Greek and Roman Literature

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Many works in the earliest days of Greek and Roman literature focused primarily on the military aspect of life. Through battles, vivid descriptions of armor and other battle utilities, and specific actions regarding wartime affairs, timeless authors were able to characterize their heroes, as well as enhance the plotline. Two of the great works of all time, Homer’s The Iliad and Virgil’s The Aeneid, are no exception, as both tales used detailed descriptions of shields and battle actions to both characterize the heroes and to further develop the story. Virgil, 800 years after Homer had written his greatest works, clearly chooses to model The Aeneid off of him. While Homer chose to focus his works primarily on warfare as it pertains to traditional warrior code, Virgil decided to focus on how war created the vast empire that is Rome, a much more political stance. Virgil literally took a character from Homer, and using methods such as the description of the main character’s shield, and allowing deception to play a key role in significant events, he tells his own story in a very similar way. Given how influential and significant warfare was during the time of both the Greeks and the Romans, it only seemed fitting that military technology played such a large role in the meaning behind each story.

One method Homer used to exemplify traditional warrior code in The Iliad was by means of deception: a warrior would be forced into epic deeds due a terrible misleading. Take for example, the tale of Bellerophon. As Homer described him on line 159 in Book 6, he was “A man of grace and courage by gift of the gods.” His heavenly aura attracted Anteia, wife of Proteus, King of Argos. When Anteia asked Bellerophon to sleep with her, he declined, due to his “virtuous and wise” demeanor. Out of spite, Anteia asked her husband to kill Bellerophon, falsely accusing him of forcing sex upon her. Instead, Bellerophon was sent to Lycia, home of Anteia’s father, where he was...
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