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War And Identity Of The Self

1784 words - 8 pages

Human beings, through warfare, negotiate between complete identity and complete ambiguity. Depending on the capabilities of the individual and their strength in battle, war can serve to emphasize either their vulnerability or their power. We see through the many battles, interventions of gods, and gruesome destruction of men in the Aeneid, that warfare allows for a physical expression of our need for unique identity and provides a means of externalization of internal conflicts which help us to discover exactly who we are and what it means to be human
Whether war is caused by the need to establish identity or whether it is caused by pre-established identities is a difficult question. ...view middle of the document...

This juxtaposition of both strong and weak identities dying emphasizes the mortality of human kind, and its need to overcome it in some fashion.
Those who are more aware of their mortality are more inclined to fight, as if fighting and asserting their dominance with lessen their own fate. Aeneas, born of an immortal god, did not fight until the very end of the war and his savage encounter with Turnus. On the other hand, Entellus, a very human member of Aeneas’ party, found himself in a duel with Darës at the funeral competitions. The old man was once a fighter was goaded into fighting a much younger, quicker man. “I used to fight, while hotter blood sustained me, and age had not worn out as yet or scattered snow on my brows.” (V.538) Eventually, he all but killed the younger man in the fight. This rash fury allowed him to reestablish himself as a living being of importance, almost immortal in a sense. “Don’t you feel a force now more than mortal…?” Finally, Entellus’ fury had to be spent and he struck and killed his prize, a bull. We see through his actions that if one is to assert their own force over mortality or another being, it must be exerted over another force, whether it be a god, a man, or a bull. (V.603) Entellus’ need to establish himself was not influenced solely by his physical degradation as an old man, but also by his utter lack of control. By following Aeneas out of fallen Troy, the Pergamum peoples’ lives were thrown into a confusing whirlwind of fate, constantly affected by the whims of the irrational gods. This lost and unstable people were continually drawn to the one thing which brought them stability; war. In its strict regulation and attainable goals, war can bring together a people like famine, fate, and a search for an unknown land could not. The entrance into combat is an even more clear representation of the navigation between total self and total nothingness; the men driven by their desire for conquering another human being establishes that they are more of a person than the other, as all the dead are equalized in their death. By following Aeneas out of fallen Troy, the Pergamum peoples’ lives were thrown into a confusing whirlwind of fate and death. This lost and unstable people were continually drawn to the one thing which brought them stability; war. In its strict regulation and attainable goals, war can bring together a people like famine, fate, and a search for an unknown land could not.
War, throughout history, brings people together. Throughout their journey, Aeneas’ people were always the children of Troy. In every ill-fated home they attempted to make, they retained their heritage to the fallen city. Once war was initiated with the Latium people through malignant intervention of the gods, this nationalism allowed them to rally together over a common cause and produced a temporarily stable environment. Although the atmosphere of war is less than ideal, death, violence, and survival at any cost are...

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