The Classical epic heroes Achilles and Aeneas serve as the respective paradigms of the Ancient Greek and Roman cultures that produced them. The Romans borrowed extensively from Greeks—after all, the Roman poet Virgil’s Aeneid was built directly upon the foundation of the Greek poet Homer’s Iliad, the Aeneid being a continuation of the story of the Trojan War. But much as the Roman mythology of artistry was rooted in Greek tradition, the heroic ideals of their cultures were distinctly different from one another.
Achilles and Aeneas are not entirely dissimilar. Both are only part mortal, with the goddesses Thetis of the Silver Feet and Venus (the Greek Aphrodite) as their respective mothers and protectors. Both heroes have destinies to fulfill: Achilles must choose between a long life and a glorious legacy, and Aeneas is destined to become the founder of the city of Rome. But, because the Greeks and Romans had different sets of priorities—Greeks for honor and glory, Romans for family and duty—these priorities necessarily produced two different, but equally iconic cultural heroes.