University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Aeneas and Jesus
Roman ideal of pietas which Virgil’s Aeneas embodies the observance of what is due to the gods and men, and obeying one’s destiny (fate) or calling. In Virgil’s The Aeneid, Aeneas has no choice but to be devoted to the gods, while Jesus in The New Testament choices freely to be devoted to one god. Religion for the Romans was very tied up in ideas of obligations, not only to the gods, but to one’s family and nation as well. Aeneas preserves his sanity and the lives of his men, by stopping his own anxieties and desires to the demands of fate and the rules of piety. Religion in The Aeneid also involves making sacrifices and prayers to the gods.
The idea was if you did that, the gods might like you and help you. The thing is they might also ignore you and mess up your life for no reason. Thus, when Aeneas tells Dido, “I sail for Italy not of my own free will,” he doesn’t mean that his fate is forcing him to go there. He means that he has an obligation (duty) to go there, which he is choosing to live up to. On the other hand, Jesus believes in one god. Jesus is completely devoted to his God and goes around teaching society about how good his God is. In the New Testament, Jesus has people or a following fully committed and devoted to God.
The four Gospels describe Jesus’s life until his resurrection, and the remainder of the New Testament concerns itself with the community of followers of Jesus that steadily grows after his death. Concluding, Aeneas and Jesus are two different characters who have given their devotion to their own Gods. It was Aeneas’s piety or duty to carry his family with him to follow his devotion to the Gods. In contrast, Jesus uses his free will to teach us to follow his God. Aeneas has to sacrifice his free will to devote to his Gods because it is his fate while Jesus sacrifices himself voluntarily. ?