Example research essay topic: Critical Analysis Of Virgil’s Aeneid – 1,808 words

In The Aeneid, Virgil uses many prophecies. They
begin in the first few lines and last throughout
the poem. Many are directed toward Aeneas, but
some are to his relatives and friends. The
prophecies shown allow the reader to better
understand the situation and also provide insight
about Rome. Prophecies are an important key to The
Aeneid. Prophecies are very important to Virgils
The Aeneid.

Early on, Virgil does not hide what
will happen, but instead, he allows the reader
insight through many prophecies. In the first few
lines, Juno makes the statement that generations
born of Trojan blood would one day overthrow her
Tyrian walls. (32). In predicting this, she allows
us, the reader, to understand that all of the
characters knows what is happening and it is just
a matter of time before the Trojans will take over
Carthage. The prophecy Virgil projects through
Juno is not only a prophecy seen in the book, but
Virgil also wants the reader to acknowledge that
this prophecy is a representation of what will
happen to Rome in the future. Also in Book I,
still very near the beginning, another prophecy is
seen.

During the storm (128), Aeneas is
remembering all of the people he knew that died in
the battle. He begins to pray for all of them and
he asks why his life was not taken too. Aeneas
wonders why all of the strong warriors died and
his life was spared. Just as he is questioning
this great mystery, another gust of wind takes
many of the remaining ships under. Aeneas becomes
even more confused because his ship is one of the
only ones left on the sea. He is wondering why the
gods are protecting him.

Then Neptune, god of the
sea, appears and questions Aeneas thinking asking,
Are you so sure your line is privileged? in line
181. Neptune warns Aeneas saying, youll pay a
stricter penalty for your sins. (186). This
statement made by Neptune provides much insight.
Aeneas realizes that there is some reason that he
is being protected, but he is still unclear about
exactly why his life was spared. Aeneas is also
being warned about the future. His first instinct
as he realized he was being saved may have been
that he is going to do great things in the future,
but when Neptune continues with his warning,
Aeneas realizes this is not the case.

He sees that
his future is destined and there is nothing he can
do to change it. His fate is predetermined. His
privileged line began with his father, will
continue through his son, and eventually lead to
Julius Caesar. Also, the stricter penalty could be
that he may think his life is difficult, but if he
does not do as he is told, all of his future
relatives will pay the price. After all this has
taken place, Neptune disappears, the storm calms,
and the sunlight returns. Later, Jupiter sends a
prophecy to Venus.

In line 310, still in book one,
she appeared, crying and confessed all of her
fears. She knows that he is very powerful, in
fact, the supreme god, and wants him to protect
her and their family. After listening, Jupiter
remains calm, kissed her, and assures her there is
no need to be afraid. (347). In line 349, he shows
the prophecy saying, As promised, you shall see
Laviniums walls and take up, then, amid the stars
of heaven great-souled Aeneas. Jupiter tells Venus
that Aeneas will fight a great battle and lead the
way for his son, Ascanius, who will also become a
great hero.

This line of heros will continue until
Caesar is born and then the fighting will end.
This prophecy is Virgils way of incorporating the
history of Rome in the Aeneid. Virgil is able to
use the history of Rome in predicting the future
of Aeneas. While Aeneas is visiting the
Underworld, more prophecy about the future of Rome
is seen. Aeneas father, Anchises speaks to Aeneas
and tells him of all the great accomplishments of
Rome that will happen because of Aeneas great
beginning. Anchises tells a story predicting the
future of Rome in which a leader won a battle and
dedicated the win, To Father Romulus who was also
a descendant of Aeneas. To stress the fact that it
was not uncommon, Anchises says that it was the
third time that a victory has been dedicated to
his descendants.

Through his prophecy, Anchises
assures Aeneas that he must continue with his
journey in order to secure the future line of
descendants. Virgil sends his prophecies in many
different ways. There is not one specific
individual that shows the prophecy throughout The
Aeneid, but rather many. Some prophecies are sent
through spoken conversation, but some, such as
Junos storm, are sent in other ways. No matter how
they appear, Virgil uses them all the same: to
envision future comings. Virgils prophecies not
only add interest, but they also give insight into
The Aeneid and Rome.

1. What is the function of
the major prophecies in the Aeneid? 2. How does
Aeneas adventure in the underworld prepare him for
the second half of the Aeneid? (Be sure to discuss
the significant stages of his descent, the shades
he meets, the manner of his exit, etc.) Aeneas
journey to the underworld as a turning point in
the poem. Prior to his journey to the underworld,
Aeneas still seems somewhat oblivious to his fate.
At Troy he has to be reminded that he must flee
with the household gods; at Carthage he must be
coaxed by Mercury to leave Dido for Italy. [THESE
TWO EPISODES ARE CITED NOT SIMPLY TO SUMMARIZE THE
PLOT, BUT TO SUPPORT THE AUTHORS POINT: AENEAS WAS
OBLIVIOUS TO HIS FATE] At first glance, it might
seem that Aeneas wants to go to the underworld to
see his father for encouragement, or just because
he misses him. I think Virgil uses the trip to
show Aeneas (and the reader) the true meaning of
his destiny.

[THE AUTHOR MAKES AN IMPORTANT
DISTINCTION HERE BETWEEN THE POSSIBLE MOTIVES OF
THE CHARACTER, AENEAS, AND THOSE OF THE AUTHOR,
VIRGIL. THAT SHOWS A MORE SOPHISTICATED READING OF
THE POEM] By showing Aeneas the heroes of Rome in
the underworld in such a dramatic way, he helps
Aeneas fully develop into the Stoic Roman hero
that he must become. Aeneas must sacrifice his own
wants and wishes to become the father of the
Romans. [THE AUTHOR AT LEAST ALLUDES TO SEVERAL
IMPORTANT ISSUES DISCUSSED IN CLASS AND
HIGHLIGHTED IN THE PROCOPY PACKET: THE MAKING OF A
ROMAN HERO, THE THEME OF SACRIFICE, AND AENEAS
ROLE AS FATHER OF THE ROMAN PEOPLE] The journey to
the underworld is also an opportunity for Virgil
to comment on the heroes of Rome for the reader,
heroes that would have been contemporary to the
reader, such as Augustus and his nephew. Aeneas is
shown all who have sacrificed and died for Rome.
The tone is a little mysterious as Aeneas and the
Sibyl leave through the ivory gate which is not
for true shades; it is for false dreams. This
ending is a little ambiguous, but Aeneas does
emerge as Father and Roman in a more solidified
role for the rest of the poem.

Aeneas journey to
the underworld served to highlight three main
points in the Aeneid. [THIS GIVES THE ESSAY A
CLEAR ORGANIZATION AROUND IMPORTANT ISSUES, AND
THE FIRST TWO OF THE AUTHORS POINTS WILL BE
SUPPORTED WITH REFERENCES TO SPECIFIC EVENTS IN
THE POEM] First, it was a historical reference to
battles past and present, and a testament to the
losses of life for Romes rise to power. As Aeneas
walks through the underworld, we can see the
continuation of his line and hear how Rome will
conquer, but the boy who dies before his time is
Virgils way of reminding us that such victories
have a price. This is the price that Aeneas
helmsman paid when he lost his life for their safe
passage. Secondly, Aeneas journey shows the human
side of Aeneas with all of his vulnerabilities.
Aeneas needs the comforting of his father. He
cries when he sees Dido and realizes that she
killed herself.

This trip also convinces Aeneas of
his destiny. It has been pointed out that Aeneas
needs a little more explanation than some. Lastly,
the trip into the underworld can be seen as a
literary tool to give the audience a quick
synopsis of what has happened, bring them into the
present, and give them a quick glimpse of Aeneas
future. It is the perfect bridge between the
wanderings of Aeneas and his acceptance of his
fate. Once his path is finally accepted, Aeneas
battles for what he considers to be rightfully his
and his heirs: Rome. .

When Aeneas descends into
the Underworld, he is escorted by the Sibyl (lines
347 – 349). As Aeneas enters the Underworld, he
sees numerous horrible sights: Grief, Disease, Old
Age, Fear, Hunger, and several others. (Lines 356
– 379) These unsettling and dark words bring
difficult images to the reader’s mind. These lines
foretell that there will be difficulties while
Rome is in its infancy through phrases like
“lonely night” and “phantom kingdom”. Rome did
indeed have difficulties in its infancy; in the
7th and 6th centuries BCE it was ruled by Etruscan
kings and was only “… a little hill town.”
(Short Histories, p20) Lines 390 through 549 in
The Aeneid deal with the crossing of the River
Styx.

This represents a great transition period in
Rome. It symbolizes the founding of the Republic.
The multitude of rushing and swarming people (Line
402) represents those that suffered the “internal
turmoil” in the early stages of the Republic.
(Short Histories, p21) When Aeneas mentions, “…
and by what rule must some keep off the bank …”
(Lines 419 – 421) he may symbolically be referring
to the “Struggle of the Orders” that the early
Republic experienced. (Short Histories, p22) As
Aeneas wanders through the Underworld, he notices
Dido wandering about. (Lines 593 – 626) He tries
to talk to her, but his words serve no purpose;
she flees from him. He then sees the souls of
those who died in battle. (Lines 628 – 650) These
lines correspond to the Punic Wars that occurred
from 264 to 146 BCE (Short Histories, pg.

24 – 26)
because Aeneas offended, and arguably caused the
death of, Dido when he left Carthage where he
lived with Dido. (The Aeneid Book IV, line 300) In
lines 738 – 832 Aeneas beholds the fortress
Tartarus and its inhabitants who are being beaten
and whipped. This gruesome scene can be related to
Julius Caesar’s death. The tormented souls could
represent the enemies of Caesar. “Caesar had
spared the lives of many of his most famous
enemies…” (Short Histories, p33) These enemies
rose up and slew him for his kindness. The “Tyrant
– Slayers” (Short Histories, p34) were soon
embattled in war for their unpopular attack..

Research essay sample on Critical Analysis Of Virgils Aeneid