Aeneas reflected the personification of the heroic origins of Rome and a flawless hero. Conventionally a young student should read Julius Caesar, Cicero, Ovid and Catullus before reading Aeneid. The character of Aeneas should be studied and understood by the young Roman students mainly to understand the virtuous Roman ancestory and the values of a great leader that one should find in Aeneas.
Piety or reverence for Gods was one of the values highlighted in the epic through the character of Aeneas who sent prayers and sacrifices to the gods and asked for assistance. It also reflected the devotion and the power of the gods who helped in the creation of Rome. Through the role of Aeneas Vigil showed how prayers worked and disrespectful (towards the will and power of gods) people are punished. For an instance during the war between Aeneas and Mezentius, Aeneas’ prayers to Apollo gets answered by his victory while Mezentius who claimed not to care for or fear gods has to face death. Aeneas’ sacrifices of the cow and sucklings to Juno, prayers to Jupiter before killing Remulus, all reflect his utter dedication and faith. At times the reader may feel that he was too much into the sacrifices and prayers but the connection between profound faith and success is established – a faith that was embedded in the tradition of Rome and hence the young generation also needs to remember that.
In terms of theology, providence implies the ultimate sovereignty of god over human destiny. The concept is somewhat related to predestined where the future of human beings was known and determined by the gods. It also implies that god has plans for the world and He controls every action and event through his will or providence.
Both Marcus Aurelius (one of the good Roman emperors) and Seneca belonged to the school of Stoicism. The concept of providence in Stoicism was a forerunner to the teachings of Christianity. Though Stoicism believed that God and Man were the same and god is present in every human soul. The Christian teaching says that everything is perfectly determined and secured with the Father (Jesus). He knows everything and showers His love equally on all His children. However Seneca’s views were somewhat akin to the proponents of Christianity. Seneca’s views on Providence suggests that the gods “are supreme commanders in the universe, controlling all things by their power and acting as guardians of the human race, even though they are sometimes unmindful of the individual.”
Stob Ralph, “Stoicism and Christianity,” Classical Journal 30 (1934-1935): 217-224
“Fall of the Roman Empire and rise in Christianity”, http://cwp.belmont.k12.ma.us/dmclaughlin/handouts/Mac%20-%20WH%20Review%20with%20written%20Definitions%20061206.doc.
“The Aeneid”, http://www.users.globalnet.co.uk/~loxias/aeneid.htm
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