What is the theme of “The Aeneid”?
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The Aeneid has several themes. The overarching theme is the escape from Troy and the beginnings of Rome. The story tells of how Aeneas and a few other Trojans escape the destruction of their city and sail west, settling in what became Rome.
Another theme is destiny or fate. As the writer of the eNotes quicknotes commentary states, The Aeneid was written "to justify the evident decree of fate that Rome should conquer and rule the known world." The Trojans stopped in several places and stayed in some for quite a while. However, it was not possible for them to establish homes anywhere but in Italy. They were supposed to live there. "With the outcome preordained, the task of the hero is to know the will of destiny and do what must be done to secure the proper conclusion."
Another theme might be called how the Romans got their religion. The Romans worshiped the same gods and goddesses as the Greeks, but changed their names. The fact that Rome was founded by people from Troy, who also worshiped Greek deities, explained why the Romans worshiped they way they did.
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The main theme of the Iliad is concluded in pietas and furor. Pietas means, loyalty towards once, country, family and gods. Furor means: rage. Aeneas is a typical example of a hero displaying pietas, for example. When he rescues his father Anchises and his son Ascanius in his escape. Ascanius is clearly a motivating force for Aeneas.
The two major themes/topics are reported in the very first line of the Aeneid (arma virumque):
Arma = arms/weapons = Trojan War
virum = man = Aeneas
The Trojan War reflects the role of the gods in man's life as well as conflict (both between men and gods).
Aeneas is the epitome of piety (devotion to gods, country and family).
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