A Comparison of Aneas of Aeneid and Turnus of Iliad

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A Comparison of Aneas of Aeneid and Turnus of Iliad

 
      The subtlety in the differences between Aneas and Turnus, reflect

the subtlety in the differences between the Aeneid and the Iliad.  Although

both characters are devout and noble,  Aneas does not possess the ardent

passion of Turnus.  Unlike Turnus, Aneas is able to place his beliefs in

the fated establishment of Latium before his personal interests. Although

Turnus is not a bad person, the gods favor Aneas in their schemes.  The

roles of Aneas and Turnus are reversed as the Aeneid progresses.  The

erasure of Aneas' free will accounts for his triumph and success.

 

      Time and time again, Aneas' courage, loyalty, and will are tested

in the Aeneid. Through seemingly endless journeys by sea, through love left

to wither, and through war and death, Aneas exhibits his anchored

principals and his unwavering character.

 

            "Of arms I sing and the hero, destiny's exile...

            Who in the grip of immortal powers was pounded

            By land and sea to sate the implacable hatred

            of Juno; who suffered bitterly in his battles

            As he strove for the site of his city, and safe harboring

            For his Gods in Latium" (Virgil 7).

 

As a slave to the gods and their plans, Aneas assimilates his mind and

sacrifices his life to the establishment of Latium.  As the greatest of all

warriors, Aneas displays his superb strength and his leadership

capabilities, by guiding the Trojans to victory over the latins and

establishing Latium.  The selflessness of Aneas and his devotion to the

Gods, enables him to leap over and break through any obstacles that

obstruct his destiny.  Patterned after Homer's Hector, Virgil's Turnus is

also a courageous and devout hero. As the most handsome of Rutilians,

Turnus' nobility reflects his physical appearance; he is a god-fearing,

libation-bearing soldier. Turnus was greatly admired and respected by his

subjects: "by far the fairest (of Italian men) /  Was Turnus, favored both

in his noble forbears /  And by the queen who advanced his claims with

eager devotion" (Virgil 147).

 

      Unlike Turnus, Aneas is able to place his beliefs in Rome before

his own interests; that is the defining characteristic of Aneas' heroism.

Leaving Dido, the beautiful and passionate Carthaginian Queen, was

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extremely difficult for Aneas, and he delayed leaving her as long as

possible. Aneas laments, "If  the Fates /  Allowed me the life I would

choose to live for myself...  it is not /  Of my own free will I must seek

Italy" (Virgil 84). Aneas had suffered greatly at sea and lost many men, he

did not long to sail again. Aneas did not want a war to erupt between

Trojan and Latins, but he knew that nothing could keep him from

establishing Latium where the gods had prophesied. Both Aneas and Turnus

are spurred on to action by visions. In the underworld, Aneas is goaded

by the image of his father:

 

            "'Father, it was you--

            Your grief-engendering spirit time and again

            Appeared to me and constrained me to make my way

            To the edge of this world'" (Virgil 139).

 

Turnus' hatred for Aneas, inspired by the goddess Allecto, was the only

stimulation that Turnus required.

 

            "Turnus!

            Will you stand by and see so much of your effort wasted?

            And what is yours transferred to Trojan settlers?

            The king is refusing to give you your bride, or the dowry

            Won with you blood, and a stranger is being imported

            To inherit the throne! Go on expose yourself

            To unmerited dangers! Be mocked!" (Virgil 158).

 

Consequently, Turnus leads the war against the newcomers blindly and filled

with rage. Turnus fails to surrender or make an agreement even when all is

on the virge of destruction, because he was not fighting for his patria--he

was fighting for his pride.

 

      Destiny best distinguishes the outcome of the lives of Aneas and

Turnus. Turnus simply lacks the heavenly sanction that Aneas possesses.

Since the battle at Troy in the Iliad, when Aneas was rescued from death by

a goddess, the divine purpose of Aneas was being secured.  Aneas is made

aware and reminded of his purpose by Mercury:

 

            "What are you doing? ...

            If no ambition spurs you, nor desire

            To see yourself renowned for your own deeds--

            What of Ascanius, earnest of your line?

            The realm of Italy the Roman inheritance

            His due" (Virgil 82).

 

Aneas' armor, constructed by the god of craftsman, is both exquisite and

exceedingly resistant. Turnus also had divine support form Juno, but Juno

could not over step her boundaries--namely, Zeus' will. Juno was forced to

relinquish control of Turnus' fate, and it was then when  Aneas was able to

murder Turnus in battle.

 

            "I (Juno) am sick and afraid

            Of your ruthless bidding. Oh, but if there were

            That influence in my love which once there was,

            And it is right there should be still, All-Powerful,

            You would not have denied me this at least--

            The power to extricate Turnus form the battle...

            As it is, let him perish. Let him give

            His sinless blood to slake the Trojan vengeance" (Virgil

234).

 

Although it may seem as though Turnus' temperament was his downfall,

Turnus' only fault was that he was not destined to conquer Aneas. In

addition, it  was not the fault of Turnus that he fought so violently and

primal, because the goddess Allecto planted the seeds of hatred and

violence in him. Cosecuently, it was not the fault of Turnus that he was

blinded by rage, and did not seek any methods for peace.

 

      As the story progresses, The jugs of Zeus seem to empty themselves

into each other. At the beginning of the epic, Aneas had suffered greatly

at the hands of mother earth (9-10).The death of Entices in book three,

also affected Aneas greatly. Depicted as a wonderer and a refugee, Aneas

landed on the shores of Carthage without anything but his reputation.

Aneas' suffering continued when he was forced to leave Dido, reminiscent of

the time when Aneas left his family.  Meanwhile, Turnus, the prince of the

Rutilians, was at the top of the hierarchy of Rome; he was greatly

respected by his subjects.  However, "sinister signs from heaven stood in

the way" (Virgil 147). Once Aneas settled on the lands of Latium, and

Allecto instilled the violencia inside Turnus, Turnus' luck embarked on a

downward spiral. The plummet does not end until Turnus is dead at the hands

of Aneas. The triumphant Aneas stands over the fallen, tragic Turnus.

 

      In a world where conformity was rewarded, and free will was

abolished, the devout Aneas sacrificed his mind and heart for the gods;

leaving true love and true understanding behind in Carthage. As a result,

an empire was erected for the "ruthless" gods.

 

Works Cited and Consulted:

Camps, W. A. An Introduction to Homer. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1980.

Goodrich, Norma. Myths of the hero. New York: Orion Press, 1962.

Harrison, S. J. Vergil, Aeneid. With Introduction, Translation, and Commentary. Oxford. 1991.

Homer: Iliad. Trans. Stanley Lombardo. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Co., 1994.

MacKay, L. "Hero and Theme in the Aeneid." TAPA 94 (1963) 157-166.

 


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