The Odyssey and Aeneid are both epics about finding home and father-son relationships. Yet, unlike The Odyssey, which shows Telemachus as unsure and without the role model of his father Odysseus, the Aeneid shows Ascanius (Iulus) accompanying his father Aeneas and as always being confident in his qualities and abilities. Aeneas’ son is an essential part of the story and we see him grow along this journey. He appears at key moments in the text always to illustrate something of importance. First, he serves as a motivation for the journey to Italy to continue. At key moments, when the journey seems to halt, Aeneas is prompted to continue because of his son Ascanius. Second, in the absence of his father, Ascanius steps into a leadership role and embodies key Roman qualities of behavior, like duty and bravery, that teach Roman youth how to act. Third, in various prophetic pronouncements, he represents the future of Rome, linking Aeneas to Augustus through the Julian line. Ascanius moves the journey, and thus the poem forward, through his presence and actions at key moments. Without him, the Aeneid would not hold the same meaning.
Morgan Hoffman, ’15
Sponsor: John Gruber-Miller