The Definition Of Justice In Virgil's The Aeneid

The question of justice in any situation concerning warfare is a difficult one to address, as many people hold opposing views on the righteousness of war itself. In the Aeneid, Virgil proposes a new question for readers to consider as he allows the main character, Aeneas, to undergo a change in mentality throughout the epic. The reader is forced to decide whether the killing of an opponent is deemed as just or unjust. Although many scholars have proposed differing definitions of justice, Plato provides one of the most reputable descriptions. When one utilizes the definition of justice that Plato proposes, he or she will acknowledge that Turnus and Aeneas both abide by the gods’ authority, thus promoting justice; however, after the gods’ influence …show more content…
128-129). Turnus is fated to fight Aeneas; therefore, if Plato’s argument of justice is used, Turnus could be deemed as just, simply following his duty to Iris and the rest of the gods. Another argument posits that Turnus deserves to die as his attitude is overly aggressive in his dealings concerning Pallas after conquering him in battle. The prince of the Rutulians not only utters insolent words against Pallas and his father, but also “stamped his left foot on the corpse and stripped away the sword-belt” defiling Pallas’ broken body (Aen. 10. 586-587). Although this can be cited as a factor that justifies Aeneas’ murder of Turnus, one also has to analyze Aeneas’ attitude in battle. After murdering Tarquitus, Aeneas vaunts with all the hatred in his heart, “Now lie there, you horrific sight! / No loving mother will bury you in the ground / or weight your body down with your fathers’ tomb” (Aen. 10. 659-662). If one were to deem Turnus deserving of death due to his arrogant regard of Pallas, then that same ideology would have to be reciprocated toward Aeneas, as he mercilessly shouts insults against the slain Tarquitus. Not only should the actions of Turnus be analyzed to determine the justice or injustice of his death, but the actions of Aeneas should be examined before he is called a truly just …show more content…
This adherence, by Plato’s definition, is justice. And although Aeneas is described as “duty-bound” multiple times in the opening chapters of the epic, he eventually loses his rationality after the gods are no longer influencing his decisions. “Duty bound” is a misnomer to fully describe Aeneas as he no longer utilizes the three main features of justice and succumbs to his emotions, which results in the unjust slaying of

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