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How Does Aeneas Present Himself And His People In Book 2 Of The Aeneid?

2954 words - 12 pages

The second book of Virgil's Aeneid is the account of the sack of Troy from Aeneas' point of view. Since Aeneas is the narrator, the characterisation of him and his men is particularly interesting because it demonstrates the way in which Virgil intended his future founder of the Roman race to portray himself in the face of adversity. As a result Virgil is able to emphasise the bravery of the Trojans in contrast with the merciless Greeks, showing that although the ancestors of the Romans lost the war, they remained wholly courageous in spite of their unprecedented defeat; consequently showing that their eventual glory did not come without hardship. The book opens with Aeneas 'shudder[ing] to remember' the 'agony of Troy'. He emphasises the duplicity of the Greeks combined with his own suffering both as an individual and as one of the nation: 'the destruction by the Greeks of the wealth of Troy and of the kingdom that will be mourned forever, and all the horrors I have seen.' Virgil's aim is to accentuate Trojan success despite calamity, and this opening speech sets the tone for the rest of Book Two.Aeneas' description of the Trojan horse trick particularly highlights the deception of the Greeks contrasting with the kindness of the Trojans, thus evoking the sympathy of the audience: both Dido, whose help Aeneas requires, and Virgil's reader, who must see the greatness of the race who founded the Roman people. Aeneas makes a point of showing that the Trojans were not easily deceived. He describes how his men were initially suspicious of the wooden horse: 'the people were uncertain and their passions were divided.' However, he explains how the Trojans maintained their doubts but were bombarded with omens in favour of the Greek 'gift'.The first is Sinon, whose 'purpose was to open Troy to the Greeks . . . to spin his web.' Sinon tricks them in to taking pity for him, saying that because the Greeks sacrificed Iphigeneia, a Trojan, they had to sacrifice a Greek in return, and Sinon was chosen as the victim, but he escaped. This story fits in with the Trojan view of Greeks as 'barbarians' and Aeneas describes how the Trojans pitied him, and believed his lies: 'we spared him and even began to pity him.' As a result, they believe Sinon's explanation of the purpose of the Trojan horse because he appears to hate the Greeks. He says that it is a gift to Pallas to make up for the theft of her statue by Ulixes and Diomede, and that they made it too big to fit in to the city because the gods have said if it enters the walls it is prophesised to guarantee the successful invasion of Greece; but if they violate it, destruction will fall upon their empire. Throughout this episode Aeneas stresses the apparent genuineness of Sinon, which is revealed as treachery through his hindsight: 'Sinon was ready with all his Greek arts and stratagems.' Furthermore, rather than showing the Trojans as gullible and foolish, Aeneas presents them as being kind and sympathetic...

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