Juggling Gods And Fate Essay

1046 words - 4 pages

It is consistently unclear in old world literature, From Homeric epics to Virgil's work the Aeneid, what the relation of fate is to the Pantheon of gods. There seems to be an ongoing debate within the text discussing whether `Fate' is the supreme ruling force in the universe and the controlling element of the lives of men or whether fate is the will of the king of gods, Jupiter. Reasons for this confusion are a bit unclear and could range to anything from a threat by an outside influence holding power over the author, such as Virgil's patron Octavian, a general, public confusion on the matter during the time when the Aeneid was written, or simply the author`s lack of understanding the topic. The befuddlement of the Romans on this topic becomes apparent with a close reading of the Aeneid and observation of the contradictions contained within it.

Quite pertinent to the discussion of fate's place in Virgil's writing is discovering the two different views presented regarding where Jove resides in the matter. There are two possibilities presented in the text. In one case Jupiter is the supreme ruler of the cosmos and `fate' is that which he wills. This could mean a long detailed plan involving the actions of men and the founding and destruction of civilizations, or merely a whimsical commotion with which he amuses himself. In the conversation between Juno and Venus:

"Would one city

Satisfy Jupiter's will for Tyrians

And Trojan exiles? Does he approve

A union and mingling of these races?"#

It seems fairly explicit in this instance that the will of Jove takes precedence over the wills of all others. But does this constitute fate? At this point in the story the two goddesses, seem to refer to Jove's will in the light that it supercedes all; that it is the ultimate `fate' that all are governed by. Venus and Juno are apparently concerned with their actions only in reference to a possible disruption of the future contrived by Jove.

The second possibility is that fate is an entity in the universe which ordains the accomplishments of men and asserts a specific plan for each mans life. In this case the Pantheon is subject to the intents of this supreme or objective fate and only has the jurisdiction to ensure the fulfillment of its design. One piece of evidence for this proposition is an example of Jove himself referring to the fates as separate from his own will:

" Approach the Dardan captain where he tarries

Rapt in Tyrian Carthage, losing sight

Of future towns the fates ordain. Correct him,

Carry my speech to him on running winds" (IV, 305)

In this case there seems to be an entity to which all things, both men and deities are subject to.

There are instances in the text that point to either of these two conclusions about fate. But, there are also many instances in the story that are rather ambiguous toward a definitive conclusion. It is rather unclear if the author is allowing the reader...

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