"The Aeneid" - an epic poem written by Virgil

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The Aeneid, an epic poem written by Virgil is often cited as Augustan propaganda which is true to an extent and can be seen through Augustus' associations with Aeneas and other founders of Rome such as Romulus. Augustus thus sees himself as a modern founder of Rome, entering her into a new age which makes the portrayal of Aeneas as a good leader extremely important, namely piety, so that he could be paralleled with Augustus whom claimed to be a descendent of Aeneas himself.

Aeneas qualities as a leader are evident in times of despair and when in the face of great adversity, it is in these instances that Aeneas often lends his men encouragement and instils courage and motivation in them. This is most evident in Book I in which Aeneas, caught in the middle of a storm, is in a vulnerable position and deeply unhappy. This is portrayed as Virgil states that 'a sudden chill went through Aeneas and his limbs grew weak' which emphasises Aeneas personal sorrows.

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It is for this reason that Aeneas' actions for his men upon their arrival at Carthage become significant and show him to be a tremendous leader. Self-sacrifice is a quality that Virgil builds into Aeneas' character which qualifies him as a good leader as despite Aeneas' own personal suffering "he shows them the face of home and kept his misery deep in his heart" which indicates that Aeneas selflessly puts the feelings and emotions of his men before his own and is willing to torment himself rather than have their spirits fail, promising them that "the kingdom of Troy shall rise again.

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This aspect of Aeneas in that he wishes not to drain his men of hope and courage but instead sacrifice his own wellbeing is also evident in Book I as he later must get away from his men to mourn the loss of Orontes and Amycus. During the war with the Latins, Aeneas again enacts this self -sacrifice to instil spirit among his men. Virgil tells us that Aeneas is suffering from 'great tides of grief' at the thought of war yet at the same time he encourages his troops before battle by getting them to parade behind their standards thus instilling a sense of pride.

This concept of self-sacrifice shows him to be a figure of great strength and composition. However, it is important to note that during this time, Aeneas claims that he wished that he had died in Troy which could arguably reflect Aeneas' self-interests rather than interests for the wellbeing of his entire crew. This view that Aeneas cares deeply for his men is strengthened immediately upon his arrival in which Aeneas takes it upon himself to search for his missing men which shows how dearly he cares for their wellbeing.

It occurs again during Book V in which, struggling with misery and guilt over the fate of Dido, Aeneas decides to host games and entertainment for his men to keep their spirits up as well as honour his beloved father. During these games, Aeneas' care for his men is stressed through the rewards and gifts for both the victors and losers of them; at one point during the boxing match, Aeneas even intervenes between Entellus and Dares, ending the game in fear that one of them may be killed. During Book V, Aeneas also appears caring and understanding as a leader to his crew by allowing those who wished to stay behind in Sicily.

This shows that Aeneas is not forceful or autocratic in his leadership which is a reflection of Augustan ideals and is therefore an essential aspect of his care for his men. Aeneas later meets Pallas who he becomes fond of and acts as a good leader to him, teaching him the ways of war and acting as his mentor and providing him with a father figure. Aeneas' care for Pallas is stressed upon his death, in which he becomes consumed by a battle rage and savagery and Aeneas is described as "burning with rage" and filled with "a raging torrent of water or a storm of black wind."

He slaughters countless and even takes some prisoners to sacrifice to the ghost of Pallas which indicates how much Aeneas truly cared for his men even on a personal and individual level. Aeneas also physically provides for his men which reflects his care for them, he hunts and prepares a feast of seven stags and even shares Anchises' wine with them in Book I which reflects his gracious and caring nature. It is important to note that it is not just Aeneas who loves his men but also his men whom love Aeneas which is a testament to his quality of leadership.

They describe his as "Our king Aeneas. He had no equal for his piety and care for justice or skill in battle. " They are also overjoyed when he returns to them after his excursion to find Evander. In the Augustan Age, the concept of piety, especially religious piety, was seen to be an essential quality in leadership which Augustus often displayed through his restoration of temples such as that of Mars Ultor. Aeneas too is renowned for his pietas which he shows to his family, follwers, country and to the Gods.

Aeneas' piety is evident throughout, being referred to by Virgil as "the devout," "the dutiful" or "Pies Aeneas" and can be seen clearly when Aeneas introduces himself to a disguised Venus, announcing himself as "Aeneas, known for my devotion. " Aeneas' men also speak highly of his pietas which shows him to be a good leader and role model for them, giving them an example to follow, describing him as "Our king Aeneas, he had no equal for his piety and his care for justice."

Aeneas often makes prayers to the Gods in times of need such as when he discovered the burning ships of Troy and prays immediately to Jupiter; he also sacrifices to them and makes libations to the blessed Gods such as when he sacrifices the sow in the name of "O greatest Juno" which would indicate that he has great pietas. Aeneas is constantly focussing on the spiritual which is most clear in Book VI in which on arrival to Cumae his men search for practical items such as flint and water but Aeneas is focused primarily on worship which is seen by his immediate journey to the temple of Apollo which is cemented by the epithet "Devout."

He also takes their advice and obeys them unconditionally which a Roman audience would consider the qualities of a great leader, this is seen when Aeneas accepts instantly the orders of Mercury to leave Carthage and Queen Dido which highlights Aeneas' dedication to his duty even if it comes at the cost of his own personal emotions. It is important to note that Aeneas is not only a good leader to his crew but also to his family which highlights his role as "pater" and "Father Aeneas."

Aeneas displays heroic qualities with his family which also reflect his ability to lead, both of which Augustus saw as essential aspects of his rule. Aeneas' care and good leadership displayed towards his father Anchises and his son Ascanius is evident in Book II in which he symbolically holds his father on his shoulder and holds his sons hand which reflects the importance of the role of pater familias and leader of his family. The care Aeneas shows for his son is most evident in Book II in which described Aeneas' thoughts, saying that "All his thoughts were on his dear son Ascanius."

Aeneas care he shows for his father is also evident throughout The Aeneid and shows him to be a good leader in terms of his family and reinstates his role as "Father Aeneas. " In Book V, despite his only personal troubles he decides to host celebratory funeral games to honour his father who has been deceased for a year. Aeneas stresses his duty to his father, saying that no matter what circumstances he found himself in he would have honoured his father on this anniversary which stresses his dutiful nature as leader.

During Book VI, Aeneas' love for his father is further emphasised when he visits the underworld and makes a touching request to visit his father in the underworld which leads to their emotional reunion in which "tears were streaming down his cheeks. " Aeneas can be argued though to be a bad leader in relation to his family due to his actions in Troy involving his beloved wife Creusa in which he made her "walk at a distance" behind him which subsequently led to her death. Aeneas can be absolved of being unloving however based upon his reaction to her death in which Virgil says that he "stormed and raged at her loss."

It can also be argued that Creusa died as a sacrifice for Rome which would make Aeneas appear as a great leader due to his willingness to sacrifice for the good of a nation. Aeneas can thus largely be viewed as a good pater familias due to the nature of relationship with Anchises and Ascanius. However, it is important to note that in some cases Aeneas strays from his destiny and wastes time and acts within his own self-interest rather than the men of Troy or for the future of Rome.

This is most evident during his time spent in Carthage with Dido in which he settles down with her and delays his fate. It is evident that Aeneas' men wished to leave and were resentful of his actions due to the fact that when Aeneas informs them that they shall be leaving they "were delighted to receive their orders. " It is important to note however that upon being ordered to leave Carthage, Aeneas' reaction is swift and decisive which perhaps suggests that he had an underlying realisation that what he was doing was wrong as he is somewhat ardent with desire to leave Carthage.

It is important to note that after this incident Aeneas tends not to get side tracked which would absolve him of poor leadership. In conclusion, I believe that Aeneas proves himself to be an invaluable leader both in the context of his soldiers and in the context of his role as pater patriae and pater familias. With his men he makes countless self-sacrifices, instilling spirit into their hearts despite his own misery, the most significant example of this being in Book I when he promises them that "Troy shall rise again" despite his own transgressions.

Aeneas also physically provides for them with the seven stags and Anchises' wine and at points even goes out of his way to entertain them and comfort them which is seen during the funeral games in which all contestants received a prize. Aeneas can also be viewed as a good leader in his role as pater familias due to how he clearly cares for both his son and father, although the extent to which he cared for his wife Creusa is still questionable.

Aeneas' sacrifice of his personal emotions in order to fulfil his destiny is what gives him the title of pater patriae over the nation of Troy and Rome and is most notable when he leaves Dido in order to continue his journey to Latium. Aeneas can thus be seen to not only be a good leader to his men but also in the eyes of a Roman audience whom would respect his pietas for his followers, family, country and Gods. Portraying Aeneas as a good leader and hero was unarguably important to Augustus whom wished to equate himself with Aeneas in terms of leadership as a source of Auctoritas and propaganda.

Updated: Apr 19, 2023
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"The Aeneid" - an epic poem written by Virgil. (2020, Jun 02). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/epic-poem-2779-new-essay

"The Aeneid" - an epic poem written by Virgil essay
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