Essay Example on John Wilson writes that as Readers









John Wilson writes that as readers we are led to believe that at its core the Aeneid is driven by action over emotion That because shows of emotion are viewed and portrayed as weakness by the Romans they therefore are reasonability withheld frowned upon or even abruptly severed in much of the books of this epic poem He basically states that emotion is held at arm's length from action Action in this case being closely tied to destiny or fate Seemingly strengthening the detachment of emotion and action is the Roman idea of pietas or a dutiful virtue to honor god's country and family especially one s parents over self and in that order Pietas is strongly tied to patriotism and devotion to country in the Aeneid If one was not raised in the Roman culture putting country before family can seem cold blooded and quite dispassionate This detachment of emotion comes into play in several places within the tale of Aeneid a story about a man torn between his own desires and the future of his family and his country Aeneas has a huge burden on his shoulders He alone is being held responsible for the very existence of the Roman Empire 

A Rome that he himself will never see In the early stages of the Aeneid Aeneas is making his choices to move closer to fate mostly from a sense of responsibility not an internal passion to do so He holds fate away from emotion as the gods spur his actions onward to the promised land Thoughts of conquering the place promised to him in prophesy both beguile him and cause him anguish But with almost emotionless rhetoric he pushes on His suffering is so vivid as he tells his son Ascanius the he can learn stamina and bravery from Aeneas as his father but not joy As the Aeneid progresses we get to witness how Aeneas must confront his apprehension and build confidence in this fate We literally watch him grow into a Roman hero In the beginning he initially spends a lot of time in different areas wanting to establish Rome yet asking for peace While in Carthage not only did he keep peace but he built a city and fell in love He did this knowing that the prophecy clearly stated that Carthage must be overthrown By book 8 he finally understands the price that must be paid for fate lives Multiple times Virgil places a stake between Aeneas emotion and his need to act It begins in Book 1 when he is initially trying to rally his men to push forward after their tiresome journey The men are exhausted weak and discouraged So is Aeneas and while yet full of anxiety he has to incite action towards destiny While visiting Helenus and Andromache in their remake of Troy Aeneas must choose the fate of Rome future over his longing for 

Troy past Wilson compares this to Aeneas s compassion for the people waiting to cross the river sticks yet not understanding those who waited to return to new life in Lethe He just hasn't clicked yet When he was with Dido he was required to choose fate over love And although he is internally moved emotion by her sister Anna s pleas for him not to leave he stood firm externally listening to the gods and left action It is in Book 6 that we see his transformation It took Aeneas going back to the recipient of his first act of pietas in the Aeneid his father Anchises who Aeneas carried him on his back from the battle of Troy to safety past showing him the future Aeneas saw his yet unborn son Silvius the great Caesar and Augustus He now has a vision and realizes that his life is not his own These images gave his fate life Wilson goes on to explain that the only way that Aeneas join action and emotion is when his actions are fueled with fury Amid battle he continues to show pietas but he hears of the death of Pallas and something changes Aeneas is filled with fury much like the fury of Achilles in the Iliad It leads to his aristae The actions are the same but the end results were noticeably the difference Fury is different than anger Anger is selfish What Aeneas did was not for fame or glory he did it for the greater good pietas 

This explains why Aeneas can go on mercilessly killing unarmed men collecting human sacrifices and killing a child and it be justified Even during the killing Aeneas shows piety His actions are compared to those of Turnus who also killed a child unmatched in ability While enraged Aeneas asked Lauses to leave the battlefield killed him to get to his father mourned his death returned his body to his father and did not desecrate it or take any armor Turnus took his time taunting Pallas gloated in his death wanted Evander to see him die stepped on his body and took his sword belt Oddly Turnus begs for pietas after having refused it to Pallas Much like Hector and Patroclus Wilson shows that Aeneas had to face death in the realm of destiny no differently than the Gods Jupiter had to accept the death of Sarpedon and Hercules the death of Pallas This detachment from emotion and fate may be a direct translation of the emotion felt by Virgil who was commissioned to write the Aeneid There are clues that he wanted to be detached from the requirement to write it and left breadcrumbs in it This could explain why he also wanted to burn it Just like Aeneas he may have felt that in the end he lost himself in pursuit of pietas and gained great sorrow while seeking the greater good

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