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Character Analysis in Aeneid

Character Analysis Examples in Aeneid:

Book I

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"Thus while he dealt it round, the pious chief With cheerful words allay'd the common grief:..."   (Book I)

Aeneas and his men have endured insurmountable hardships caused by Juno's wrath. Aeneas feels deeply unsettled and worried that they will not complete their mission, however, he hides this fear in order to inspire strength and courage in his people. Aeneas is a great leader because he puts the needs of his people before his own.

"The gods, if gods to goodness are inclin'd; If acts of mercy touch their heav'nly mind..."   (Book I)

From the Greek and Trojan perspective, the gods could be either helpful or hurtful to men, depending on their whims.  The gods, at least from Aeneas's view, are not dependable, which is why he puts more faith in his and his companions desire to survive so that their people can endure.

"Ilioneus..."   (Book I)

On ceremonial occasions, Ilioneus is the spokesman for the Trojans.

"expecting there the queen..."   (Book I)

Virgil is referring to Aeneas's fear of Juno. Even though he is overwhelmed by the majesty of the city, he's still afraid of encountering Juno, who hates the Trojans.

"These words he spoke, but spoke not from his heart; His outward smiles conceal'd his inward smart..."   (Book I)

A poignant moment that lends realism to the mythic tale. Aeneas, as the leader, has to appear confidant and upbeat to encourage his followers, but he has seen so many of friends die in the Trojan War and during the escape to Italy (Latium) that he is truly in despair. Virgil is humanizing this mythic hero by making him subject to emotional trauma.

"Acestes' gift, When his Trinacrian shores the navy left..."   (Book I)

Acestes, who lives in Sicily, is the son of the Sicilian river god Crimisus and a Trojan woman named Egesta. When Aeneas and the Trojan fleet stop in Sicily, Alcestes entertains them and helps supply their ships. Trinicria is a Latin poetic name for Sicily.

"Capys thence, or Antheus..."   (Book I)

Capys, another of Aeneas's Trojan comrades, is reputed to be the founder of Capua in Italy. Antheus is another Trojan officer.

"Achates faithful..."   (Book I)

Achates is one of Aeneas's most loyal comrades—often described as fidus Achates, meaning "faithful Achates."

"Ilioneus..."   (Book I)

Ilioneus is one of Aeneas's officers. Throughout the Aeneid, when Aeneas is not around, Ilioneus is usually left in charge as Aeneas's spokesman.

"The crown to King Latinus I resign: His be the sov'reign sway. Nor will I share His pow'r in peace, or his command in war. For me, my friends another town shall frame, And bless the rising tow'rs with fair Lavinia's name." ..."   (Book XII)

Aeneas makes this pact with King Latinus so that his people might live in peace and equality with the Latins. Unlike many other epic heroes, Aeneas does not want to conquer lands to demonstrate his power or glory, but rather wants to do what is best for his people. He shows compassion and honor in this treaty, along with a commitment to his duty. Aeneas set an example of what a hero and a leader should be, one after which the Romans modeled their civic duty and moral compass as the empire grew.

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