The Aeneid-the Role of Fate

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Fate is the essential idea of The Aeneid, but more importantly, the underlying force throughout the text. Fate cannot be changed; it is the set of events with the inevitable result. Virgil uses the idea of fate to narrate and advance through his epic poem, but perhaps also to illustrate that the gods had originally intended for Rome to become a great and powerful empire. The king of gods, Jupiter, has chosen Aeneas and his preordained path to destiny, by leading the Trojans and creating the foundations for the Roman Empire. However, a variety of gods interfere with Aeneas’s direction of fate in order to satisfy their own desires, only to discover that Aeneas’s fate can be manipulated, but never overturned. Aeneas is born from the gods as a leader of the Trojans, therefore respects the gods and their desires. The gods and goddesses frequently appear to Aeneas, reinstating his fate and the obstacles he must overcome to succeed. Although Aeneas knows what he is destined to achieve, he must make choices and emotional decisions that are incompatible with his fate. Unfortunately, these choices have a negative impact on those closest to Aeneas. For example, if it wasn’t for fate, Aeneas and Dido would have lived out their lives together in Carthage, therefore never founding the city of Rome. However because of fate, Aeneas and his fleet leave Carthage in the middle of the night causing Dido so much despair that she takes her own life. Juno, the queen of the gods, holds a great resentment toward the city of Troy. Particularly due to the fact that Juno knows that her favorite city, Carthage, will one day be destroyed by the descendants of Aeneas. In addition to the destruction of Carthage; Paris, a Trojan, had also elected Venus over Juno as the most beautiful goddess. Juno possesses a great deal of anger toward the Trojans because of this and will stop at nothing from preventing Aeneas from his awaited fate. Once Aeneas and his fleet begin to retreat from their city of Troy, is when Juno begins to unleash her vindictive attempt to stop Aeneas and the Trojans from fulfilling their appointed destiny. Juno calls Aeolus, the god of winds, to bring down a ferocious storm upon Aeneas as he sails out of Troy. Venus immediately gets wind of what Juno is doing and begs her husband, Jupiter, to stop Juno at once. Venus is fearful for her son and questions Jupiter as to why she harbors such hatred for Aeneas. Jupiter explains to Venus that his fate will not be affected from the storm and reiterates the further fates that await Aeneas. My Cytherea, that’s enough of fear; your children’s fate is firm; you’ll surely see the walls I promised you, Lavinium’s city; and you shall carry your carry your great-hearted son, Aeneas, high as heaven’s stars. My will is still the same; I have not changed. Your son (I now speak anxiousness is gnawing at you; I unroll the secret scroll of Fates, awake its distant pages) shall wage tremendous war in Italy and crush ferocious nations and establish a way of life and walls for his own people – until the time of his third summer as the king of Latium, until he has passed three winters since he overcame the Latins (Virgil 10).

In order for Aeneas to achieve his destiny he must lose those closest to him. During the burning of Troy, Aeneas searches anxiously for his wife, Creusa. She appears to him later in spirit and notifies him that the gods have high expectations waiting for him elsewhere and he must leave without her. Furthermore, if Aeneas found Creusa, they may have both died in Troy or may not have had such a warm welcoming when arriving in Carthage, thus altering his fate and never fulfilling his destiny.

Venus is worried about what Juno has planned to sabotage Aeneas’s quest. Fearful that Juno may turn the Phoenicians against Aeneas while residing in Carthage, she sends down her son, Cupid, the god of love, to strike love in the heart of Dido. Venus is unaware of her actions, and Juno sees this as...
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