Thursday, January 15, 2004

Aeneas and Turnus
One of the things that I ask my kids when they read the Aeneid is if they think that Aeneas should have killed Turnus at the end. The point seems to be that since Turnus had no mercy on Pallas, then Aeneas should not have mercy on Turnus. This whole episode, of course, says something about the Roman character and the meaning of pietas for them. What would have happened had he not killed Turnus? Was it simply revenge, or was there a justice issue involved?

My kids usually just say, "Well, he wasn't Christian, so you can't expect him to be motivated by mercy." I don't know. Even within the context of pre-Christian social ethics, might there not be an argument for mercy in this case?

No comments: