The Catholic University of America


John Marshall's Response

Questions on "Of Aeneas, Pietas, and Christianity: The Reception of Pietas in Christian Literature"

Question #1

If you could highlight just one piece of evidence from your essay (whether it be a passage, primary source, excerpt from a song, or architectural structure) which would you choose and why?  

 I would probably choose to highlight Kenneth McLeish's point that the only time that Aeneas is called pius in Book 4 of the Aeneid is when he leaves Dido. McLeish is probably my best source of support for the idea that pietas can lead to results that we might consider negative, such as when Aeneas suddenly left someone he clearly cared for so that he could achieve a greater good. That knowledge gives us a fuller view of pietas to apply to Dante’s characters and to Sir Gawain. 


Question #2

What first motivated you to submit to Inventio, and having gone through the process as an author has your perspective on academic writing changed in any way, if so how?


 With my admission to grad school came a developing interest in publishing and presenting papers, and I wanted to see if I could make something of this paper and a couple of others from my senior year, whether in Inventio (which I was familiar with due to friends who were on the executive board last year) or another journal. My biggest realization gained through the publication process with Inventio in particular was how much was involved in getting an article published. My biggest change in perspective overall has been a developing interest in what I can do with a paper beyond the course for which I write it.



Question #3


In your paper, you discuss “pietas” in the Aeneid, The Divine Comedy, and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Do we still see “pietas” exhibited in characters in fiction today? Is there a character in a film or novel from the last century that, according to your interpretation, is “pius”?


Examples of pietas in modern literature are fewer and further between, since much of society is becoming more and more selfish, but a few examples can certainly be found. One pius fictional character is Aragorn from Lord of the Rings. His whole life was dedicated to the service of others, most notably as a member of the Fellowship of the Ring, and he would have gladly given his life to advance that quest and keep others safe. A good example of a “pius” historical character that has been portrayed in recent books or movies would be Robert E. Lee, as depicted, in Ron Maxwell's Gods and Generals and Gettysburg. Lee's life, too, was dedicated to the service of others, most notably to Virginia and to the army that he commanded during the Civil War. As Lee himself said, "Duty is the sublimest word in the English language. You should do your duty in all things. You can never do more, you should never wish to do less." I defined pietas in my paper as the fulfilment of one’s obligations to others without regard for personal cost or personal feelings, and these men ably exemplify this.