In Book I of the Aeneid, the hero Aeneas is presented as a new kind of hero, one motivated by duty. Compare Aeneas to either Achilles, Odysseus, or Gilgamesh, who do what they please and often get the gods to aid them. Why are the such different sorts of heroes? How does Aeneas compare with Hector or Moses? Use specific examples from the texts to support your ideas.
Compare Calypso and Circe in the Odyssey (Books V and X) to Dido in the Aeneid (Books I and IV). Concentrate on how they delay the hero’s journey. What are the similarities and differences? Explain and support your ideas using specific examples form the texts.
Compare Aeneas’ journey to the underworld with that of either Gilgamesh or Odysseus. In what ways are they similar or different? Using specific examples from the text make an interesting point about this comparison.
In Book IV of the Aeneid Dido falls in love with and is then abandoned by Aeneas. As a result she commits suicide. Using a careful analysis of the text, who would you say is responsible for these events? Is Aeneas? Venus? Juno? Or even Dido herself? In the course of your analysis, determine how sympathetic the reader is supposed to be toward Dido? Or Aeneas?
Fate is a crucial concept in the Aeneid. Look for places in the text were it is mentioned and discuss what you think Virgil meant by “fate.” Do you think his concept of fate is like other uses of fate in our readings? Is this a uniquely Stoic idea? Why do you think Virgil uses fate as a prominent theme? Use specific passages from the text(s) to support your ideas.
Compare the ideas of how to be a good person that you find in the Aeneid with those from some of the philosopher’s we have discussed (Plato, Aristotle, and the Epicureans). If you are especially motivated, compare the ideals in the Aeneid with the ideals espoused in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Use specific textual references to support your ideas.
Violence and rage play a prominent role in the Aeneid. Explore the importance (both good and bad) of violence or rage as it has been used in this and other texts we have discussed. For example, the Oresteia discusses the necessity and horror of violence when carrying out justice; how does this compare with violence in the Aeneid? How does the ancient treatment of violence compare with contemporary views?