Virgil on War
Virgil does not merely use the notion of war to further his plot but deals with many types and aspects of war throughout the poem, mythological wars; recent wars; their effects; their causes; and often we can notice Virgin’s own opinion on such a matter, subtly merged into the thick of things. However In contrast to Homer’s Iliad It could be argued that Vigil has actually portrayed war as a negative thing, as he stresses the negative consequences of war, the loss that it entails and moreover talks about it in a way which does not promote the heroism that we see in other epic poems.
The first example of this negative portrayal of war from Virgil would come from the Ended especially in Book X. In this book we witness one concept which the poet commonly addresses, the loss f young men in battle before they have the chance to even reach manhood. An example of this would be the character of Palls who we see being killed by Turns In this book, the way that the poets puts this death Is that young men try to be heroes after their first taste of battle which often leads to
In this book we see how he steps in to help save his father from Names, by acting in this ;heroic” way he managed to get himself killed at such a young age. From this portrayal of war the readers would see It In a negative light as the reader Is able to see the madness that possesses young men during war. The second point to make about Virgin’s portrayal of war would be the way In which peoples characters can change in war when they are taken away by the ;red mist’ which results in them making actions which they later regret.
An example of this which can be connected to my previous point would be the character of Names, so far during the poem we would characterize him as the pious and weary worrier. However during his conflict tit Amusement, Names Is taken over by ruthlessness and unrelenting anger which causes him to kill Luaus without consideration for his opponent’s age. Having seen Enema’s reaction later in this book we understand that he regretted the decision that he made and wept for what he had done.
From this example we could argue that Virgil portrays this ‘madness’ in a negative light as the battle rage can change people and make them do terrible things. The third example of the negative way in which Virgil portrays war in the Ended would be the choice that young people make to live r die when considering their own reputation. An example of this would be in book XII when the Queen Matt tries to persuade Turns not to fight Against Names as he would surely be killed.
However very similarly to Hectors choice to face Achilles, Turns makes his reputation his priority and decides to go to his death. The importance that reputation and time plays in the poem, although heroic in its own way, seems to be a negative thing for the amount of lives that were lost trying to gain reputation. Criticize war throughout the Ended would be from the way in which he portrayed the appending of war at the beginning of the second help of the epic.
An example of this would be a quote from the passage in book VII when the poet says ‘Bring in all memory to the singer’s mind, for I must tell of wars to chill the blood”, from this quote we could say that although all books of the poem following VII are based on warfare Virgil had no desire to talk about war in a positive or heroic way. For this reason I would conclude this half of the essay by saying that the poet of the Ended makes an effort to damn war and its effects. On the other hand it could also be argued that Virgil in fact portrays war in a positive way, portraying all the heroes of poem in a glamorous way.
We see in some of the war scenes of the book many of the battles have the old style heroism to them which fills the reader with admiration for them. An example of this would be in book 11 of the Ended in which we witness the character Turns show signs of heroism in the form that we found it in the Iliad with character such as Hector. When losing the battle Junco swept Turns away from the battle onto a ship, when this happened he let like he had disgraced himself and tried to throw himself of the ship to kill himself.
From this we can notice the heroic type of characteristics which we have missed so far in the Ended which causes the reader to admire the character of Turns and make us forget everything about Virgin’s negative attitude towards warfare in the Ended. Moving on to the next example we can see how in book XSL Virgil makes an important statement about war which applies for the Roman Empire when the epic was written. When going down to the underworld Names sought his ether for advice on how to continue his search for a new settlement in which to start his kingdom.
His father Machines told him that ;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. ” From this quotation we can understand what Virgin’s attitude towards war is, an interpretation of this would be that although war is horrible and wrong, it is also necessary to ensure that peace is kept within an Empire. This would make me argue that Virgil is actually pro-war to he extent that it helps benefit the greater population.
The final example which would make an argument that Virgil is completely against war would be from the first battle, or war which he describes and dedicates a whole book to. During book two the poet gives us a full account from Enema’s view of how the Greeks managed to sack Troy but also how he managed to escape from the city with the remaining Trojan War refugees. Names describes the many horrific deaths in this reminiscence of the events such as the death of Prism’s son Politest in which he Nominated his life’s blood” n front of his father.
From examples such as this I would argue that instead of condemning war, this brutal account of event in the Trojan War is used to exhibit Virgin’s use of language and ability to follow up on what Homer had started. Overall I would say that Book II would actually portray the Roman Empire in good light because, despite the horrific events which took place, Rome can be linked to what much of the Ancient World believed to be the greatest war of all time. From this point ancestry that the Romans reading this poem would be linked back to.
Overall I would say that because the Ended was written in Augustus honor for establishing peace in the Roman Empire using war, Virgil was under pressure to praise the Roman Empire and all its foundations. However based on what we can see throughout the poem from the poets own voice we can see that he is personally against the concept of war. But to conclude I would say that because the theme of war is so dominant throughout the Ended and so critical to the plot of the epic, I would not say that Virgil uses the Ended as a damning indictment of war.