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Classics | Modern Languages


Ray Larson


Dark, dire images pervade the Aeneid, and the epic poem's final lines are decidedly unsettling. Through his images and symbols, Virgil depicts a conflict within Aeneas, and he seems to deliberately resolve it in a way that leaves his reader disquieted. Aeneas' conflict, like Achilles' inner struggle in the Iliad, is as a semi-divine hero, born of a goddess and a mortal man, torn between his mortal and divine sides, and it can been seen as the human conflict between body and spirit. In resolving this heroic, and indeed human, conflict, Virgil shows his hero darkly acquiescing to his divine side in the Aeneid's abrupt ending, whereas Homer chose to depict Achilles reconciling his divine and mortal nature, albeit with a sense of melancholy, in the closing books of the Iliad.