Propaganda In The Aeneid

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The epic Aeneid by Vergil was written during the reign of Emperor Augustus and his formation of the Roman Empire after the Republic. With Augustus at the head of a nation, he desired for his name to be elevated beyond those before him. While traditional means of cementing his legacy in history, such as war and conquered territory occurred for Augustus, he also wanted to prove that his authority was a foundation for governing over the current people. The epic provided that means for Augustus with the help of Vergil. The Aeneid takes a propaganda approach to the political realm by not only solidifying his authority of rule, but also linking his name in history with those heroes that came before him. In addition to the support for Augustus, Vergil…show more content…
Specifically at the end of the epic in the death of Turnus by Aeneas. Throughout the epic, Vergil linked Aeneas with Augustus, both in his actions and in their destiny for Rome. The reader has sympathized with Aeneas at turns and thought of Turnus as his rival. In the end, rather than building Aeneas up as the conquering hero who will bring peace throughout the land, Vergil makes the audience appeal more to Turnus. Turnus pleas for his life to Aeneas with, “You’ve triumphed: the Italians see me asking for mercy, and Lavinia is your wife. Lay down your hatred” (Aeneid 12). In this moment, the reader sees him as this defeated character that has surrendered to the will of Aeneas. He is not hostile. He is not scared. He is simply at peace with the events that have unfolded. The reader should expect Aeneas who has shown piety throughout the epic and has been linked with Augustus to lay down his sword for the future descendants that will follow from both cultures. Vergil at first makes it seem like Aeneas will give mercy to Turnus, he turns and slays him at the sight of Pallas’ belt. Aeneas’ rage overtook him. This hero that has been linked to god-like Augustus let his emotions overtake him for the cause of Turnus’ crime. While this action can be justified, Vergil reveals Aeneas as still human. He still has emotions, just as Augustus still has emotions and is human. Vergil praises Augustus time and time again, but while praise can be given to a man, it is also important to know that the actions of that man are separate. This interpretation shows Vergil’s distaste for rule by force and violence in not just Augustus, but any leader. However, rather than diminishing Augustus’ rule, Vergil enlightens it as Augustus has been able to accomplish everything for
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