Describe the character of Aeneas in The Aeneid.
Throughout this text, Aeneas is presented as primarily a character who is defined by his piety. This is the reason why he was selected to survive the siege of Troy and to found Rome, becoming the forefather of that illustrious empire. In many epics, characters are normally defined by one governing trait or characteristic. For example, in Homer's Iliad, Odysseus is described as "wily" and "canny" in his ability to come up with cunning tricks and disguises that advance his cause. In the same way, Aeneas is a character who is associated throughout this entire epic with piety. Note how he introduces himself in Book I:
The good Aeneas am I call'd--a name,
While Fortune favor'd, not unknown to fame.
My household gods, companions of my woes,
With pious care I rescued from our foes.
His piety is expressed both towards the gods, as shown in this quote, but also towards his elders and betters, as indicated in his refusal to leave his father to die in Troy as narrated in Book II. He demonstrates perfect filial piety in his determination to bear his father, Anchises, on his back as he flees the city whilst it is burning around them. Aeneas therefore is a character who is presented as honourable and pious, having correct and proper relationships with both other mortals and the gods. It is this that makes him such a perfect choice to be the future founder of Rome.