Compare And Contrast The Divine Machinery Of Odyssey And Aeneid

3356 words - 13 pages

Compare and Contrast the Divine Machinery of the Odyssey and the Aeneid

 
  The Aeneid is a poem of Fate, which acts as an ever-present determinant, and as such Aeneas is entirely in the hands of destiny. The unerring and inexorable passage of fate, assisted by the Gods' intervention, is impossible to prevent and its path does create many victims along the way, who are expendable for Rome to be created. In the Aeneid, mortals suffer, no matter what they do or how good a life they lead and they are unable to rely on the Gods for assistance. However, the Odyssey is a poem of morality, where the good are exulted and the bad are punished ("The blessed gods don't like wicked acts. Justice and fair play are what they respect" O.14.84). It is the gods that uphold the distinction and are very active in passing judgement. No god supports the suitors or the Ithacan crew. Odysseus, the righteous man receives divine support since he is a man worthy of it. Not so in the Aeneid, where Juno supports the enemies of the Trojans, with such men as the dastardly Mezentius. In the Odyssey, destiny is one's own responsibility; instead of leaving all things up to fate, the characters have a significant influence upon his or her own existence. Whilst occasional prophecies punctuate the literary landscape of the Odyssey (e.g. the wanderings of Odysseus after he returns home, and the prophecy of Telemus), they are more poetic tools than fate determinants.

 

            The Aeneid is the story of Rome's creation. It's intended audience was the Romans of 29BC, centuries after the original tale. Thus, the outcome is known right from the start, and is confirmed by Jupiter's speech ("Rome, the rulers of the world...it has been decreed" A.1.282). Aeneas is the father of the nation and as such must succeed. Jupiter, as the God whom ensures Fate is carried out, is active in the Aeneid to make sure the Trojan quest does not fail ("He must sail" A.4.237, "I forbid you to go further" A.12.807). In the Odyssey, interventions by Jupiter is due to his role as arbiter of justice. He sets Odysseus free from Ogygia due to Athene's reminder of his past piety ("sacrifices he made you by the Argive's ships" O.1.63) and of his righteousness as a king ("that admirable King!...ruled like a loving father" O.5.11). She declares that if Odysseus is not set free then the gods are not just. The theme of justice is emphasised at the very start of the poem, with the Proem's reference to the "transgressions" of Odysseus' crew bringing them doom. It is reiterated in the final book as the suitors are killed by the divine agent Odysseus ("victims to the will of the gods and their own infamy" O.22.414). Though it is Jupiter that supervises the course of destiny in both books, in one he is the arbiter of justice and the other of Fate. Fate in the Aeneid is assured from the start and it is an inexorable path, but in the Odyssey men decide their fate. Odysseus' men did not have to eat the...

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