The writers and philosophers of different epochs have reflected the reality of the contemporary society, political and economic situation through their creative perspective, based on the personal opinions and worldview. Sometimes, the most influential characters managed to change the way people see the world; among them were Virgil, St. Paul, and St. Augustine. The paper studies the works of these writers, in order to identify the goals of each author and show how they relied on the past, in order to direct their readers towards the future they desired.
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Aeneid is a poem by Virgil that tells a story of a group of escapees, who looks for another home in a distant country after their native city has been destroyed. It is a creative writing, which employs various descriptive materials from contemporary myths and legends that relate to the human spirit’s everlasting quest for individual perpetuation. Virgil’s generation saw heroism from a different perspective since the events of the poem were passed from generation to generation; thus, the story acquired an appearance of the indisputable truth (Virgil n.p.).
In the opening of Aeneid, Virgil narrates the story of Paris as a cause of implacable hatred of Juno to the Trojans. This monologue helps in justifying why the queen of gods, Juno, is a fearsome character in the heroic poem. The Trojan War was a direct result of Paris’ judgment, who gave the golden apple to the ‘wrong’ goddess; his decision, eventually, lead to the collapse of Troy and consequent founding of Rome (Virgil n.p.). The golden apple had an inscription “For the Fairest,” which produced far-reaching effects since it stimulated the passions of both common people and immortals. Jupiter appointed Paris to deliver judgment on the golden apple, and the men awarded it to Venus, who, in return for the good deed, promised to give him the most beautiful woman in the world. Juno took the Paris’ judgment as an individual insult that hurt her vanity and provoked a deep enmity since she knew her preferred city, Carthage, would be destroyed, and its citizens would be sold to slavery by Rome (Virgil n.p.).
In times of Vergil, a series of ambitious and vicious leaders came in violently to control the state in the last days of the Roman republic, but none of them solved the problems or instituted a permanent power for himself and his supporters (McKay, et al). Octavian, the first Roman emperor, was officially named Augustus by the Roman Senate, as he brought order where other leaders had failed. He restructured the Roman bureaucracy opening its membership to freedmen, common people, and slaves; in the meantime, he managed to mask his absolute power skillfully by maintaining the old appearance of the Republican government (Virgil n.p.).
Virgil, a poet who matured in times of the death throes of the republic, longed for the peace that Augustus had promised and brought; therefore, he whole-heartedly supported the policies of the emperor. The concurrent look of the man of poetic genius inspired by the man of power led to the creation of Aeneid, whose main aim was to remind its readers of the epic past, from which Rome was believed to be born, and awaken equally epic future hopes (Virgil n.p.).
St. Augustine begins The City of God by praising Lord, as well as referring incessantly to Biblical verses, particularly the Book of Psalms. Augustine aims to know and comprehend God’s nature, how to pray and call upon Him. He pays special attention to how Lord exists in the creation and whether God is surrounded by the creation or the whole creation contains Him. Therefore, Augustine parallels his most basic activities as an infant, like knowing how to smile, with nursing. Augustine says that he had learned about these facts from weak females: his nurses and mother (Augustine of Hippo n.p.). Augustine experienced wretchedness in his young years, and he was admonished to know how to employ his authority of speech to preach all over the world and gain honor and wealth. Augustine’s father was not a Christian, but he had never prevented anyone in his family from practicing their faith. Since the early days, Augustine recognized that his mother, St. Monica, was the moral superior to his father, and he used to adopt moral instructions from this women (Augustine of Hippo n.p.).
In Book One, some of the Augustine’s ideas seem to be narrow-minded and stringent to modern reader and standards. St. Augustine criticized children and even toddlers for their jealousy, self-centeredness, and having no companion as psychologically unstable state of mind. The fact that Augustine considers children’s behavior somewhat wrong serves to demonstrate why he suggests the teaching of children from the very birth. St. Augustine considers the innate sinfulness of children as a proof of the original sin and suggests teaching them from these early events (Augustine of Hippo n.p.).
In describing of his school years, Augustine narrates about how boys were educated in the Roman Empire, in the 4th century. The boys learned Greek, the authority of Homer was regarded an indispensable educational tool, and a lot of time was spent on pronunciation and speech. Later in the book, readers see how Augustine was taught to pay attention to what he said and how he said it (Augustine of Hippo n.p.). Almost all teaching was dedicated to the right use of speech and writing. To the colonial society, Rome seemed to be the center of culture, wealth, refinement, and power. This inferiority complex group led to extremes in education evidenced by the beating of students; the contemporary society was violent and corporal punishment was common at schools and homes (Augustine of Hippo n.p.).
St. Paul’s letter to the Romans is a theological masterpiece that has defined the church doctrine for many centuries. Paul destroys the false foundations concerning salvation using his debating skills and justifies that the only way of reaching and understanding God is the pass of Faith. Paul pulls no thump in describing the truth of Biblical Christianity and declares that each individual is a sinner, destined to everlasting punishment. Saint Paul asserts that, in the eyes of God, every man, woman, and child is guilty from Adam to Jesus Christ and is bound by sin. He further states that, by good deeds or religious observance, a person cannot pay for sins. Paul clarifies that every man and woman will experience God’s wrath if he or she leaves no place for faith and Jesus Christ (St. Paul n.p.).
When St. Paul was writing to the Romans, his main aim was to spread the Gospel to the gentiles and convince them to believe in Christ and look for salvation through faith. Paul states that the purpose of his visit to Rome was to win the Romans to Christ just as he had converted the gentiles. In the letter to the Romans, Paul says that nobody can claim unrighteous, unjust, or unfair acts of God concerning salvation regardless anything since he or she cannot go straight to God and receive righteousness, but has to go through Jesus Christ. Through personal faith in Christ, righteousness can be reckoned just as Abraham believed in God and received gifts for his faith and fidelity (St. Paul n.p.).
Saint Paul lived in times of persecution of Christians. In his writing, he suggested an alternative way to live under the tyranny of rulers. Paul asserts that, by surrendering life to God and not to regulations, laws, and religious observances, and through the dwelling of the Holy Spirit, people are strengthened to live righteously in their daily life. Faith in Christ changes the conduct, attitude, and outlook of a person. According to Paul, every human being is called to believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ rather than rely solely on religion or good deeds. In addition, every human being should declare that he or she is not ashamed of Christ since salvation is in the power of God only (St. Paul n.p.).
In conclusion, it is clear that all the three writers created their own way to see the new world drawn on historical understanding of the Roman Empire.