Does a belief in fate give an individual more or less freedom in the here and now? In the world today seen through the eyes of our past role models both freedom and pre-destination can be viewed in a diverse context, yet it is evident that these two entities are linked to one another. Throughout history many authors, such as Vergil, Exodus, Calvin and Voltaire have various views concerning freedom and pre-destination. Vergil is an ancient author who has the belief that the world is pre-destined for its people; because of pre-destination human beings have limited freedom and a lack of choice as it is the Gods who control this unit of life both directly and indirectly. The book of Exodus tries to explain how destination determines your freedom in a Judeo-Christian context. Calvin, from the reformation, would agree in part with Vergil’s point of view regarding fate. Like Vergil, Calvin also sees a life where pre-destined fate is set for each individual yet he also proves that this is the aspect of life that sets people free and allows them to make the choices in life necessary to keep them on a free and pre-destined path. This paper will show how pre-destination and freedom are linked together through the views of Vergil, Exodus, Calvin and Voltaire and one will then be able to distinguish if a belief in fate gives an individual more or less freedom in the here and now.
When Vergil wrote Aeneid, he made it abundantly clear that the world people live in is based on fate and pre-destination; as a result there is a complete lack of freedom and choice. Throughout Vergil’s epic, Aeneas has numerous encounters where you would think he is forced to make choices that could distort the path set out for him. However this is false, even though there might a slight consideration of choice in Vergil’s epic Aeneas knows that he has no choices as his destiny has already been set for him. A classic example is when Aeneas meets a lady friend Dido; when Dido goes on to invite Aeneas into her life to become her husband he is faced with a crucial decision. Vergil portrays the world to have limited freedom by the actions of Aeneas at this point in his books. It is clear that at any point Aeneas could make the choice to stay behind and begin a new and different life than what was set out for him by the Gods however once he realizes that he has no choice at all he assumes his destiny to lay the foundation of Rome. Assuming that Vergil believes there is limited freedom in the world because of pre-destination causes the reader to really take a closer look when they are reading his books. To think that Aeneas believes he is not free forces him to become something fake, and live a false life through the gate of Ivory as his father walks him though this gate once he returns from the underworld. In the eyes of Aeneas, created by the values of Vergil he sees there is no other way to go about life besides the set path he has been placed on as decided upon by the Gods. One would think it could be possible for Aeneas to be free and bring about his pre-destined fate simultaneously; however when all he sees is the end result through tunnel vision Aeneas is restricting all possibilities for personal freedom.
Because of the lack of awareness of his surroundings, Aeneas forces himself to believe that everything in life is glorious. According to Vergil, the life set forth for Aeneas is a life of imagery to what the Gods wants him to see and believe. Later on in Vergil’s books Aeneas is taken to the underworld and shown to him were some of the people in his past, such as the helmsmen who was killed earlier on in his journey to Rome. During his journey to the underworld, Aeneas is to learn the future destiny of both himself and Rome, because it is Rome where his heroic destiny ends, once he becomes the conqueror and savior. Throughout this portion of Vergil’s books, the reader can now see there is no hope of freedom to Aeneas. What he...
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