Comparing Humanity In Aeneid And Ovid's Hero

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Heroism and Humanity in Virgil’s Aeneid and Ovid’s Heroides Understanding human identity is a complex process that must exam the human capacity to think and act independently— individual agency. In this process, one discovers that external factors such as gender affect how human capacity is viewed. And through this, a question of heroism arises: What is truly heroic, to ignore human desires or to follow them? This question is addressed in many literary works as philosophers and authors struggle to define humanity and heroism in an ever changing world. Contrasting understandings of human identity emerge in two works from Augustan Rome— book four of Virgil’s Aeneid and “Dido to Aeneas” in Ovid’s Heroides. They provide an interesting look into…show more content…
Because she becomes lovesick, her people and her city suffer. “Her towers rise no more; the young of Carthage no longer exercise at arms or build their harbors for sure battlements for war;” (4.113-115). Dido’s affections are her downfall. Though she knows Aeneas must leave, she chooses to ignore that fate and try to convince him to stay. When Dido cannot make Aeneas stay, she becomes maddened by fate. She pleads with the gods, curses Aeneas, and calls out for him to suffer and for her own death. Her passion, her love, brings her nothing but destruction. As Dido curses Aenaes, the god Mercury warns him of the threat.
 You soon will see the waters churned by wreckage,
 ferocious torches blaze, and beaches flame,
 if morning finds you lingering on this coast.
 Be on your way. Enough delays. An ever
 uncertain and inconstant thing is woman. (4.783-788)
In this way, Virgil argues that women in particular are dangerous because they are emotional and let their passions lead them, implying that men should put passions aside in order to lead. According to the Aeneid, for people in positions of power, as well as for the average person, allowing personal desires to affect their actions will lead to the

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