In Virgil’s great epic poem Aeneid, the adventures of Aeneas are registered to create a powerful human drama that still retains its force two millennia past. Aeneas, the hero of the epic, is born of a divine union between the mortal Anchises and the goddess Venus. Believed to have been written circa 20 BC, this rhapsody illustrates the virtues of piety and duty on part of the hero. The grand scale and difficulty of the adventure of Aeneas provides several moments of examination of his virtuous qualities. In his mission to find the prophesied place where he is to build a new Troy, he is accompanied by his father, his baby son Iulus and a group of loyal companions.
One could liken the sense of duty of Aeneus to that of Augustus. This is particularly true with respect to the filial piety shown by Aeneas, as illustrated by “his care for and deference towards his aged father Anchises.” (Whitehorne, 2005, p.1) The epitome of Aeneas’ sense of duty is the scene where he leaves the destroyed city of Troy by carrying his father on his back. After his father’s death, Aeneas will pray to the Gods to invoke divine honors for the deceased soul – an act reminiscent of Octavia appeasing the departed soul of his father Julius Caesar after the completion of the civil war. Aeneas’ sense of duty is also witnesses in his relationship toward his son Julus. For example, during the funeral games for Anchises, Aeneas leads the boys’ equestrian event in the first celebration of the Lusus Troiae, the Game of Troy. The death of his father is a crucial event in the moral development of Aeneas, whose sense of responsibility and resoluteness in accomplishing his objectives increases after the event. His sense of piety and duty thus undergoes a transformation for the good. For example, during the later half of the poem, we witness how Aeneas is brave and willing “to put duty before his own feelings, however great the cost personally as when he obeys the gods and leaves Dido” (Whitehorne, 2005, p.1).
The view that Aeneid is a political poem is given credence by the details of his life and adventure. For example, Aeneid illustrates Aeneas’ ability as a politician and “a maker of alliances as well as his personal valor (and vengeful ruthlessness) which we see come to the fore in the second half of the Aeneid. There is his foundation of cities and his scrupulous observance of religious rituals.” (Whitehorne, 2005, p1) Since in Ancient Rome, the message and moral content of classic literary works were respected by the ruling elite, the subject was used as a vehicle for politics and propaganda. For example,