While the Odyssey teaches readers to value wisdom, The Aeneid teaches readers to value perseverance. Aeneas and his crew persevere through their quest to found Rome. Nautes, one of Aeneas’ crew says, “Son of Venus, whether the Fates will draw us on or draw us back, let’s follow where they lead. Whatever Fortune sends, we master it all by bearing it all, we must!” (176). Even though there are many other places Aeneas and his people could settle, they continue in their journey to found Rome. Aeneas' determination is so strong, he even leaves behind his love to continue his quest. When Dido implores him to stay with her in Carthage, he states, “But not now. Grynean Apollo’s oracle says I must seize on Italy’s noble land, his Lycian lots say ‘Italy!’ There lies my love, there lies my homeland now. . .” (139). He could stay in Carthage with Dido, but he continues his journey, leaving behind his love. Lastly Aeneas and his crew persevere through the war. Although the Latins keep breaking their peace treaties, Aeneas and his people continue their goal to win the war. Even when wounded in battle, Virgil states, “Nor does Aeneas flag, though slowed down by his wound, his knees unsteady, cutting his pace at times but he’s still in full fury, hot on his frantic quarry’s tracks, stride for stride” (379). Aeneas and his crew weather through the war, and finally found Rome.
While some agree that these books are important to read, others would say that ancient books like the Homeric epics are unnecessary reading. One point some teachers and parents would raise is that time in school could be better spent learning other subjects such as science or art. This point is invalid, as by removing classical literature from schools, students will not be learning the values taught in these books. Literature throughout the ages has taught students the values of wisdom, perseverance, honor, and chivalry, and by removing ancient literature study from the school system, students will no longer see the value in these traits. Other teachers and parents say that kids in schools should be raised on modern literature, written for younger age groups, both for ease of reading, and for its modern relevance. Though modern books are easier to read and more contemporarily relevant than these ancient epics, an education system based solely on young adult fiction would suffer. Books written primarily for children and teenagers rarely have much use beyond entertainment, and often lack the literary depth that the ancient books have. Thus, while some teachers and parents would argue that the study of other subjects, as well as modern literature specific for school age groups, are more important than the study of ancient books, these reasons are inadequate, and would result in serious loss to future generations.
These three ancient books should be read, as The Iliad teaches readers the effect of fury on people, The Odyssey teaches readers to value wisdom, and The Aeneid teaches readers to persevere. This matters to future generations, as by removing ancient literature from standard education the morals and ethics of future society will suffer. These books, along with showing the rich culture of ancient people groups, teach us important values that should not be forgotten.
Homer. The Iliad. Translated by Robert Fagles. New York; London, Penguin Classics,
Homer. The Odyssey. Translated by Robert Fagles. New York; London, Penguin
Virgil. The Aeneid. Translated by Robert Fagles. New York; London, Penguin Classics,