Antithetical Morality Essay

1862 words - 8 pages

The perception of morality is very subjective and relates heavily to what the society of the period defines as good or bad. In the Aenied, Vergil creates two characters with morally opposite values; Aenias and Dido. Aenias can be interpreted as the embodiment of what Vergil believes is right, while Dido is the embodiment of what Vergil believes to be bad. The contrast of Dido’s and Aeneas’ behavior represents the fact that Vergil’s moral values are heavily influenced by the moral values which the romans upheld, as we can see in the character Aeneas which shows many values that was heavily emphasized by the policy that Augustus enforced during Vergil’s time, and the character Dido which shows ...view middle of the document...

” He chose to keep it in and just leave, because his purpose of leaving Dido is for the “greater good” of his people, the Trojans.
The contrasting values upheld by Dido and Aenias showed the opposite end of the spectrum which the romans believe is good and bad. Aenias portrayed the “good” side, by thinking about his people first even though he would prefer to stay with dido and comfort her. On the other hand, Dido gave in to her personal desires by sacrificing her kingdom and her people for Aenias. During Augustus’ period, he enforced the value of patriotism among the romans and thus Vergil’s morality is influenced by this, as he chose to create the hero, Aenias, as a character who embodies this value, and thus it suggests that Vergil also embodies a sense of patriotism because his depiction of what is morally good is the abandonment of one’s personal desires and instead prioritize the greater good.
Another value that is emphasized by Augustus during his rule was piety; he emphasized the state religion, and deified himself and his step-father, Julius Caesar. This value has also managed to manifest in the Aenied also in the character Aenias. While Aenias was getting distracted by his affair with Dido, Jupiter, through Mercury, sends a message to Aenias to remember his original purpose to go to Italy. “He must sail!” decreed Jupiter, which was then passed on to Aenias through mercury. As soon as Mercury left, Aenias was stricken and immediately ordered the Trojans to prepare to leave. In that immediate moment, he did not even think of Dido that much, although he did contemplate on her and tried to figure out a way to tell her.
Throughout the book, we also see Aenias pleading for the god for the sake of his people and to support him during his journeys, such as when he ask for help from his mother, Venus, to help guide him in finding the Golden Bough. On the other hand, Dido pleaded to the gods to punish Aenias and make Carthage and Rome an everlasting enemy. She too forgot about the gods while she was with Aenias. This is not explicitly stated in the Aenied, but through her actions, such as abandoning her people and her dignity, it implied that she was too consummated by the passion that she let go of all her primal obligation. As a queen, she is expected to act in a way that will benefit her people, and by misusing (or in a way NOT using) her authority for the benefit of the people, she has forsaken the gods because she only cared about her own desires. On the latter stages, when Aenias left her and she was left devastated, then she remembered the gods. Although, instead of praying to the gods for something positive, she chose to curse Aenias and the descendants of his kingdom and then killed herself. Her prayer was made in blind anger and desperation, while Aenias had a meaningful justification when he prayed to the gods to grant them safe passage.
As observed between the two characters, here again Aenias embodies the Roman values while Dido...

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