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Augustan Propaganda in the Shield of Aeneas

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Virgil wrote the famous Aeneid at the brink of Raman rise. In book 8, Aeneas’s character, we see person who is absorbed in his own destiny, which does not ultimately relate to him but it relates to something bigger and less personal. The Augustine Empire surrounds high walls of Rome are stony and rugged. Unlike Odysseus, Aeneas does not habitually assert himself because he usually finds himself as a victim to forces much greater than him and he endeavors to learn not to resist these forces to save his own self.

Repeatedly, he tries to assert himself, to act as a hero, and repeatedly he falls. While leading a desperate band of Trojans against the Greeks, the situation turns against him because the Trojans began killing each other. Although, the Trojans dressed up like the Greeks, an unfortunate thing happens when their own compatriots thought of them as actual Greeks and this lead to their slaughter.

While the slaughter goes on, Aeneas stands still in a shock, awe, and unbearable pain that he found himself along him. He is nothing more than a helpless spectator of the terrible violations going outside as well as within him. Among other of his effects of the epic identifications of Aeneas is an ironic contrast because he is cast in a role, which is his tragedy that cannot be fulfilled.

Another aspect to consider here is a new kind of identification, which is the historical one, and like Odysseus and Achilles were being cast, Augustus wants Aeneas to be the emperor it desires. Many of the passages, the third book sets up the connection while contributing in it greatly. Te western shore of Greece all the way to Actium is monitored by Aeneas and his men, which touches the borders of the temple of Apollo.

Aeneas ties up the temple door while they hold games, which was taken from the Greeks with inscription.  It is celebrated in the memory of Augustus’s great victory at the Actium against fierce rivals, the great Cleopatra, and Antony. Organizing these games stays as a memorable event to cherish the great victory. It also leads him to identify himself as Apollo. Adding to this, the true representation of Antony’s army, are the Greeks who initiated recruiting a new force from the shores of Eastern Mediterranean.

In the mean time, Augustus emerged as the champion of Italy. Aeneas dedicates the Greek spoils to Apollo which sounds illogical because the Greeks were defeated by Augustus who deserved the right to establish his rule and the right of dedication (Sergio, 185-204).

The Shield of Aeneas

The actual craftsman of the shield, Vulcan, has gained an uncanny attraction towards the beauty of Venus, and says that he will only work on the shield when Venus provided him with the pleasure. Vulcan is also willing to Trojans even during the war. On the other hand, Hephaestus was more than willing to help Thetis of Achilles with plenty of arms and ammunition much in the same way as he equipped Aurora and Memnon along with Greeks and Trojans.

Vulcan was more in doing promises than the actual thing because he gained much pleasure in the deal. His repeated delays are causing troubles to Venus and she is losing trust in his commitment although she intends to please Augustus with the shield. The purpose f the author is to present the greatness of Rome which is reflected by the remarkable shield made by Vulcan for Venus and hence, for Rome. The shield is a replica of heavenly shields that have fallen on the Earth from heaven. 

Two things occurring simultaneously, one is the deceit and the other is the victory. Vulcan is unaware of the purpose behind the shield that he is making. All he is concerned with is the pleasure he gets as a payment whereas he does not realize that he is being used by Augustus as a mere tool of propaganda (Wallace, 221-230).

Meanwhile, Aeneas is told by Evander that he has all but a slim means by which to help the Trojans himself, but that he should seek aid from the Etruscans. History reflects that for many years, Mezentius, who is also an ally of Turnus, has made his life a living hell for the Etruscans therefore they would welcome an opportunity to rise up against someone who has caused them a great deal of suffering and now is the time to get rid of their misery once and for all. 

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Pallas, the son of Evander, is handed over to Aeneas by his father who believes that Aeneas will take care of his son while the battle heats up because Evander himself is too old and weak to enter the battle himself. This responsibility causes a concern to Aeneas as he is initially wary of Evander's advice, but he feels at ease after seeing the crashing thunder and weapon pictures in the high sky as a symbol that victory will reach his feet once he takes the responsibility and alliance with the Etruscans.

After preparing, Aeneas heads of to the battleground with the bravest of his men following his path to chase the destiny that awaits them. They reach Agylla while sent the others back to the camp at Ascanius. Here he meets Etruscans who are under the command of King Tarchon. Aeneas’s mother, Venus, appears to him with weapons made by Vulcan along with the shield. The craftsmanship of the shield amazed Aeneas very much, which has a depiction that shows a brilliant future for Rome. The image contains details of battle scene where Augustus Caesar is leading his men into the battle and Remus and Romulus are suckling a wolf teat.  Aeneas enters the battle with the support of shield that glorifies Rome’s dignity and valor and confirms the great victory under the rule of great Augustus. However, many consider the shield as a tool of propaganda and a means to spread confusion among the enemies just by looking at it. (Roemer, 49-58)

Virgil is spellbound to use the book to set a theme of sympathy with the Romans and in doing so; he lets the reader aware of their might and righteousness of Romans including Augustus and his compatriot at the same time. Using the tool of sympathy and glory, he is gaining the support for the Roman cause and is clear in his approach who to look for. The theme is more visible when he compares Aeneas and Evander as having the similar caliber that Greek Hercules had in his time.

Thus, he glorifies his heroes as the masters of their time and they were destined to become successful. Another theme that author discusses is the future of Rome which was preordained according to the author. The proof he gives for this is the presence of primitive ruins and buildings that Aeneas was shown by Evander only to keep him wondering, thinking about the greatness and long future laid ahead for Rome.

However, the most prominent theme of all was the Shield itself, which had the glory of Rome, crafted in it. It depicts a psychological form of battle where you overcome the enemy by means of mass propaganda and demoralize them to an extent where they feel being defeated before the actual battle.

Propaganda is the exact theme that Augustus used to defeat the Trojans and Greeks

The word propaganda does not go too well with the reader, the author adds the flavor of drama to it. A reader goes through ups and downs of the book while forgetting the fact that the Roman glory was in reality more of a deceit and propaganda used by Augustus and company to win the war. (Kennedy, 26-58)

This was necessary to do because Augustus’s rise o power was not the most historic by any means and since the author is spellbound to prove the glory and dignity of Augustus and Rome, he goes to any height to prove his words right. It has also allowed Virgil to create a strongly symbolic image of the clash between the Augustus’s Romans and Mark Antony's Eastern forces.

Another piece of propaganda is witnessed when the author shows the Aeneid where Virgil explicitly writes about Rome is when Aeneas finds himself standing in the underworld where he witnessed the parade of future Roman heroes. Under the same context, Virgil shows Aeneas who is going to replace him. Aeneas has all the intentions to succeed in the battle and overcome his enemies after what he saw in the underworld.

This is where Anchises shows Aeneas what a glory is destined to come after him when he succeeds in the battle, which provides a moral boost to Aeneas in his quest to succeed in the battle (Glainsky, 93-105).

The author has used this to create a reference to the glorious history of Rome, and to show off the past glories of Rome and the Roman myth. Historically, it is evident that Caesar Augustus never had to face a self-image restoration problem. By the time he died, he was worshipped in many parts of the world as a deity. Whereas, the use of Augustus title by Octavian reflects his interest in religion, which also include the position of Pontifex Maximus, which is the title of the highest priest and the imperial cult. After the King, he portrays the people of Rome as a great nation. He calls them “the third founding pillar” of the state. They are great people, relentless in their cause of protecting their land (Habit, 104-119).

Augustus Propaganda

The whole book revolves around the word “Propaganda” one way or the other. Many experts have refuted Virgil’s claims of Romans being a great nation was destined to win. The scene from the underworld where Aeneas witnesses his successor and a new Rome founded with even more affirmation and strength, symbolizes the fact that most of the themes are nothing more than morel boosting events. What is important to note here is the glory of Romans was meant to be imposed over their enemies such as the Greeks, Latin lords and others who opposed them from time to time (Kennedy, 26, 58).

Historically, there is no denying that Rome was one of the greatest Empires that ever existed in the world and lasted for many centuries too but the author has gone many stretches in praising the Romans. Bias content is quite visible in Virgil’s work from time to time. The significance of the Shield is quite notable. The development and craftsmanship involved in it that glorifies the future of Rome and its rulers, people is worth noting.

There is a hint of brilliance in Virgil’s work because of simplicity of expressions and the way he grasps the attention of readers. He presents an elaborate picture of the whole scene that took place thousands of years ago but the description of characters and locations is quite remarkable although there is bias at times but overall a masterly written work.

Augustus is a brave ruler and in companionship of the son of Gods(Kennedy, 26, 58).

This is very much evident with the use of the gods and the frankly appalling time keeping within it. The importance of “Shield of Aeneas” has another aspect to it. Because Aeneas is depicted as son of God and is next to none, his attributes, and his divine, background adds to the strength of Augustus and works as a shield to any forthcoming hazard. Even though Aeneas has nothing to do with the foundation of Rome, his importance to Augustus and Virgil are alike.

Aeneid has a description of the founder of actual Roman Empire; someone by the name of Romulus Romulus did this marvel. There are some inaccuracies such as, Aeneas’s rule Latium that lasted for three years. His son ruled for thirty years and later Roman Kings ruled for almost three hundred years before the Roman Empire was founded.  According to the actual date of Trojan War and other historical findings, Virgil’s claim is wrong. This also shows that apart of historical descriptions, there are other errors in his work too (Fits, 114, 137).

The timeline of Aeneid is just after the great political as well as social turmoil between Augustus and Mark Antony, highlighted in the eighth book. Augustus is known as the man who is highly prophesized by his forerunners as the King who will erase his opponents and will elevate himself as the divine ruler sent by gods.

The support he gained through Aeneas and his parents was another example of a divine intervention and most importantly, the presence of the Shield in Aeneas hands, made on the command of his mother, worked out by his step father, encompassing all the glory of the present and the future of the upcoming Roman Empire, Aeneas being welcomed by the underworld while holding the shield in his hands, all relate to the propaganda side of the invention and actual purpose of the shield.

Having a shield for Aeneas has more symbolic meanings than anything else because he is the protector f Rome. The same theme is repeated throughout the chapter eight where the suffering of Aeneas reflects the suffering of the Roman Empire. Such prominence is seen throughout the book that Virgil is certain about Augustus’s success and his divine rule. Shield also signifies the importance of a divine Roman Empire and her dominance over her adversaries.

Rome and her people are destined to win in any battle, any war, and any conflict and regardless to whatever they do to their enemies, however they achieve their goals they are destined to win. There is a genuine sense of pride and hype throughout the work and this can be sensed by the presence of divine rulers and their followers. Adding the charm and glory to their pride, it is the shield in hands of a mighty warrior who has no analogues in his time and who is destined to attain glory whenever he goes out with the shield, his sword hits like a lightning bolt and enemy perishes. When he is attacked, he holds the greatest defense in the form of shield, which protects him and his forces, to provide them a sweet victory for many years to come.

Conclusion

This is where the propaganda of Shield takes place, which has more symbolic meaning than actual. It is a tool to disrupt the opponent in the battlefield. To convince him that he must not and cannot mess with Augustus and his people because not only they are accompanied by divine warriors and soldiers, but they are destined to attain glory in every conflict they face. The shield is of great importance apart of being a tool to create propaganda because it exemplifies the whole cosmos with its unique and elaborated symbols. This cosmos is strictly a symbol of Roman dominance in the whole universe. They are a divine nation comprising of divine people who include both public and rulers.

Shield is a symbol of a message to the opponents that Romans are born to rule and no one can replace them, neither can anyone defeat them. Apart of symbolic gesture, this theme was well settled in the heart of every roman of that time. It is created as a divine symbol of Roman dominance and it fulfills this role of relating the Romans with divinity.

When the shield is in the hands of Aeneas, it is another symbolist theme because Aeneas is known as a descendant to gods of Rome, therefore he is destined to provide glory and prosperity to Romans and his presence in every battle is vital for their moral (Fits, 114, 137). Virgil has endeavored hard to present his fantasy along with the glory of Romans. His work presents a great deal of symbolism among many things, especially; the shield of Aeneas, which assures is dominance in any conflict he faces. However, in reality, the shield is a true mark of deception and propaganda by Augustus and his followers.

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