The Iliad and the Aeneid

 
 
 
 
The Iliad and the Aeneid are undoubtedly two of the greatest epics ever written. They form part of the foundation from which the entire western classical tradition was erected and are considered to be among the world's canonic masterpieces. Both epics are focused on the exploits of a man who is half-god and half-mortal: in the Iliad, the Greek hero Achilles is the focal point of the narrative; in the Aeneid the Roman hero Aeneas is the principal actor. Where the two epics differ markedly is in their treatment of the hero's honor. While Achilles is consumed with his personal honor, Aeneas conception of honor is bound in his duty to his people. Thus, the Iliad and the Aeneid, while at first glance being relatively similar, really portray two radically different conceptions of honor. Homer's portrays the Greek concept honor as being markedly individualistic, focused on heroic exploits for the sake of being remembered throughout the ages. Virgil portrays the roman concept of honor as being bound in the duty to the state and the people, where heroic exploits are done for the sake of one's countrymen and the good of the republic. This paper will compare and contrast these ideals of honor. First we will explore Homer's concept of honor. Then we will examine Virgil's treatment of honor in the Aeneid. Lastly, we will compare the two conceptions and clearly show their very different foci.

The Iliad is considered by many to be the greatest epic poem ever written. Over 15,

     
 
 
 
    

 

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