The Aeneid-the Role of Fate
Fate is the essential idea of The Aeneid, but more importantly, the underlying force throughout the text. Fate cannot be changed; it is the set of events with the inevitable result. Virgil uses the idea of fate to narrate and advance through his epic poem, but perhaps also to illustrate that the gods had originally intended for Rome to become a great and powerful empire.
The king of gods, Jupiter, has chosen Aeneas and his preordained path to destiny, by leading the Trojans and creating the foundations for the Roman Empire.However, a variety of gods interfere with Aeneas’s direction of fate in order to satisfy their own desires, only to discover that Aeneas’s fate can be manipulated, but never overturned. Aeneas is born from the gods as a leader of the Trojans, therefore respects the gods and their desires.
The gods and goddesses frequently appear to Aeneas, reinstating his fate and the obstacles he must overcome to succeed. Although Aeneas knows what he is destined to achieve, he must make choices and emotional decisions that are incompatible with his fate.Unfortunately, these choices have a negative impact on those closest to Aeneas. For example, if it wasn’t for fate, Aeneas and Dido would have lived out their lives together in Carthage, therefore never founding the city of Rome. However because of fate, Aeneas and his fleet leave Carthage in the middle of the night causing Dido so much despair that she takes her own life. Juno, the queen of the gods, holds a great resentment toward the city of Troy. Particularly due to the fact that Juno knows that her favorite city, Carthage, will one day be destroyed by the descendants of Aeneas.
In addition to the destruction of Carthage; Paris, a Trojan, had also elected Venus over Juno as the most beautiful goddess. Juno possesses a great deal of anger toward the Trojans because of this and will stop at nothing from preventing Aeneas from his awaited fate. Once Aeneas and his fleet begin to retreat from their city of Troy, is when Juno begins to unleash her vindictive attempt to stop Aeneas and the Trojans from fulfilling their appointed destiny. Juno calls Aeolus, the god of winds, to bring down a ferocious storm upon Aeneas as he sails out of Troy.Venus immediately gets wind of what Juno is doing and begs her husband, Jupiter, to stop Juno at once. Venus is fearful for her son and questions Jupiter as to why she harbors such hatred for Aeneas. Jupiter explains to Venus that his fate will not be affected from the storm and reiterates the further fates that await Aeneas.
My Cytherea, that’s enough of fear; your children’s fate is firm; you’ll surely see the walls I promised you, Lavinium’s city; and you shall carry your carry your great-hearted son, Aeneas, high as heaven’s stars.My will is still the same; I have not changed. Your son (I now speak anxiousness is gnawing at you; I unroll the secret scroll of Fates, awake its distant pages) shall wage tremendous war in Italy and crush ferocious nations and establish a way of life and walls for his own people – until the time of his third summer as the king of Latium, until he has passed three winters since he overcame the Latins (Virgil 10). In order for Aeneas to achieve his destiny he must lose those closest to him. During the burning of Troy, Aeneas searches anxiously for his wife, Creusa.She appears to him later in spirit and notifies him that the gods have high expectations waiting for him elsewhere and he must leave without her. Furthermore, if Aeneas found Creusa, they may have both died in Troy or may not have had such a warm welcoming when arriving in Carthage, thus altering his fate and never fulfilling his destiny.
Venus is worried about what Juno has planned to sabotage Aeneas’s quest. Fearful that Juno may turn the Phoenicians against Aeneas while residing in Carthage, she sends down her son, Cupid, the god of love, to strike love in the heart of Dido.Venus is unaware of her actions, and Juno sees this as an opportunity to keep Aeneas away from his awaited destiny by marrying Dido and settling in Carthage. Nevertheless, neither Venus nor Juno realizes that Aeneas is compelled to his fate and will eventually leave Dido. Jupiter is observant of Aeneas and Dido’s love affair and decides to send down Mercury to remind Aeneas that his fate does not reside in Carthage and he must leave immediately. Are you now laying the foundation of high Carthage, as servant to a woman, building her a splendid city here?Are you forgetful of what is your own kingdom, your own fate? The very gods, whose power sways both earth and heaven, sends me down to you from bright Olympus. He himself has asked me to carry these commands through the swift air: what are you pondering or hoping for while squandering your ease in Libyan land? For if the brightness of such deeds is not enough to kindle you – if you cannot attempt the task for your own fame – remember Ascanius growing up, the hopes you hold for Iulus, your own heir, to whom are owed the realm of Italy and the land of Rome (Virgil 88).
Aeneas is fully aware that his time in Carthage has now come to an end and he must leave Dido, despite of how they feel for each other. Unfortunately for Dido, when she realizes that Aeneas and his fleet are about to sail away, she becomes enraged and can’t bear to live out her life without him. Watching Aeneas and his fleet sail away, Dido feels completely hopeless and is in utter despair. Feeling unable to recover from her second loss in love, she decides her only option is to end her suffering by throwing herself upon Aeneas’s sword.This undoubtedly proves that Aeneas symbolizes Rome, and Dido symbolizes Carthage; confirming the fate of Carthage’s destruction due to Rome. Perhaps the most significant example of the importance of fate in The Aeneid happens in Book VI; the golden branch. Aeneas and his fleet arrive on the coast on Cumae in search of the Sibyl at the Temple of Apollo.
Following his father’s instructions, Aeneas asks the Sibyl to gain him entrance to Dis so he may visit his father’s spirit. However, in order to enter Dis with any possibility of returning, Aeneas must first locate a sign to gain him access across the Acheron River.The Sibyl then explains to Aeneas that the sign is a golden branch in a nearby forest, if the branch breaks off the tree easily then fate awards Aeneas a pass into the underworld. If the branch does not break off then Aeneas is not destined to go. A bough is hidden in a shady tree; its leaves and pliant stem are golden, set aside as sacred to Proserpina. The grove serves as its screen, and shades enclose the bough in darkened valleys. Only he may pass beneath earth’s secret space who first plucks the golden-leaved fruit of that tree.
Lovely Proserpina ordained that this be offered her as gift.And when the first bough is torn off, a second grows again – with leaves of gold, again of that same metal. So let your eyes search overhead; and when the bough is found, then pluck it down by hand as due: for if the Fates have summoned you, the bough will break off freely, easily; but otherwise, no power can overcome it, hard iron cannot help to tear it off (Virgil 136). Fate plays a crucial role during this text. Aeneas is lead off into the vast forest by a pair of doves to the preferred tree. Without the doves, it would seem impossible that Aeneas could ever find the golden branch, signifying that fate brought him to the tree undoubtedly.Once at the tree, the golden branch easily breaks off proving that his fate allows him entrance into the underworld.
Once arriving into the underworld, Aeneas is brought to his father with the Sibyl to Blessed Groves. This is where Aeneas’s father explains the reason behind his quest to Rome. Aeneas now will understand the profound significance behind his journey to Rome. Aeneas discovers that Romulus, a Trojan descendant, will found Rome and a Caesar will eventually ascend from Ascanius. Also, Aeneas learns that Rome will eventually reach a Golden Age and rule over the world. Aeneas now is fully aware of the destiny that lies before him.Juno understands now that she cannot stop Aeneas from fulfilling his destiny.
She is completely aware now that she cannot change his fate and it’s inevitable that Aeneas will one day marry Lavinia. However, Juno is still irate with Aeneas and the Trojans and will stop at nothing from causing Aeneas, and anyone else in her way, a vast amount of pain and suffering. In order to at least delay the foundation of Rome, Juno sends down Allecto to strike anger into the heart of Queen Amata. Allecto then advances to Turnus, provoking the idea of losing his wife, Lavinia, and surrendering to a Trojan King.Thus of course, enrages Turnus inducing a war against the Trojans. If my power is not enough, I shall not hesitate to plead for more, from anywhere; if I cannot bend High Ones, then I shall move hell. I cannot keep him from the Latin kingdoms: so be it, let Lavinia be his wife, as fates have fixed.
But I can still hold off that moment and delay these great events, can still strike down the nations of both kings (Virgil 171). In spite of Aeneas’s fate, Venus is still worried about the upcoming war. She insists that Vulcan, the god of fire, supplies Aeneas with new indestructible weapons and armor to add to his advantage.Immediately, Vulcan and his workers begin producing elaborate armor and weapons to aid Aeneas in his upcoming battle. Once finished, Venus appears to Aeneas and presents him with his new beautifully crafted weaponry, armor, and shields. By accepting his new gifts, Aeneas is symbolically embarking on accomplishing his destiny and fate. At last, Juno now fully accepts the fate of Aeneas and the Trojan victory over Turnus and the Latins.
Juno is however worried about the safety of Turnus, she now is completely aware that Aeneas outmatches Turnus.She calls upon Juturna, Turnus’s sister, to take heed on Turnus despite knowing that Aeneas will be victorious. Juturna appears to the Latins as a noble officer, swaying the Latins to break off the treaty between the Trojans and convince them to attack while the Trojans are off guard. Once attacking the Trojans off guard triggers an all out war between both sides. By the conclusion of the epic, Juno surrenders to Jupiter, promising him that she will no longer interfere with the fate of Aeneas, however, requests that Latins are able to keep their name and language.This portrays the end to Aeneas’s final obstacle in order to achieve his fate, thus ending the key conflict in The Aeneid. And now I yield; detesting wars, I give them up.
And only this – which fates do not forbid – I beg you, for Latium, for your own father’s greatness, for the race of Saturn: when with their happy wedding rites they reach a peace – so be it – when they both unite in laws and treaties, do not let the native-born Latins lose their ancient name, become Trojans, or be called Teucrians; do not make such men change their language or their dress.Let Latium still be, let Alban kings still rule for ages; let the sons of Rome be powerful in their Italian courage. Troy now is fallen; let her name fall too (Virgil 326). Fate is unquestionably the driving force behind The Aeneid. Virgil illustrates efficiently the preordained actions needed for Aeneas to successfully conquer his destiny and achieve his fate. Although Aeneas was compelled to lose a few loved ones and forced to deal with many hardships throughout his destiny, he was still capable of enduring his fate.Despite Juno’s egotistical meddling and interference with Aeneas’s fate, she eventually realizes that fate is inevitable and not even she, a goddess, can prevent someone from accomplishing their destiny.
No human or even godly obstructions can alter the fate of another. Throughout the text, Aeneas is shown as great and powerful leader, proving why Jupiter had originally chosen him to found the city of Rome. Works Cited Virgil, The Aeneid of Virgil. Trans. Allen Mandelbaum, 1981. Print.