The Aeniad: Aeneas and Mezentius

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Aeneas and Mezentius

Book ten of The Aeneid incorporates varied similes on the heroic figures of Aeneas and Mezentius. These similes further illustrate to its audience the character and nature of Aeneas and Mezentius. Lines 778 to 783 offers an epic simile of Aeneas, “Just as Aegaeon, who had a hundred arms and hands-they say-and fire burning from his fifty mouths and chests, when he clanged at Jove’s thunderbolts with his fifty shields, each one just like the other, and drew as many swords, so does Aeneas rage on, victorious, across the field…”[1] Aegaeon was one of the three “hundred handed” monsters who were superior to the Titans, yet fought on their side against the Olympians in Greek mythology. Virgil likens Aeneas to one of these ferocious creatures when he is on the battlefield because his skill and swiftness with the sword makes him a vicious warrior. Also, in comparing him to a creature stronger than a titan who fought against Olympians reveals on the relationship between Aeneas and the gods. Aeneas is fighting now so that he may found Rome as the gods and Fate have destined him to, however he did not embark upon founding Rome when the gods wanted him to. In the act of delaying he exerted the power of his free will and in sense fought against the gods and fate. Mezentius is compared to a rock in line 947, “ Just like a rock that juts into a waste of waters, bare to maddened winds and naked to the breakers, taking the force and menace both of heaven and of the seas, while it persists, unmoved; such is Mezentius.”[2] Mezentius unlike the swift, many handed Aeneas, is a sturdy unbreakable power. He cannot be moved no matter what assails him, he stronger than all he confronts. This same idea of Mezentius’ incredible inner strength manifested as a warrior is shown in the epic simile in line 970, “Just as a boar that for long years, found shelter within Mount Vesulus’ pine forests or among the marshlands of Laurentum, where he pastured...
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