Is The Plot of Aeneid by Virgil Driven by Gods or Humans?
The “Aeneid” is an epic poem written by Virgil and is also a great source of knowledge about ancient Roman culture and beliefs. From this literary masterpiece, we can learn that ancient Romans were a god-fearing nation. They believed that the gods controlled their lives, and mortal people could not change their fate. This determinism is represented in the “Aeneid,” where the plot is driven by divine intervention.
In the first book of the poem, the goddess Juno wants to destroy the fleet of Trojans. She asks Aeolus to “raise all thy winds; with night involve the skies.” However, Aeneas is not meant to die. His faith is to become the founder of Rome. The storm doesn’t kill the hero thanks to Neptune, who calms down the sea. Yet, Aeneas and his warriors find themselves in Africa because of the gods’ actions.
Later, Aeneas leaves the African continent, also because of the gods’ will. Although he falls in love with beautiful queen Dido, he cannot become her husband. Jupiter sends Mercury to remind the hero of his great destiny. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, he guides his life by obedience to a divine command, to which he sacrifices his own natural inclinations (Anderson).
Frances B. Titchener, the author of the book “A History of Ancient Rome,” called Aeneas “fate-driven” (Vergil and The Aeneid). Although Virgil depicts his hero as a strong warrior and a wise leader, he also emphasizes his god-consciousness. The author frequently uses the Latin epithet “Pius” when he describes Aeneas. It can be translated as “religious” (Charlton, 720).
In the “Aeneid,” Virgil demonstrates that humans cannot choose their destiny. The fate of his main character Aeneas is determined even when it comes to his intimate relationships. Thus, the plot of the epic poem is mostly driven by divine intervention, not heroes’ decisions.
Anderson, William Scovil. “Aeneas.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 18 Feb. 2018, www.britannica.com/topic/Aeneas. Accessed 26 September 2018.
Lewis, Charlton T. Elementary Latin Dictionary. With Brief Helps for Latin Readers. Clarendon Press, 1930.
Titchener, Frances B. Chapter 11: Vergil and The Aeneid. USU, www.usu.edu/markdamen/1320anclit/chapters/11verg.htm. Accessed 26 September 2018.
Virgil. The Aeneid. Translated by John Dryden, Simon & Brown, 2012.
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