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Does Aeneas Control His Own Fate In The Aeneid?

1082 words - 4 pages

While reading The Aeneid, a reader may wonder whether Aeneas has control of his own fate or not. The very large number of interactions of the gods and goddesses may sway the reader’s opinion one direction. Jupiter, Juno, and Venus are always interacting with Aeneas’s life. They were notorious for decisions that affected Aeneas’s life like: first arriving in Carthage, leaving Dido, burning down the Trojans ships, and much more. Throughout Virgil’s work The Aeneid, a reader wonders whether it was Aeneas who had any control of his fate because of the numerous interactions of the gods.
In the first book, Aeneas’s journey was intervened by multiple different gods and goddesses. Aeneas did not even want to leave Troy without “the pleading of his wife as well as a divine sign from heaven to persuade him, as well as his father, to flee the city” (Shen). Aeneas had to avoid the wraith of Juno at the beginning of this epic. Juno’s favorite city was Carthage and she knew of the prophecy that the Trojans will someday destroy Carthage. She calls upon Aeolus, the wind god, to attempt to destroy Aeneas. Neptune had to stop Juno’s attempt because “Power over the sea and the cruel trident/ Were never his [Aeolus] by destiny, but mine” (I, 188-189). Venus is worried for her Aeneas, so she tries to get Jupiter to end his suffering. Jupiter tells her this, “In Italy he will fight a massive war, / Beat down fierce armies, then for the people there/ Establish city walls and a way of life” (I, 355-357). Eventually, Venus tells Aeneas to go meet Dido and sends Cupid to make the queen fall in love with Aeneas. The summary of the first book just goes to show you, how little control Aeneas has of his fate. Jupiter telling Venus of the glorious future that was in store for Aeneas was a key point in showing that he has no control because the gods have a plan for him. These interactions caused after effects, positive and negative. Aeneas gets to Italy like he was destined to, but not as easily as it should have been. Now if Aeneas had any control of his fate, I am sure that he would not have gone through all of this trouble just to leave Troy. If Venus never sent Cupid to make Dido fall in love with Aeneas, a war with Phoenician people would have broken out. Venus knew that “the marriage was going to be swept aside… through the will of Jupiter” (Gutting 272). I do not think that Aeneas would have been able to defend himself. If it was not for Juno’s attempt to defy Aeneas’ fate, there would be little to no intervention in his everyday life making it less noticeable.
Jupiter has interfered multiple times within Aeneas’s journey to Italy. When Aeneas was having a relationship with Dido, Jupiter sent Mercury down to remind of him that he has to move on to Italy. Aeneas gets confronted by Dido and he tells her that he has no choice but to go because the gods told him to. He says, “I sail for Italy not of my own free will” (IV.499). This caused Dido to throw a fit...

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