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Jason Schlude


This essay intends to comparatively analyze Vergil’s Aeneid and Saint Augustine’s Confessions to examine the shifting perspectives of grief throughout the ancient Mediterranean as the official Roman religion transitioned from Roman Paganism to Christianity following the Edict of Milan in 313 AD. Funerary customs and traditions presented in both the Aeneid and the Confessions provide one mode of insight to explain how expressions of grief evolved over time. The other direction offered in these primary texts includes depictions of the afterlife itself. Vergil and Saint Augustine both served as heralds of their respective eras—the Augustan and Christian eras—and can therefore serve as representatives for the viewpoints within their communities. I deduce that the novel Christian eschatological beliefs, reduced Christian interest in worldly desire, and newfound Christian hope in reunification with one sole Divinity and loved ones in the afterlife proved especially influential in accounting for the shifting disposition and expression of grief throughout the ancient Mediterranean.

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