Monday, April 16, 2007

Stoic or Epicurean?

According to Stoic philosophy, “A Stoic is portrayed as a man struggling against or following unwillingly the fate which may involve his own suffering or sorrow, but which will form part of the total good” (Reesor 289). This thought is true of Aeneas, as mentioned in my last post, specific to his actions in Book 4 with Dido. However, at the same time, while in Carthage, we see Aeneas struggles with yearning a life of peace, love and happiness (what most humans hope for). This thought is part of the Epicurean philosophical belief that the highest pleasure is that of peace and tranquility. As a result, Aeneas struggles between conflicting inner desires, representing, like already mentioned, stoic thought, but in this case also Epicurean thought.

My focus at this time is finding how these moral philosophies affect Aeneas' trajectory toward fulfilling his fate.

I am also using the same ancient greek philosophies as mentioned above to look at the Nisus and Euryalis episode. I have come across the Aristotelian term-- "akrasia" as it relates to 'weakness of will' or self-surrender. This expands on the actions these characters take
when faced with a crucial decisions/events--are they acting on emotions/passions--against their better judgement?

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Follow where reason leads...

The love episode of Dido and Aeneas is an important one in the Aeneid because the main force pulling Aeneas out of the relationship is his duty to found Rome. This force is embedded in ancient Rome’s influence from Greek Stoic philosophy. The ancient meaning of the stoics stresses the rule "follow where reason leads.” And this is what Aeneas does when he decides not to pursue his love for Dido and instead leave. In this case, Aeneas gives up a chance at a new love and also causes Dido to suffer. If Aeneas were to surrender his love to Dido, then he would not meet his goal or ,in this case, his destiny. By subduing his true emotions, Aeneas is exemplifying the stoic hero.

Later, we find that Aeneas will marry a woman he does not love, but he will marry her becasuse it is will serve the plan.


Friday, March 9, 2007

In great works of mythological and legendary literature, we read of characters aspiring to acts of fame and bravery. These characters are the heroes, knights, and warriors. They share similar characteristics, which are to be courageous, well-known, well-trained for battle, well-armored, and to be of service to his country or people, to name a few. Some of these characters that come to mind are: Achilles, Hector, Odysseus, and even Don Quixote because his aspirations of becoming a famous knight are persistent. Through DQ’s references we learn heroic rhetoric and of many heroic characters, for example, King Arthur, El Cid, Orlando Furioso. These characters aspire to or are gifted with heroic qualities. With shield and sword and fighting off monsters, dragons or windmills (perceived to be giants), the heroic courage and passion is present. Where does that leave Aeneas? Although Aeneas is a Trojan fighter, these images are hardly represented in his actions. We do notice; however, his interest in fighting right after the burning of Troy, yet he is told that he must not fight because it is best for the future of his community. Aeneas represents a hero of another kind; his heroic actions are reflected on his duty to serve others.
To be continued...

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Research Proposal

Research question:
The concept of fate is the main theme found in Homer and Virgil’s work. In Virgil’s The Aeneid, as soon as we read line one, we are presented with the notion of fate: “Wars and a man I sing—an exile driven on by Fate, …”(47). Aeneas, the protagonist, is the man who is driven by fate. It is god’s will for Aeneas to establish Rome.
In comparing Aeneas to Hector, a heroic warrior in Homer’s The Iliad, who is also fated by the gods, how does the duty/role of fate affect the perception of the individual/hero? How does he act in response to the heroic duty that has been issued to him by the gods?
Statement of Interest:
My interest in this topic developed after reading the Dido and Aeneas scene in book IV. A lasting love connection would have been favorable for both; however, as the scene unrolls the outcome becomes much bigger than individual choice. Dido and Aeneas’ love affair comes with many attachments and it bothers me that Dido and Aeneas are not able to make their own decisions. The gods’ interference plays a big role in this scene because their actions cause disturbing consequences. In a blink of an eye, Aeneas, who shows to be filled with love, is quick to abandon Dido and move on. Aeneas’ excuse for leaving is that it is god’s will.
Further interest leads me to examine Aeneas’ character and actions. What constitutes a hero? Is there any room for self-determination? This is where a juxtaposition of characters will help answer the above questions. Furthermore, how does the hero’s individual decision affect his present and/or future community?
What I hope to learn:
What I hope to learn from this research is to gain a better understanding of how fate and free will are perceived in these classical epics. I am interested in learning more about classical philosophy. For many, including myself, without the understanding of basic classical philosophy, we can be easily confused when trying to decipher between the actions of free will and fate.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The Beginnings of my Research

The first thought that comes to mind as I sit here and begin to write about my research is that I feel like a detective searching for clues that should lead me to better understand the difference between Fate and man's free will, as it pertains to Virgil and the Homeric classics; this is my first goal.
In order to find the clues I will turn to readings on classical philosophy. I have used our library's online database, specifically JSTOR, to search for academic journals. My first research sitting through JSTOR was done early this month and I have to admit that it takes a while to go through the database because there is so much information (a good thing). So far I have searched through the following journals:
Comparative Literature, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, The American Journal of Philology, The Classical Quarterly and the Classical Journal. Under each journal I looked for titles relating to my topic and read the summary.

In my next posting, I will comment on some of my journal readins.