The Aeneid and the Glory of Rome

Between 43 and 32 BC Rome was split up through the second triumvirate upon the death of Caesar. The triumvirate was a way to split the military and political power because the senate feared that they would once again fall under a dictatorship, which is the ultimate reason Julius Caesar was murdered. Civil war broke out in Rome between the Octavian and Mark Antony, but Antony was defeated in 31 BC in the battle at Actium (Joe). Octavian, later renaming himself Augustus, was the emperor in Rome, a city with a new beginning. With his new power Augustus reorganized the military and political power.
He also began to design a program to create buildings like those in Athens (Joe). Perhaps his most notable achievement was commissioning Virgil to write, The Aeneid. Virgil, born October 19 in 70 BC, was and still is regarded as the best poet in Rome (“Virgil”). As a citizen in Rome Virgil felt a sense of relief when the civil war had ended and like the rest of Rome was extremely grateful to Augustus for making this possible. Augustus wanted to return Rome to their previous traditions and remind the republic of their moral values that were once highly regarded.
These values included bravery, family devotion, duty, and responsibility. Virgil wanted to model his epic poem after those that were so famous in Greek literature, The Iliad and The Odyssey and also present Aeneas as the ideal Roman citizen (“Virgil”). In his epic poem Virgil tells the story of Aeneas and his journey from Troy to Italy, where he was destined to found Rome (Sparknote Editors). The glorification of Rome is shown throughout the story of Aeneas. Virgil begins his story introducing Aeneas and exemplifying the moral value of duty when he says, “I sing of warfare and a man at war.

From the sea-coast of Troy in early days He came to Italy by destiny, To our Lavinian western shore, A fugitive, this captain, buffeted Till he could found a city and bring home His gods to Laetium, land of the Latin race, The Alban lords, and the high walls of Rome. Tell me the causes now, O Muse, how galled… To undergo so many perilous days and enter on so many trials. Can anger black as this prey on the minds of heaven (Virgil 930)? ” These lines discuss his journey that is his destiny.
Virgil’s usage of the phrases “bring home” and “his gods” are representative of Aeneas’ duty and responsibility to Rome and the Roman Gods. “To undergo so many perilous days and enter on so many trials,” shows how Aeneus will make this journey no matter how hard it may be. Another moral displayed in The Aeneid is family devotion and duty. In book two Virgil describes Aeneas’s departure from Troy with his father on his back, “Did you suppose, my father, That I could tear myself away and leave you? Unthinkable; how could a father say it? Now if it pleases the powers about that nothing.
Stand of this great city; if your heart Is set on adding your own death and ours To that of Troy, the door’s wide open for it. ” This quote shows how dutiful Aeneas is to his father Anchises because he would not leave his father and would do anything to get him to safety. An example that is a little more extreme in promoting the glory of Rome comes in book IV when Virgil writes, “Roman, remember by your strength to rule Earth’s peoples—for your arts are to be these: To pacify, to impose the rule of law, To spare the conquered, battle down the proud” (Virgil ).
This is from the speech that Anchises gives Aeneas and Virgil uses this as a way to voice the values that he thinks Rome should stand on. The speech can be labeled as propaganda and is one of the first clear examples of propaganda in the epic poem. Another clear example of propaganda comes in Book IIV when Vulcan makes the shield of Aeneas. On this shield is a scene of the Battle at Actium and Augustus is depicted conquering Cleopatra. This leaves the impression on readers that Augustus was the clear victor in the battle and his ideals and rule shall be the one that Rome follows.
To understand if The Aeneid is written as propaganda you first need to recognize what propaganda is. As listed in the Merriam-Webster dictionary propaganda is, “ideas, facts, or allegations spread deliberately to further one’s cause or to damage an opposing cause. ” Following this definition the author of this paper believes that The Aeneid is propaganda. The first reason this epic poem is propaganda is because Augustus wanted to tell the story, so he appointed Virgil to write the story and set the standards for the style it was to be written in.
The only line that is unclear is who is actually telling the story. It is never mentioned in history whether Augustus told Virgil what to say or if these are the ideals and opinions of Virgil himself. The example given about the depiction of the Battle of Actium on Aeneas’ shield directly follows the definition of propaganda because it is showing the battle which is fact, but skews it to be in the favor of Augustus. It also helps to damage the opposing cause of the Triumvirate and helps to unify Rome. This story is also propaganda because of the traits seen in Aeneas.
Aeneas displays all of the qualities that Augustus and the Roman people believe Romans should have. These qualities include the moral values of responsibility, duty, family devotion, and bravery. Augustus was extremely smart in his appointing Virgil to write the epic poem The Aeneid. It set out exactly what he intended it to do, which was to follow the Greek format of The Odyssey to give Romans their own story. It glorified Rome and was propaganda in the ideals and facts that were spread to further Rome’s cause.

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