Homer, Virgil & Milton Essay

903 words - 4 pages

Homer, Virgil and Milton
Homer, Virgil and Milton’s use of allusion in their literature is apparent and most likely educational. They all have clear and recurring parallels between their works.
Particularly complex are the allusions to Achilles, which appear in the portrayals of both Aeneas and Turnus. W. S. Anderson, in his influential article1 on Vergil's use of the Iliad, has argued that although Achilles is initially invoked as a model for both Aeneas and Turnus in Aeneid, as the poem progresses Vergil establishes Aeneas as the true heir to Achilles, while Turnus becomes a new Hector or Paris. Book 9 opens with Iris urging Turnus to take advantage of Aeneas' absence by attacking the ...view middle of the document...

Studies tend to focus only on one scene from the Aeneid, however: the battle for control of Latium in Book 12. The richest comparison is that of Aeneas's slaying Turnus with the Son's throwing Satan out of heaven, which imposes the ambiguity of Turnus's death onto Satan's demise. Obviously, Aeneid is outside the scope of those studies; in fact, the very relevance of the crucial drama between Aeneas and Dido to Paradise Lost has been questioned. However, such skepticism is characteristic of the minority, as the multiple similarities between Eve and Dido have been the object of much discussion since they first surfaced in 17122. From the catalogue of textual and thematic similarities between Dido and Eve, the cave scene and the Fall, readers have drawn a range of conclusions. Eve is, like Dido, doomed, and Adam is succumbing to Eve and eating the apple as evidence that he is not as strong as Aeneas was in leaving Dido. By contrast, comparing Aeneas and Adam deems the situation of Adam and Eve much more positive than that of Aeneas and Dido. Following suit, the few critics who have compared Aeneas and Satan at any length have arrived at somewhat disparate conclusions. Although the Son most closely resembles Aeneas, Aeneas's basic character qualities are found in Satan. Satan is a parody of Aeneas as a whole, rather than an expression of his negative traits.
These are just a few examples of the complexity discovered through the process of tracing classical references in Paradise Lost. Attempts to define precisely Milton's reworking of classical literature are often thwarted because of the tension between his evident admiration for...

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