To what extent can the Aeneid be viewed as a tragedy? Answer with reference to the: Destruction of Troy and its people; suffering of Aeneas; suffering and death of Dido?

Essay by Mono.High School, 12th grade June 2004

download word file, 2 pages 0.0

Downloaded 33 times

Apart from the events of Book IV, the Aeneid cannot be viewed as a tragedy to the extent of classifying it as a tragedy. Instead, whilst it contains certain elements of tragedy, the epic nature of the story and the final victory of Aeneas over Turnus draws a sharp contrast between the elements typical to tragic literature.

The Greeks, creators of tragedy, defined it as a work that summons in the audience feelings of pity for the character, and fear that such events could also happen to them, as is the case of Sophocle's Oedipus, Aeschylus' Niobe, and all great Greek tragedy. The Aeneid however, while it begins with elements of tragedy, becomes less and less attached to tragedy as the story proceeds. At no point in the story, excepting the character of Dido in book IV, does the reader feel both these emotions for a character in the story.

For example, when the city of Troy is destroyed in book II, the reader feels a certain pity for Aeneas as he flees his burning city. However, the fear of such events happening to them is not present, as the reader is aware that this is happening to the Trojans and to Aeneas because of divine influence. A large part of the reason for Troy's fall is that the many gods side with the Greeks, in particular Juno. Her hate for Aeneas is well known to the reader, due to the incident with Ganymede and the fact he is destined to destroy her town of Carthage. Because the reader is in no way poised to be in any of those situations, they can but feel pity for Aeneas who is. Also, the impact of the sack of Troy on the inhabitants in general does not satisfy the requirements of tragedy...