The Importance Of Passion For Death In Virgil's Aeneid

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In Virgil’s Aeneid, Nisus asks the question, “Do the gods / Put this fire in our hearts, Euryalus, / Or do our passions become our gods?” (Aeneid 9.244-226). Nisus is asking whether passions motivate human actions, or whether the gods make humans do what they do. While examining the cause of Dido’s death, Nisus’ question arises: Did Dido kill herself because her own passion drove herself to death, or because the gods instilled that passion in her? Distinguishing between her own passion and the gods’ passions are impossible. Dido possesses a passion for love and fear of humiliation, which cause her death; but it is impossible in distinguishing if her passion for love is her own or placed in her by the gods. For one cannot fully separate the …show more content…
Her passion for love causes her passion for death. After emptying the house, “Dido trembled, panicked at the enormity / Of what she had begun…” for she realizes there is no going back now, and is somewhat fearful of facing her death (Aen. 4.745-746). While climbing into the pyre, Dido declares, “I have lived, and I have completed the course / Assigned by Fortune...” (Aen.4.757-758). Through her death, Dido is also causing the death of Carthage as Anna angrily points out to her as she’s dying (Aen.4.795). Dido ultimately kills herself, but cannot fully be blamed for her …show more content…
Although Dido is the one who kills herself, it is impossible to know whether she did this because she possessed a sudden passion for death, or, if this passion is brought on because of her passionate love for Aeneas and him leaving her, both of which occur because of the gods. This is exactly what Nisus asks, if “the gods / Put this fire in our hearts.../ Or do our passions become our gods?” (Aeneid 9.244-226). It is impossible to determine if Dido kills herself because of her love for Aeneas that is brought to her by the gods or if she killed herself completely on her own accord, as she did die before her time.The gods evoking their passions in Dido, causes her to truly love Aeneas, as she crafted purple robes for Aeneas, “with her own hands, a labor of love, / Embroidering them with stiff threads of gold” (Aen.11.84-85). Regardless of if this love would have occurred without the gods evoking their passions in Dido, Dido would have still died, perhaps by different means, but still died

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