Imitations in Virgil's Aeneid

“Your Country Needs You” Virgil’s Aeneid as Political Propaganda

The Aeneid is an epic poem written by Virgil at a time between 29 B.C and 19 B.C,
during the realm of Augustus as leader of the Roman Empire. The previous era saw the
people of Rome exposed to famine, strife and many years of civil war. With Augustus in the
position of authority, Rome was experiencing dramatic improvements and civilians praised
him for bringing peace to the empire. In this essay I will discuss to what extent the imitations
in the Aeneid were political propaganda, intended to promote the rule of Augustus and
ultimately, to preserve the era of peacetime that had settled over Rome and it’s people. It is
even possible that Virgil’s epic was commissioned by Augustus in an attempt to ensure that
the successful work was not undone.
The Romans are known for their pride and the high value they place on their own
society. Being regarded as one of the greatest empires in the world, it is no surprise that they
compared themselves to great empires that preceded them. This sense of pride is apparent
throughout the poem as Virgil twists and folds the stories told by Homer into his own,
ensuring that Roman culture is always presented as superior to the Greeks. Virgil uses his
epic tale of the Aeneid to highlight comparisons between the Romans and the Greeks while
almost mocking Homer by attempting to complete and correct versions of events displayed in
the Iliad and the Odyssey.
The first and most obvious comparison between the Aeneid and Homer’s works is
the structure used by Virgil. He writes in twelve book divisions; he makes use of epithets and
he follows the same general themes conveyed by Homer. The initial six books of the Aeneid
are a display of homecoming, comparable to the Odyssey whereas the last six books are based

on war and battle like the Iliad. It is interesting that Virgil switches the order of the two
themes from the way Homer initially ordered them,...