The Aeneid as part of a Saviour Cult

Hi Guys, here’s my first proper post back as a blogger!

So, recently I have developed a fascination with The Aeneid written by that wonderful author, Virgil. I’ve finally finished reading the book (or rather, all twelve of them) and needless to say, I want to know more.

Having picked up a little book about the themes within it and other aspects of The Aeneid, I was intrigued by the ideas that were presented about the idea of Saviour Cults. These were cults that developed after the period of uncertainty during the Civil War 47 BCE – 45 BCE, and the book does not hesitate to say that the only one of these Saviour Cults to survive was Christianity.

But, that isn’t really the important part in relation to the Aeneid. Instead, the idea that Virgil was inclined to write the book as some degree of Augustan propoganda to liken Augustus to both Aeneas and Hercules is an interesting one. It is suggested that a Saviour needs to fight evil generally for the good of a civilisation, so while I would personally suggest that Hercules is less a Saviour since he was, for the most part, doing his twelve labours for personal gain, Aeneas certainly is.

Therefore, Augustus and Aeneas are two different generations who are destined to save Rome in some regard. And, should Virgil’s geneaology be believed, two generations of the same blood.

I can’t help but to wonder how effective such propoganda would have been within Rome – apart from having limited accesibility to the general ‘plebs,’ to attempt to edit and create aspects of a myth to corrolate with Augustus himself is no mean feat, and there must have been some sort of scrutiny as to the legitimacy of the tale.

I suppose it is a reflection of hope. For a society just coming out of years of civil unrest, a nice epic to tell them that they had a strong leader, likened to the gods themselves, would have been a great source of hope.

So, although The Aeneid itself may not have fed too much into popular saviour cults, any society that develops such a need must be in dire straits. Instead, The Aeneid is a reflection of a more popular social development which was perpetrated by the Emporer to help him gather favour.

Buzzy

 

The book referred to is part of the Landmarks of World Literature series and is written by K. W.  Gransden. The Amazon link is here for US and here for UK

A translation I would recommend is the Penguin Classics version found here (US) and here here (UK)

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Classicist, Linguist and general appreciator of the world.

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