Compare Aeneas and Odysseus in Their Role As Leaders And Prospective
Virgil's 'Aeneid' and Homer's 'Odyssey' are two very different
stories, told from opposing viewpoints: that of the Trojans in 'The
Aeneid,' and of the Greeks in 'The Odyssey.' The two leaders, Aeneas
and Odysseus, that feature are therefore very different in their
approach to leadership. However, despite their differences they both
rise to the challenges set to them as true leaders.
In each work, the first time the great leaders feature, the first
impression given of each is hardly one of a strong leader and future
hero. When we first meet the Greek hero, Odysseus, he is sitting on a
rock despairing on the island of Ogygia, where the demi-goddess
Calypso has kept him for eight years. He appears hopeless and
defeated; not exactly typical leadership qualities. This mirrors the
first appearance of Aeneas, except for the fact he is still amongst
his own men, who is facing fierce sea storms ordered by the goddess
Juno. He too is crying in desperation and appears to have lost all
hope in his destiny:
'A sudden chill went through Aeneas and his limbs grew weak. Groaning,
he lifted his hands palms upward to the stars and cried'
From these first impressions, you would view both men as being
incapable of leading men if they cannot even control their own
emotions. However, this first impression is what allows their eventual
successes to appear even greater.
Aeneas is actively in charge of men from the very start of 'The
Aeneid.' After Neptune causes the ferocious storm to subside, we see
Aeneas and his fellow Trojans land on Libya. It is here that we get
our first glimpse of Aeneas the leader as he immediately checks the
sea for any lost men, and shoots down enough stags to feed his
'he succeeded in stretching seven huge carcasses on the ground, one
for each of the ships.'
Odysseus on the other hand is alone throughout most of 'The Odyssey'
as he attempts to reach home, having lost all his men in the dangers
accounted for later on in the work. This gives us the impression he
was perhaps not such a caring leader as Aeneas. It is not that he
appears a selfish leader in the flash backs, but we must remember that
Odysseus himself is telling the stories and may well have enhanced his
own greatness. A clear example of him putting his own safety before
his men's is when they reach Circe's island and he sends one of his
men to check the island for any possible hostilities.
Aeneas and Odysseus's aims in the works are similar in the sense both
men wish to reach their homeland. However, Aeneas is not trying to
reach Troy but a found a new homeland for his race, which makes his
journey appear much more of a challenge. However, we learn from
Odysseus account that his journey has been far from easy. He has faced
many fearful creatures and challenges, and been detained in Ogygia for
eight years before finally being allowed...