In the Aeneid, describe Aeneas character as a hero and his motivations.

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Aeneas is an epic hero in this text in the way that it is he who is chosen to found the empire of Rome and to lead the remnants of a once-great civilisation towards a new birth, from Troy to Rome. It is he who is chosen by the gods to perform this role and his prime motivation is to be pious and to obey the will of the gods. This is something that is shown again and again throughout this epic text, but one of the best examples comes when he is in Carthage with Dido, and living a happy life with her, but recognises that he has to leave her and to carry on in his quest towards Rome. Aeneas is a character whose heroism is defined by his piety and his respect towards the gods, and indeed, at many points in the text he is referred to as "pious Aeneas." Note how he presents himself to the huntress he meets in Libya, who is actually his mother, Venus, in disguise:

I am Aeneas, duty-bound, and known
Above high air of heaven by my fame,
Carrying with me in my ships our gods
Of hearth and home, saved from the enemy.
I look for Italy to be my fatherland,
And my descent is from all-highest Jove.

As this quote suggests, his mission and his sense of duty are key components of the identity of Aeneas, and his description of himself as "duty-bound" captures his motivation to fulfil that duty and responsibility. His motivation is therefore expressed in his duty to create a new civilisation in Italy, and his heroism is depicted in his single-minded focus on this goal to the exclusion of all else. Aeneas is a "man with a mission," and he will not let anything stand in his way.