The Gods In The Aeneid

1453 Words 6 Pages
The epic poet, Virgil, lived through a tumultuous period of Roman history. He watched the Republic transition into the hands of Caesar Augustus and the way society changed along the way. As Rome evolved before his eyes, Virgil did not approve of his people’s newfound lack of religious virtue. Thus, as he constructed The Aeneid, Virgil reinforced the traditional Roman idea that the gods are significant. He accomplished this by giving the gods complete authority over Aeneas, portraying him not as a model Roman hero, but as a passive hero who is dutiful to the gods’ commands. The importance of the gods is apparent from the first few lines of the poem, “On land and sea, divine will – /And Juno’s unforgetting rage – harassed him/… Muses, tell …show more content…
He is naturally reluctant about this mission because he didn’t choose it for himself – the gods did. Enemies drove him from his home, where he desired to die honorably, into a fierce journey full of inevitable suffering but triumphant glory. Aeneas’ sense of distress is clear as he flees his burning city, calling out, “Three times and four times blessed/Are those who perished in their fathers’ sight/Beneath Troy’s walls. You, Diomedes, boldest/Of Greeks, could you not spill my soul and let me/Fall on the fields of Troy” (I.94-98). Virgil shows that Aeneas did not want this fate granted upon him, going as far as wishing himself dead. Thus, he only went forth because he had no other option. This demonstrates how the gods took full control over Aeneas’ life, leaving him with a submissive sense of heroism. It is clear that if Virgil wanted the reader to see him as a model Roman hero, he would have made Aeneas capable of making his own decisions and fight for something that he cared about.
Instead, Virgil gave full control to the gods and simply made Aeneas stay dutiful to their commands. Virgil crafted Aeneas as a leader who is dutiful to the mere principle of duty – a passive hero. In other words, Aeneas is good at doing what the gods tell him to and encouraging others to follow, even if he is not passionate about what he is being told to
…show more content…
/She will be mine, through passion for Aeneas” (I.673-675). Venus’ manipulation of both Juno and Dido is unnecessarily cruel as it ultimately leads to Dido’s unjust suicide. If not for Venus’s sick game, Dido’s life would have been spared and Aeneas’ time not wasted. Virgil uses this to show that godly power can be selfish and destructive. He demonstrates how the gods’ actions are driven by emotions like anger, revenge, or the plain sick desire to meddle. In this sense, they are human-like with their

Related Documents