Generational Transcendence as Exemplified
by  Pietas in the Aeneid  (LE)

Janet A. Berardo

Various characteristics in familial relationships presented in the Aeneid in incidents involving pietas seem to follow the paradigm of family transcendence as set forth by the sociologists Howard and Katherine Bahr.  The meaning of transcendence is the reaching beyond physical and psychological limits so that individualized expressions, extension of feelings and obligations, reach beyond limits in the family setting.  The concept of transcendence is used in the familial paradigm to supply a unifying theme for the group of affective expressions in familial relationships that identify kinship, such as altruism, emotionality, nurturing and intuitive thinking. 

This paper illustrates several characteristics of Virgilian familial relationships involving pietas that are evident from the holistic perspective of the transcendence paradigm.   Pietas in a holistic view exemplifies transcendence as a unifying principle since pietas captures the unity in the Roman attitude that individual lives are part of the whole, that is, the family, the state and the universe; hence, there is an unbreakable bond between the individual and kin, throughout generations.

Three sub-types associated with generational transcendence are illustrated: (1) the essential kinship bond, which is parent/child relations; (2) the ancestral linkage, which shows kinship ties as links to an ancestry reaching beyond mortality with obligations and commitments that bind the dead and the living; and (3) the ties of kinship, which are obligations to posterity.  These aspects of transcendence are found in the Aeneid in husband and wife, father and son, and father and daughter relationships.

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