Fate in the Aeneid

Topics: Aeneid, Dido, Aeneas Pages: 1 (348 words) Published: March 2, 2008
One of the Aeneid's main themes is that for both gods and mortals, fate always wins in the end. The direction and destination of Aeneas's course are preordained, and his various sufferings and glories in battle and at sea over the course of the epic merely postpone this unchangeable destiny. Aeneas is destined to settle in Italy, and not even the unbridled wrath of Juno can prevent this outcome. Jupiter, whose unalterable will is closely identified with fate because he is the highest of the gods, sees to it that his overall plan comes to pass. Because Jupiter's force trumps the powers of all others, the interference in Aeneas's life by the lesser gods, who strive to advance their personal interests as much as they can within the contours of the larger destiny, do not really affect the overall outcome of events. Knowing that nothing can change fate, why does Juno persist in relentlessly harassing Aeneas? For example, she cannot prevent the Trojans from founding a new city, yet she remains fixed in her determination to inflict suffering on them. She says, "I shall appeal to whatever powers there are…I cannot keep him from his kingdom in Latium: so be it…But I shall be able to delay it all and drag it out, I shall be able to cut the subjects of both those kings to pieces" (7: 312-317). At this point in the narrative, Virgil has imparted Juno with base emotions that, in their extremity, seem beyond human capacity. Her obsession with revenge drives her to hurt Aeneas, though she acknowledges the futility of the violence she incites with phrases such as "It will not be permitted me" and "changeless fate." For Juno, thwarting the Trojans is no longer a matter of control but rather of pride, as her resolute assertion, "That I can do," makes clear. Virgil's Juno, a fearsome, self-important, and vengeful character from the start, reaches the height of her anger in this passage and appears pathetic in her willful obstruction of fated events.
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