Odysseus, the hero in The Odyssey, and Aeneas, the hero in The Aeneid, fought in opposing sides in the Trojan war. Odysseus was the king of Ithaca and was arguably the smartest king and warrior in all of Greece, whereas Aeneas was a warrior from Troy whose destiny was to found the Roman race in Italy. While both men were highly acclaimed by their respective countrymen as heroes, they shared many similarities in respect to their background, their virtue and their struggles. However, amidst these similarities Odysseus and Aeneas were very different in their social status, their innate disposition and in the defining characteristics of their quest.
In comparing Odysseus’ and Aeneas’ backgrounds, by far the most striking similarity is that they rivaled each other for the hero status in their respective countries. Odysseus earned his title of hero for the ingenious Trojan horse idea he used to conquer Troy. Just as the war looked all but lost to the Greeks, Odysseus gifts the Trojans with a huge wooden horse with Greek soldiers hiding inside. Once the horse is inside the gates, Odysseus and his men wait until the Trojans are drunk and sleeping after their celebrations, and then emerge and slaughter the Trojans. He was highly praised for this maneuver, although he knew nothing of the tribute because his quest kept him from home for 15 years. Similarly, Aeneas, a great warrior known for being able to motivate his men at any time, was a hero for being the founder of the Roman race. An example of Aeneas’ motivation skills is when he is talking to the Trojan and Latvian army before the battle against all the Rutuli and he says all that he has been through telling them all the dangers he had faced. However, Aeneas struggled in his life as a hero.
It is often said that Aeneas is an unsympathetic hero. But if he makes us uncomfortable, it is perhaps because we understand him all too well. Achilles and Odysseus are... [continues]
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