From which epic is the title Arms and the Man taken?

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Arms and the Man takes its title from Virgil's Aeneid.

The reference is somewhat ironic because of the difference between George Bernard Shaw's story and Virgil's story. Aeneid is a classical epic with fierce heroes and spectacular battles. It glorifies war and military life. It's the story of the founder of Rome after the events of the Trojan war; the Trojans eventually settle in Italy after difficult battles. The heroes are heroic and the war has a purpose—even if it led to more war.

In Arms and the Man, however, war and heroes are used differently. It's a comedy and a love story with the backdrop of a war. The heroes are comedic figures who are incapable of figuring out their own lives; one is even a deserter from the military. Sergius is stubborn and is often seen as disloyal. The characters aren't romanticized and give the reader a more obviously negative view of war.

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Shaw's work Arms and the Man is derived from the opening line of Virgil's Aeneid. The epic poem which tells the story of Rome's eventual foundation following an exodus of people is a very militaristic work. Virgil openly praises the militarism of the people and discusses their exploits and adventures, lauding them for the amazing feats they have accomplished. This puts it squarely at odds with the modern work by George Bernard Shaw.

In Shaw's play, he explores the lives and experiences of several far more cowardly characters. There are characters who desert the military and others who are completely incompetent in their roles therein. It focuses much more on Romanticism and the relationships these men form—taking a clear approach at he phrase "lovers, not fighters." The title thus constructs a central ironic tension by drawing such a clear parallel and contrast between the men from the Aeneid and the men in this story.

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Arms and the Man comes from Virgil's Aeneid, a famous epic poem about the founding of Rome. Shaw uses the Aeneid's opening line "Of arms [warfare] and the man I sing" ironically. While Virgil celebrates military valor, Shaw comically deflates it and shows would-be romantic soldier "heroes" like Sergius as bumbling and incompetent. The true "hero" of the play is Bluntschli, who climbs into Raina's bedroom one night as he deserts from the army, carrying chocolate rather than bullets in his pockets.

Shaw also puns on the double meaning of "arms." Arms are weapons, but they are also body parts, and lovers embrace using their arms. This is a love story as much as an anti-war play, in which Sergius is engaged to Raina, and the two pretend to have romantic love, but Raina's servant Louka is Sergius's true love. Many times he takes Louka into his "arms" to embrace her when Raina is not around. In the end, the proper lovers get sorted out in this light-hearted, if seriously themed, comedy.

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The title of George Bernard Shaw's play Arms and the Man comes from the first line of Virgil's epic poem, the Aeneid. The first line of the poem in Latin is Arma virumque cano, which is often translated as "Of the arms and the man I sing." Shaw's use of the phrase from the Aeneid is ironic. Whereas Virgil's epic poem glorifies Aeneas's heroic struggles in founding the city of Rome, Shaw mercilessly satirizes the profession of arms.

There's nothing remotely heroic about soldiers in Arms and the Man. As the Swiss mercenary Captain Bluntschli candidly tells Raina, "nine soldiers out of ten are born fools," and Bluntschli's certainly one of them. His cowardice and status as a "chocolate soldier" (a weak soldier incapable of fighting well) presents a stark contrast to the super-human heroism of Aeneas. Shaw's characterization of the hapless Bluntschli is entirely in keeping with the play's stridently anti-war theme.

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