Aeneid analysis

Topics: Aeneid, Virgil, Aeneas Pages: 6 (1935 words) Published: December 1, 2013

“I sing of warfare and a man at war…cruel losses were his lot in war” (Virgil 1.1-9). It would seem as though the man described in these lines would be anything but a hero, let alone one destined to found one of the greatest civilizations in history, commanding admiration and respect wherever he found himself. Furthermore, one would think that such a history of war would keep people from wanting to become close to him. On both accounts the opposite is in fact true and in the following essay I will examine the fate of those often unlucky people who came to care for the great warrior known as Aeneas and how their shared experiences help Aeneas grow and move closer to his fate.

The first such relationship is the one between Aeneas and his late wife Creusa. While Aeneas is fleeing the ruins of the city of Troy he is accompanied by Anchises and Ascanius, his father and son, respectively, along with Creusa. In the mayhem of the battle however, he loses track of his wife. After the city has been evacuated Aeneas returns to search for his lost wife but to no avail. Instead he is confronted by her spirit who attempts to comfort him and urges him to go onward to Italy to create a new home and find a new wife. This is the first but certainly not the last time that one of Aeneas’ loved ones will become a casualty to his treacherous destiny. However, the fact that Creusa’s spirit tries to console him in the aftermath of such a tragic incident shows not only her sense of selflessness but perhaps an understanding of the gravity of 1. Aeneas’ situation and the fact that to a certain extent anyone who chooses to become involved with him is thereby choosing to become involved with every aspect of the path of his chaotic life. This understanding by Creusa is also shared with Aeneas, while the fate of his wife was indeed a terrible one, her reinforcement of the prophecy of Aeneas’ founding of Rome simply reinforces the notion that he must continue on his path to Italy. And if it is indeed true that “Visions of the past tend to point toward the future” (Smith 61), then every misfortunate that befalls Aeneas, no matter how severe, must be considered part of his fate and ultimately justifiable by the foundation of Rome.

Dido is yet another example of a lover of one of Aeneas’ lovers that meets her tragic end as a consequence of the necessity of Aeneas to complete the task given to him by the gods. Aeneas meets Dido after he and his men are blow off course south of Sicily by a storm produced by the wind god Aeolus. They end up in Libya at the city of Carthage of which Dido is the queen. Due to the work of Venus, Aeneas’ mother, Dido ends up falling madly in love with Aeneas. She requests that he recount for her the fall of his home of Troy and he begrudgingly accepts, all the while providing foreshadowing of similar trials and tribulations that await him along the remainder of his journey (Smith 65). Had divine intervention not clouded her vision, Dido would have most likely noticed this foreboding tale. Unfortunately for her, this was not the case and this tale held no precautionary value. After some time it seems to the people of Carthage that Aeneas and Dido have neglected their duties as leaders and had succumbed to the duties of being lovers. This sentiment was shared by the gods and as a result Mercury is sent to remind Aeneas of his quest. He heeds this warning and prepares his men to leave explaining to Dido that “I sail for Italy not of my own free will” (Virgil 4.475) which does nothing to comfort 2. her in her state of infatuation with him. Upon his departure Dido kills herself by both burning and stabbing herself simultaneously. While her fate is saddening, Aeneas remains largely unfazed, again, due to his sense of duty. This is the second instance in which we see Aeneas spurred onward, first by his wife and second by the gods, causing the subsequent death of his next lover. It seems as though the manner in...

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