Who is the more heroic: Odysseus or Aeneas? (A comparison of epics) Watch
If its not too much trouble, I was wondering if any of you bright scholars out there would help me with a character comparison
Basically I was looking for help with the theme of heroism, instances where the protagonists appeared heroic or unheroic.
I've been struggling with this and was wondering if any of you could help me out?
Basically as an example of what im doing e.g.
Pros - Odysseus
Bk11 - slaying the deer to feed his party who are emotionally distraught after losing their comrades to the laestrygonians. odysseus is showing compassion for his men here
Cons - Odysseus
Bk9 - he taunts the cyclopes, giving away his true name. Polyphemus then prays to dad and essentially leads to the demise of O's men ('may he reach home alone in a foreign ship' - or something like that )
Anyway there are also loads of instances where Aeneas may appear as a hero or the opposite as well (Virgil obviously borrowing loads).
So i was wondering, as a character study and form of revision for me, who do YOU think is the more heroic? (and if you post an explanation for your choice that would be great)
Greek heroes generally earnt their reputation by fighting, for example Achilles was the perfect Greek hero. But Odysseus earned his 'kleos' through cunning and quick thinking. His ability to esacape Polyphemos shows this.
But I would argue that although both kill at the end of the epics, they retain their heroism. Odysseus kills the suitors who have been terrorising his family and living at his expense. While Aeneas' killing of Turnus may seem cruel, he is justified by the fact that killing Turnus means he can found Rome. Similarly to Odysseus, he is taking revenge for the death of Pallas.
I never considered Odysseys so much of a hero, exactly because he is renowned for his power in mind and not his abilities in war. Far from thinking of him as a great hero, I always thought that he is not that brave or heroic, because he deals with difficulties by carefully planning his actions and by cheating and lying. This isn't what a true hero does. I think the best are Achilles and Hector,who is actually the greatest one of all, because he fought for his family and his Gods even though he knew he didn't stand a chance.
odysseus COULD be heroic, i he had himself to look after to get home, but for aeneas' mission to succede all his men had to survive, so aeneas couldn't take as many risks- he had think about things alot and possibly be indecisive. whereas odysseus was a great individaulist, but aeneas HAD to be a great... socialist
aeneas couldn be heroic like odyseeus, he had to be human, to allow him to be roman. he had to be a relatable character, and odyseus is not relatable.. even though he a good hero
- prowess in battle
- eloquence in speech
Odysseus is the latter, Aeneas the former.
thats my very compact view of the matter.
However they both have major flaws - Odysseus is incredible pig-headed/cocky (the Polyphemus incident) which doesn't help him get home. The Greeks probably wouldn't have registered this as a major flaw though. Aeneas is somewhat too focused on his task and ends up screwing Dido over, and results in her death.
Personally I think Odysseus is more heroic because he never strays from his plan (he could easily have stayed with Circe or Calypso). Whilst Aeneas also does this, with him it's almost an obsession, and I think that hinders him too much to make him truly heroic. His act is in itself a heroic deed, but Ody just pips him to the post for me, he has more dimensions and deserves his title.
That said, I genuinely dislike Odysseus - I think he's arrogant, a poor leader, and rubbish for sleeping with anyone he can on the way.
Another point I thought of - The romans would probably have considered Aeneas more heroic because he, you know, founded the whole of their race.
from a modern perspective, aeneas obviously appears more heroic, but to view it as a person from the 21st century is fairly stupid...considering the change in values etc.