The Transfigured Aeneas
Duty is an ever-prominent theme found throughout Virgil’s The Aeneid. In a close analysis of Aeneas’ journey for the rebirth of Rome, he is seen as a transfiguring character, or, to me, one that is seen to undergo significant changes to result in a better form of one’s self to carry out a duty. It is evident that Aeneas’ duty is one that transfigures the wandering and emotionally lost leader into a divine, all-knowing one who is able to find himself in the rebirth of Troy and the well being of future Romans. In order to develop the idea of Aeneas’ change as one to a divine form, I will draw upon the extreme importance of his fate, what is encompassed in such a divine leader, and attainment of Rome, the new Troy, through suffering.
Aeneas' dedication to following his prophesied path directly proves the significance of this fate depicted in the underworld. His katabasis to the underworld in book VI is a turning point in which he is able to begin to accept his upcoming fate. Aeneas proclaims that he is “Aeneas, duty-bound, and known above high air of Heaven" (I.519-20). The fate of his journey makes for Aeneas’ decent into the underworld as a human a possibility. With this decent comes complete knowledge of the future, thus altering his perception on the meaning of life and what to live for. This fate, specifically the idea of a new home, gave the wandering and confused Aeneas something to grasp on to. In turn, Aeneas’ transfiguration is able to set in. Finding himself in revelation of fate causes Aeneas to realize he must sacrifice his contentment and adjust his character in order to fully satisfy his fate. This fate is an absolute transporter of Aeneas into maturity and becoming a divine leader for Rome.
Aeneas' visit to the Underworld to meet with his father leads him into the beginning of his divine role of leadership, but with this, comes an internal struggle, thus a change in Aeneas and the way he thinks. Aeneas is aware of his destiny and responsibility to give new life to Rome, but the process of achieving his destiny is heavy and he wishes to live his own life free of struggle, ironically creating a struggle within himself. At one point, Aeneas is even seen throwing his arms up to the gods above and those that have fallen in the War exclaiming, "Lucky, all you men to whom death came before your fathers' eyes below that wall at Troy! Why could I not have gone down when you had wounded me, and lose my life on Ilium's battlefield?" Aeneas knows of the trials that await him in yet another journey, but is also able to dwell in the desire of carrying...