The Aeneid - Virgil, Robert Fitzgerald In the The Iliad, Aeneas is saved by the gods to continue the Trojan line after Troy’s fated fall to the Greeks. Virgil’s Aeneid is Aeneas' story from Troy to Italy where he fulfills his destined role as founder of what will become the Roman Empire.

It’s a Homeric imitation though it is written approximately two to three centuries after the presumed date of The Iliad and The Odyssey. And it very much feels like an imitation. The first half of the book is a condensed Odyssey as Aeneas sails from Troy with his followers. The obstacles are similar- as is the route. So much so that, at one point, Aeneas and crew land on Sicily (the land of the Cyclopes) and run into an abandoned crew member of Ulysses. The episode a clear reference to the will known Cyclops scene in The Odyssey.

The second half of the book serves as a miniature Iliad. Aeneas is the Achilles and Turnus the Hector. The writing also is reminiscent with lengthy passages about who slew whom.

Though seemingly considered an inferior work by scholars, I enjoyed reading the Aeneid more than The Iliad and The Odyssey. Overall, it's more concise and has a better flow. The first half progresses smoothly, but like it’s counterpart, the battle descriptions in the second half become a tedious list of names and one-sentence smiting scenes. In all fairness, I gather that the original Latin has a resonance and cadence I’m sure is missing from English translation.

Where Virgil’s epic falls short of Homer is in his main characters. Achilles, Hector and Priam all have wonderfully complex personalities that develop throughout The Iliad. In comparison, Aeneas, Turnus and, sadly, the Carthaginian queen Dido all seem flat and one-dimensional. They accept their roles with little fight (Dido arguably so). Virgil and Homer both stressed Fate and the need to obey the will of the gods, but tragic nature is found in defiance of Fate, not in its obedient subservience.