Is Femininity as Much of a Threat in "Paradise Lost" as It Is in "The Aeneid"?

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When Virgil and Milton wrote their epic poems, they were both writing for societies which plainly did not believe in equality of the sexes. The seventeenth century poet, John Milton, takes the attitude common to the time period while portraying Eve - the only female character in the whole of Paradise Lost: the belief that women were weak, inferior and even soulless. Likewise, Virgil's portrayal of the women in the Aeneid as temptresses, manipulators, interferers is in agreement with how ancient Roman society viewed women. Both Virgil and Milton inextricably link femininity with emotional instability (Greek word furor) by showing how the women allow themselves to be overcome with emotions which can bring about the downfall of not just the …show more content…
Similarly, Virgil uses the character of Amata to demonstrate how women are more concerned with maintaining their own domestic stability and happiness than achieving the larger `greater good'. Despite the soothsayer's interpretation of Lavinia's hair catching fire ("Propose no Latin alliance for your daughter" (VII, 125-28)), Amata is adamant that Lavinia should still marry Turnus. Indeed, Virgil describes Amata as:

"Burning already at the Trojans' coming,

The plans for Turnus' marriage broken off,

Amata tossed and turned with womanly

Anxiety and anger" (VII, 472-75).

Amata pleads furiously with Latinus, warning that it was a stranger who "carried Helen off to Troy's far city" (VII, 503). Later in Book XII Amata pleads with Turnus to "refrain from single combat with the Trojans" (XII, 87) before she is so driven by despair by the fact that she cannot be mother-in-law to Turnus and kills herself. Thus Virgil describes how women threaten the gods' fates by their refusal to accept destiny when it comes into conflict with their own plans for their future.

Milton also perpetuates the idea that women are interference in God's plans. In Paradise Lost Eve is successful in completely reversing the situation she and Adam found themselves in at the beginning of the epic, with the angel Michael leading them out of the Garden of Eden, away from God's unadulterated presence, respect and conversation. Milton's use of the

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