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Aeneas:An Unheroic Hero

TheAeneid isan epic poem that communicates the legendary Latin story aboutAeneas. Virgil wrote the poem from 29BC to 19BC. The legendary storyshows that Aeneas, a Trojan, is the ancestor of the historicallysignificant Roman population in Italy. The essay indicates thatAeneas is a heroic person in the history of the Trojan society.

Heroicconduct is an action that aims at improving the quality of life ofhuman beings. In the current society very many people are involved inactions that improve the living conditions of individuals. Healthworkers like physicians are heroes because they offer importantmedical services that save the lives of patients. Scientists andresearchers are heroes because they engage in studies aimed atgenerating medical solutions for instance, developing cancer andHIV/AIDS medications. Aeneas engages in heroic actions. He displays astrong urge to protect the interest of his nation and family. Stahl(170) explains that Aeneas “feels the community-oriented urge andobligation to serve country and justice with at least equalintensity” (170). The nation is protected through active and heroicmilitary service that ensures proper defense against foreignaggression. Aeneas tried his best in protecting his city from foreigninvasion even when he had “only two more fighters, one old and onewounded” (Stahl 172).

Unheroicconduct is realized when an individual or group of personsparticipate in selfish activities. In the modern society, some peopleparticipate in unheroic activities. Some unscrupulous businessowners for instance, sell goods and services at high costs when thedemand is high so as to earn higher profits. The poem shows theunheroic actions by Aeneas that harmed other members of the society.He participates in battles to achieve the key goal of heroic death.The key motivation for engaging in military defense and attack is notto safeguard the honor and interest of his city, but to achievecomplete military honors when he dies on the battlefield. In thepoem, Aeneas explains that “why could I not die where my famouscomrades died” (Stahl 162). His military colleagues died duringbattles, and they received full military recognition and achievedheroic status in the Trojan society.

Ahero is a person who engages in heroic actions. He or she saves livesand improves the safety and welfare of people in the society. Aeneasis a hero in the Trojan society in many ways. Stahl (172) illustratesthat Aeneas is courageous and heroic because he “wholeheartedlycontinues to fight where most others would long have given up”(Stahl 172). He has a strong justice perspective that enables him toserve beyond the duties and responsibilities of a mere soldier.Aeneas values his family. He engages in military activities with theaim of protecting the interest and love for his family. In the poem,Cytherea is told “and you’ll raise great-hearted Aeneas high, tothe starry sky” (Klin). The poem further explains that Aeneas “willwage a mighty war in Italy, destroy proud peoples, and establishlaws, and city walls, for his warriors” (Klin). Aeneas had a warstrategy that aimed at protecting the Trojans and achieving theirpolitical, military, and socio-cultural interests in Italy.

Aeneaswas a big scale hero because he pursued military glory. He is a“spontaneous fighter whose natural, almost instinctive inclinationis to court death on the battlefield.” Aeneas is also a small scalehero because he values his family. He aims at achieving paternalrecognition. “Before the eyes of the fathers” (Klin) heroism isachieved by glorious death in the battlefield. This shows that themain motivating factor in the Trojan society is glorious death whenfighting for the city. Acts of valor that saves lives are heroic,even if they are influenced by selfish interests. Protecting theTrojan nation from foreign enemies saves lives and furthers theinterests of the entire society. This act is courageous and brave,even if the key motivating factor is achieving individual militaryhonors in the battlefield.


Hans-Peter,Stahl. Aeneous– An Unheroic Hero?Arethusa: Spring, 1981. Print.

Klin,S. “The Aeneid Book I.” Poetryintranslation, http://www.poetryintranslation.com/PITBR/Latin/VirgilAeneidI.htm.Accessed 12 October 2016.

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