Unknown Heroes ~ BitterSweetLife

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Unknown Heroes

Contrasting The Aeneid with Heaven, Aeneas with Christ

I’ve been reading Virgil’s Aeneid lately, and amid the clashing weapons and the toppling sacrificial bulls, the pantheon of gods is hardly more amazing than the pantheon of heroes.

Aeneas is known for his nobility, Ascanius for his youthful charisma, Turnus for his ability to kill everyone in sight. But you soon lose track of the names. Warrior A is known for his fiery trash-talking war chants, while Warrior B is known for his precision archery and Warrior C is noted for his remarkable foot speed. Continue through the entire alphabet two or three times, and you have an idea of the titanic battles that unfold in Virgil’s epic.

Not a hero is overlooked—not even when they are dying ignominiously (and stupidly). In fact, no hero can be overlooked in The Aeneid, because wartime mastery shines out in Virgil like whitecaps on a sun-drenched ocean. On the battlefield, a hero cannot hide. He reveals himself simply by being there and doing what warriors do. Kill enough guys and you are clearly a favorite of the gods.

I’ve been thinking that, unlike mythical Italy, earth may not be such a sure revealer of heroism. Soul-making is not so transparent a process as swordsmanship—and souls, not swords, is the industry God is concerned with.

In contrast to The Aeneid, where champions shine for a moment and sink into the oblivion of the underworld, heaven will be the place where many previously unknown conquerors are revealed—and not for just a moment, but for eternity.

I suspect that many legends will be heard for the first time in the next life, because even the best human storytellers have missed the fullness of what passes for glory in the eyes of God—the God who sent his son, not to massacre and plunder, but to be killed himself, and then give life.

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R. Sherman said...

Nicely said.

One always needs to remember that there are rewards for our actions. The question is, do we want them here in this life or in the next.


Ched said...

Good thoughts. The Greek Pantheon and those of mythology always pale held up to real descriptions of Deity. The Greek gods vascillate, betray, and stamp their feet while being prone to greed, jealousy, and lechery. The musings of the greek gods have always been a stark contrast to the Sovereign providences of the One and only true God.


Culture. Photos. Life's nagging questions. - BitterSweetLife