Is it fair to say that Vergil represents Aeneas as a passive follower of fate in The Aeneid?

The concepts of fate and destiny are fundamental components of Roman mythology and culture. These themes are intrinsic in Vergil’s poem, The Aeneid; the cornerstone of Roman literature. As the son of the Trojan Prince Anchises, and Venus, the goddess of love, Aeneas is the protagonist in Vergil’s Aeneid. Aeneas is destined to survive the siege of Troy and to establish a new state in Italy for the subsequent glory of the Roman Empire. Aeneas subordinates his feelings to the will of the gods and fate in his journey to Italy, and consequently Aeneas’ personal desire to duty define his character and thus earn him the moniker ‘pious Aeneas’ (Casali 2010, p.39).  Although Aeneas is portrayed to be a passive follower of fate, Vergil crafts Aeneas to be a worthy hero of the epic which bears his name.

Fate is the overarching theme that is present in the Aeneid. Before evaluating the intricate relationship between Aeneas’ actions and his preordained fate, it is imperative to understand the purpose of this specific literary device in the Aeneid. Arguably, Roman mythology was derived from the Greeks; the Roman gods merely adopted Romanized names (Roman 2010, p.291). The Romans were keen to reinterpret stories about the Greek deities under the names of their Roman counterparts. Among the key beliefs and traditions, the idea of fate was largely influential. In the Greek tradition, fate was the path which a person’s life was meant to travel; and ultimately the course could not be avoided (Roman 2010, p. 302). For instance, a classic Greek example is the tragic tale of Oedipus (Sophocles, Oedipus Rex). In the Aeneid, similar notions of fate guide Aeneas to his promised land. Aeneas’s actions in relation to fate are distinctive amongst the main characters. Juno, Turnus, and Mezentius act in opposition to the fated order of events and suffer the will of the gods; while Aeneas acts in harmony and cooperates with destiny. Hence Vergil utilises the concept of fate in the Aeneid to express that the origins of Rome were fated and therefore divinely mandated.
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Is it possible to argue that the Roman slaves were respected as human beings?

Roman Italy was understood to be a ‘slave society’ considering slaves comprised twenty-percent of the population (Hopkins, 1978, p.99). It is arguable whether Roman slaves were respected as human beings, despite their low level status in society. In this essay, I will examine the claim by analysing the complex relationships between slaves and the citizens of Rome and also the economical impact of slavery. It is important to note that one of the key issues in this essay is the concept of cultural relativism. The Roman’s customs, beliefs and ethics are relative to their own time period and culture. Morality in the twenty-first century cannot be compared with Roman morality, since the notions of “right” and “wrong” are culture specific. When analysing the concept of slavery in antiquity, it is imperative to take into account that a slave’s fate is inextricably bound by the social hierarchy of power. In such a hierarchy, without the under-class there is simply no upper-class.

Many slaves lived in complete conditions of trust alongside their masters and mistresses (Rawson, 2010, p.24). The writings of several Roman authors illustrate the notion that slaves were considered by some citizens to be human beings instead of commodities. In a letter to his friend Lucilius, Seneca the Younger articulates a high level of respect towards slaves; stating that slaves and their respective masters are equal, as the fate of both social classes are effectively intertwined:

“I am glad to learn, through those who come from you, that you live on friendly terms with your slaves. This befits a sensible and well-educated man like yourself. “They are slaves,” people declare. Nay, rather they are men. “Slaves!” No, comrades. “Slaves!” No, they are unpretentious friends. “Slaves!” No, they are our fellow-slaves, if one reflects that Fortune has equal rights over slaves and free men alike.”
(Seneca the Younger, Moral Letters to Lucilius 47.1)

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The Ten Commandments of Rational Debate

Various similar lists of the 10 commandments of rational debate have been posted thousands of times on the net, and today it is my turn to post a list of commandments.

1. Do not attack the person or his character, but only the argument itself. (“Ad hominem”)

2. Do not misrepresent or exaggerate a person’s argument in order to make their argument easier to attack. (“Straw Man Fallacy”)

3. Do not reduce the argument down to only two possibilities. (“False Dichotomy”)

4. Do not claim that just because something has occurred before something else then it must be the cause of the second thing. (“Post Hoc/False Cause”)

5. Do not argue your position by assuming one of its premises is true. (“Begging the Question”)

6. Do not claim that because a premise or argument is popular then it must be true. (“Bandwagon Fallacy”)

7. Do not argue that because of our ignorance at this point in time that your claim must be true or false. (“Ad Ignorantiam”)

8. Do not assume “this” follows “that,” when there is no logical connection. (“Non sequitur”)

9. Do not appeal to an outside “experts” to claim support. (“Appeal to Authority”)

10. Do not claim moral authority as support for your argument. (“Moral high ground fallacy”)