The Secondariness Of Virgilian Epic And Its Unprecedented Originality

1633 words - 7 pages

Separated by seven hundred years these two ancient European epic poems, the Aeneid and the Odyssey, use the after-effect of the Trojan War as a basis for their storyline. William Franke, a professor at Vanderbilt University and historian, constructed this scholarly journal article; The Secondariness of Virgilian Epic and Its Unprecedented Originality, to compare and contrast the Aeneid and the Odyssey, and proposes a theory based on prophecy by Virgil (Franke, 1). Dealing with the first chronologically written poem, the Odyssey, a Greek poem written by Homer, starts off beginning ten years after the Trojan War, where the main character Odysseus faces conflict on his journey returning home to his kingdom Ithaca. Throughout the epic poem, Odysseus encounters issues with Greek Gods, traveling at sea, and gaining acceptance from his wife and kingdom to believe that he is not an imposter—luckily, he reclaims control of his throne and wife’s love (Krstovic 1). Comparatively, the roman literature written by Virgil, the Aeneid’s plot is about the Trojan king Aeneas, who leaves his land with the remaining survivors to reside in Rome, Italy. The Aeneid is a combination of the past and the future, where Virgil writes about the future of the Roman Empire based on historical information of the past. The synopsis presented by Franke, is the Aeneid mimics aspects from the Odyssey and presents his theory by comparing and contrasting against one another. Franke also argues, Virgil wrote the Aeneid based on historical events designed to explain the creation of the successful Roman Empire and Virgil’s writings have a religious-moral goal dealing with prophecy related to one of Christians (Franke).
For understanding the epic poem, it is essential to acknowledge the period during the composure of the Aeneid and the arising conflicts occurring in Rome, at that given time. Ranging from the years 29 to 19, BCE Virgil constructed the Aeneid. Only several years earlier, Brutus, Cassius, and other senators in 44 BCE, assassinated Julius Caesar, the ruler at that time. Afterwards chaos occurred when Octavian (Augustus) and Marc Antony, fought over control of the Roman state. After the loss and suicide of Marc Antony and his Egyptian lover Cleopatra, “the imperial age” had been born (Lincoln). Caesar Augusto commanded Virgil to compose this creation story of the Roman Empire, which often people might argue that the Aeneid is a form of propaganda. (Franke, 14) The main goal for Aeneas is to complete his journey to Rome, during this, he faces many factors including overcoming the temptation of Dido, which Franke argues is the symbolism for the success of the Roman Empire. As seen in the Aeneid, “…principally through the struggle against Carthage, but also against Cleopatra, for whom Dido serves as aprefiguration” (Franke, 17). Since the Aeneid’s reason for creation was to explain the formation of the Roman Empire, Dido character represents the temptation of...

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