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

In the Aeneid, Aeneas is a hero because he is absolutely dedicated to his country and his people and always remains true to his responsibilities. Aeneas has been charged by the gods with a very important responsibility, namely to found the city that will one day become Rome. Aeneas’s primary motivation is to bring glory and honor to his people, which greatly adds to the luster of his heroism.

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There can be little doubt that Aeneas fulfills all of the criteria for an ancient hero. Strong, intelligent, wise, and utterly devoted to duty, Aeneas is the epitome of what a hero looks like, or at least what a hero would’ve looked to ancient Romans. We already know at the beginning that Aeneas is a hero for having fought bravely—albeit on the wrong side—during the epic Trojan War. Aeneas may not have been on the winning side, but at least he acquitted himself bravely on the field of battle. His selflessness in helping his family to safety from the burning city of Troy further burnishes his reputation as a hero before he’s even set foot on his epic journey.

It is the gods’ will that Aeneas should found the city that will one day be Ancient Rome. The very fact that Aeneas has been chosen to fulfill such a destiny is a further indication of his heroic status. Clearly, the gods would not have chosen just anyone to take on such an onerous task.

Once he’s set off on his epic voyages, Aeneas displays his heroism on many occasions. The most significant of these would be his abandonment of Queen Dido of Carthage, the woman who loves him more than anything else in the world. On the face of it, this may not seem like especially heroic behavior. In fact, one could be forgiven for regarding Aeneas’s actions as somewhat cruel. However, Aeneas is still displaying heroic virtues in ditching Dido because it shows his overriding commitment to his divine mission. It shows, above all else, his complete loyalty and absolute devotion to his people and to the enormous task at hand.

Founding Rome will not just bring glory to Aeneas’s name—no mean consideration for a hero—but also to future generations of Romans. This, more than anything else, is what motivates Aeneas.

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Aeneas is a classic epic hero in that he represents traits idealized by Ancient Roman culture.

Firstly, he is a man who prioritizes his duty to his people above his own personal interests. He foregoes comfort and pleasure for struggle in order to fulfill his destiny and best serve his people.

The most well-known example of this trait comes into play during his love affair with Dido, Queen of Carthage. Though his feelings for Dido are strong, Aeneas knows he cannot stay in Carthage as her consort. He must find a place for the Trojans and establish Rome, as this is his destiny. His steadfastness to his people is contrasted with Dido's selfishness: she kills herself when Aeneas breaks off their relationship, leaving her people without a ruler.

Secondly, Aeneas is devoted to his family. When fleeing Rome, he carries his elderly father on his shoulders and has his young son by the hand. He grieves his lost wife. Being the son of Venus, he is especially pious and shows true reverence for the gods on several occasions. He seeks divine guidance often. This filial devotion also extends to his people as a whole, for whom he gives up a great deal.

Ultimately, Aeneas is the ideal Roman hero: loyal to his people and his gods and determined to see his mission through to the bitter end, no matter what he must sacrifice in order to do so.

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Aeneas was the son of Anchises—a cousin of King Priam of Troy—and the goddess Aphrodite. This combination of royal and divine parentage is typical of ancient heroes, making them larger-than-life figures bridging the gap between divine and human. It also means that their actions are watched over by the gods and likely to affect the course of entire peoples or kingdoms rather than just a small circle of friends.

Aeneas mourns the fall of Troy and the death of his wife Creusa. His main motivation is that the gods commanded him to escape the fall of Troy and search for a new home for the Trojans. He repeatedly consults oracles and follows their advice. As befits the son of a goddess, he is strongly motivated by piety and a desire to fulfill the will of the gods. Another major motivation is his loyalty to Troy and the Trojans he leads, something that causes him to pursue the quest to found a new Troy in Italy. This dedication to a pious goal and to his duty makes him a hero.

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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.

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