play a role in the death of JuliusCaesar. Venus tries to let Caesar live, but the other gods intervene and tellher that it is his fate to die (p 355 - 356). Caesar does indeed die, but he isturned into a god upon his death.
This glorifies is heir Augustus because henow is the son of a god. Ovid is trying to impress Augustus with flatteringwords, and by involving so many gods in his stories he is almost making Augustusa living god.
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