Aeneas as a Leader
Aeneas, the destined founder of Rome, is portrayed as a heroic character in Virgil’s Aeneid. Being born as a half-god, Aeneas enjoys a special protection by the Gods and possesses numerous good qualities. He is fated to escape from the downfall of Troy and set foot in Italy to build the foundation for the later development of Rome in becoming an empire. It is not easy for a person to witness the destruction of his homeland and run away from it in search of a new establishment.
Aeneas, in this context, leaves Troy when it is under the Greek attack and sets sail with his troop in order to fulfill his destiny of rebuilding the glory of Troy in Italy. With all the good leadership qualities that Aeneas possesses, he is able to lead his troop to overcome all the hardships that he encounters, and successfully arrives at Italy. In Virgil’s Aeneid, Aeneas’ fate in founding Rome drives all the actions and plots in the story. In this context, the Gods have direct and absolute control at the human world.
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From the fall of Troy, to the decision of Aeneas leaving Carthage to Italy, everything that happens can be directly associated with the Gods. With such a strong influence of divine power on the human world, the belief and respect of God is crucial in achieving success in any mission. Aeneas possesses this quality, which makes him a suitable candidate of a good leader in leading a troop to set sail to Italy. For instance, Aeneas respects the prophecy of him being the founder of Italy, and this becomes the foundation of all the decisions that he makes in later stages of his life.
With the duty of going to Italy in mind, Aeneas has a very clear goal to achieve, and causes him to be persistent to overcome all the obstacles that he faces. He is determined to fulfill his destiny of founding Italy in spite of all the hardships that are lying ahead of him. Apart from that, the virtue of respecting the Gods has given Aeneas a very rational way of making decisions, which is an important aspect of becoming a good leader. For instance, Aeneas takes order from Mercury to leave Carthage and go to Italy to fulfill his destiny (4. 00-330). Although Aeneas can easily settle down and rule Carthage alongside Dido, he chooses to respect the order from the Gods and leaves Carthage to Italy. The virtue of believing in Gods enables Aeneas to make wise decisions and affects him to be determined, which eventually assists him to lead his troop in the process of achieving the goal. A good leader should always be rational in making decisions and must not be affected by emotions when taking any actions.
In Aeneid, Aeneas is portrayed as a rational character, which is not affected by emotion into taking any action or decision. This is clearly seen in the instance of Aeneas leaving Carthage. Although he is in love with Dido, he does not let emotion set in when he receives the reminder from Mercury of leaving Carthage. He does not get caught in grief knowing that he has to leave the woman he loves and continue his journey in fulfilling his destiny. Instead, Aeneas is dutiful and resumes his mission despite being reprimanded by Dido as being a “traitor” and “cruel” (4. 345-50).
Despite the firm decision he makes, Aeneas is not illustrated as heartless, but given a characteristic of being able to subordinate his emotion for the sake of completing his mission. As oppose to Aeneas, Dido, who is portrayed as a highly emotional character, suffers from deep sadness and commits suicide. By taking that action, she abandons her duty of constructing Carthage, leaving Carthage with no leader, which gives deep impact on the development of the city. Personally, I think a leader should not abandon his or her responsibility abruptly, such as what Dido does.
Instead, he or she should be able to think wisely and make rational decisions that lead to a successful outcome just like what Aeneas does to achieve his goal. Another leadership quality that Aeneas possesses is “virtus”, which can be defined as manliness, courage, and excellence. Aeneas being the eldest son in the family carries the obligation of regaining the glory of Troy by searching for a new settlement and establishing a new kingdom. To reach his goal, Aeneas has to step up as a leader and lead his troop to escape from Troy to set sail to Italy.
This virtue is particularly clear in Book 2 of Aeneid, where Aeneas fights his way through the Greek army while carrying his father, son, and wife. Aeneas is courageous enough to take the responsibility to help his family escape from the destruction of their homeland. This is another virtue that a good leader should possess. Without courage and a firm characteristic, a leader will not be able to fight his or her way through obstacles and help his followers to pull through difficult times.
Another example of Aeneas showing “virtus” is given in Book 1, where Aeneas tries to lift the morale of his troops by reminding them of past unfortunate events that happened to their city and future glory that lies ahead of them (1. 234-244). As a leader, Aeneas is not afraid of challenges that he encounters and he is constantly keeping the spirit of his troop high, which is an essential quality that a good leader should possess. Aeneas is a strong character in every aspect and is being portrayed as a respectable leader by Virgil.
With all the good qualities that he possesses, Aeneas is able to fight his way through to escape from the destruction of Troy, leave Carthage to continue his mission, and finally arrives at Italy as well as founding the city of Rome. The fore mentioned qualities are Aeneas’ respect of the Gods and taking orders from them, his ability to make rational decisions without the influence of emotion, and the quality of “virtus”. These are the three main aspects that make Aeneas a good leader, who leads his troop through hardships and enables him to make wise decisions in the process of achieving his goal.