Essential Quotes by Character: Aeneas

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Essential Passage 1:Book I

Arms, and the man I sing, who, forc'd by fate,
And haughty Juno's unrelenting hate,
Expell'd and exil'd, left the Trojan shore.
Long labors, both by sea and land, he bore,
And in the doubtful war, before he won
The Latian realm, and built the destin'd town;
His banish'd gods restor'd to rites divine,
And settled sure succession in his line,
From whence the race of Alban fathers come,
And the long glories of majestic Rome.


Aeneas begins his tale by stating his purpose: to relate his journey from defeated Troy (following the Trojan War) to Italy, where he was to lay the foundations of the city that would become Rome. He says every step of his journey has been made difficult by the wrath of Juno, who had taken sides against Troy in the war in favor of Greece. To the very end, Juno solicited other gods and goddesses to aid her in hindering Aeneas from fulfilling his destiny as the founder of Rome. Weathering the storms and difficulties of the sea voyage, Aeneas must then face a war not of his choosing against the Latins who resided in Italy at the time.

Essential Passage 2: Book I

Thus while he dealt it round, the pious chief
With cheerful words allay'd the common grief:
"Endure, and conquer! Jove will soon dispose
To future good our past and present woes.
With me, the rocks of Scylla you have tried;
Th' inhuman Cyclops and his den defied.
What greater ills hereafter can you bear?
Resume your courage and dismiss your care,
An hour will come, with pleasure to relate
Your sorrows past, as benefits of Fate.
Thro' various hazards and events, we move
To Latium and the realms foredoom'd by Jove.
Call'd to the seat (the promise of the skies)
Where Trojan kingdoms once again may rise,
Endure the hardships of your present state;
Live, and reserve yourselves for better fate."
These words he spoke, but spoke not from his heart;
His outward smiles conceal'd his inward smart.


Aeneas and his flotilla of the remnant inhabitants of Troy have survived the storm sent them by Juno. Landing on the North African coast of Libya and then climbing up a steep mountain crag, Aeneas looks for signs of the remaining ships, for only seven have arrived intact. Seeing nothing, he returns to the Trojans and gives them words of encouragement. They have faced rougher conditions before and come out alive, he tells them. He has faith that some god will grant them a successful end to their present trial. He encourages them to put aside grief and fear. Fate has destined them to land in Latium and live in peace. They should save their strength for better times to come. Although sick with worry, he hides his feelings for the benefit of his people.

Essential Passage 3:Book XII

Aeneas then unsheath'd his shining sword,
And thus with pious pray'rs the gods ador'd:
"All-seeing sun, and thou, Ausonian soil,
For which I have sustain'd so long a toil,
Thou, King of Heav'n, and thou, the Queen of Air,
Propitious now, and reconcil'd by pray'r;
Thou, God of War, whose unresisted sway
The labors and events of arms obey;
Ye living fountains, and ye running floods,
All pow'rs of ocean, all ethereal gods,
Hear, and bear record: if I fall in field,
Or, recreant in the fight, to Turnus yield,
My Trojans shall encrease Evander's town;
Ascanius shall renounce th' Ausonian crown:
All claims, all questions of debate, shall cease;
Nor he, nor they, with force...

(This entire section contains 1294 words.)

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infringe the peace.
But, if my juster arms prevail in fight,
(As sure they shall, if I divine aright,)
My Trojans shall not o'er th' Italians reign:
Both equal, both unconquer'd shall remain,
Join'd in their laws, their lands, and their abodes;
I ask but altars for my weary gods.
The care of those religious rites be mine;
The crown to King Latinus I resign:
His be the sov'reign sway. Nor will I share
His pow'r in peace, or his command in war.
For me, my friends another town shall frame,
And bless the rising tow'rs with fair Lavinia's name."


The final battle for Latium has arrived. Aeneas meets with Latinus to renew the treaty that they originally had agreed upon. He calls on the gods to bear witness to this final agreement. If Turnus wins the battle, then the Trojans will depart and not in the future try to capture the region. However, if Aeneas is victorious, then the Trojans and the Latins will live in peace and equality. He will not assume the role of conqueror. He will ensure that the gods of the Latins will still have their sacred rites, and Latinus will keep his armies and his power. The Trojans will erect a new city, where Aeneas and Lavinia, Latinus’s daughter, may live in peace to produce a new line of future rulers. Latinus agrees and swears the same. The two armies then will join to fight against Turnus. As a sign of their agreement, they offer sacrifices to the gods.

Analysis of Essential Passages

Aeneas is presented as an almost reluctant hero in the tale, forced into the role of leadership by the death of the Trojan King Priam and his sons. As the husband of Priam’s daughter, Aeneas is seen as the natural remaining heir by the Trojan remnant, who gather on the shore waiting for his direction. As Aeneas takes up the mantle, his focus is not for his own glory, but for the fulfillment of the duty that has been thrust upon him.

The son of Venus, Aeneas is subject to the whims and vagaries of the gods and goddesses of Olympus, especially Juno, who has sworn enmity against Troy and all its people. Aeneas’s loyalty, however, is to his mother Venus and to Jupiter, who has destined him to lead the people to Italy to found a great nation that will eventually become Rome. Each step of the way, Aeneas is subject to Juno’s jealousies.

His adventure with Dido, the queen of Carthage, shows how vulnerable and how human Aeneas actually is. Tempted to remain with and build up the Phoenician empire, he loses sight temporarily of his goal to proceed to Italy. Dido’s infatuation and interference with his mission is not the result of Aeneas’s actions, nor even of Dido’s choice, but is yet another incident in which Juno tries to throw the Trojan off track. With the reminder of where his duty lies, Aeneas continues to Italy, only to be faced with an equivocating Latinus, who promises Aeneas his daughter Lavinia as his bride and then joins Turnus in an attempt to repel the “invading” Trojan forces.

In the final battle, Aeneas again shows his compassion and honor as he pledges to Latinus that the two sides will live in peace and equality. He is not interested in conquest for his own glory. His call is to fulfill the destiny placed upon him, hopefully with as little displacement and destruction as possible, though Turnus makes this difficult. In the end, Aeneas emerges victorious in battle, but there is after all much that has been destroyed.

Aeneas’s strength lies in his devotion to duty and in his compassion to those he must vanquish. His human frailties, it is true, cause heartache and hardship for those caught in the wake of Aeneas’s destiny, but he does not give the appearance of coldheartedness that was common in ancient tales. His piety to the gods and his commitment to their calling present an example of a hero that the Romans long held to be a model for their own actions.

Essential Quotes by Theme: Duty

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Essential Passage 1: Book I

O Muse! the causes and the crimes relate;
What goddess was provok'd, and whence her hate;
For what offense the Queen of Heav'n began
To persecute so brave, so just a man;
Involv'd his anxious life in endless cares,
Expos'd to wants, and hurried into wars!
Can heav'nly minds such high resentment show,
Or exercise their spite in human woe?


As the tale begins, the poet asks the Muse, the spirit of inspiration, the causes of all the ill that was faced by Aeneas in his journey to Italy. Juno, the “Queen of Heav’n,” became his nemesis on the voyage, conspiring each step of the way to halt the Trojan’s destiny to found a new Troy in Latium. Aeneas is called “the pious” in the original Latin, here translated “just.” That such a dutiful man should be exposed to such struggles and forced into wars not of his choosing seems unjust to the poet. It is inconceivable that the immortal gods would cause such woe to such a noble hero. Juno's simple jealousy forces the gods and goddesses of Olympus to take sides as the surviving Trojans journey to find a new home.

Essential Passage 2:Book IV

Here paus'd the queen. Unmov'd he holds his eyes,
By Jove's command; nor suffer'd love to rise,
Tho' heaving in his heart; and thus at length replies:
"Fair queen, you never can enough repeat
Your boundless favors, or I own my debt;
Nor can my mind forget Eliza's name,
While vital breath inspires this mortal frame.
This only let me speak in my defense:
I never hop'd a secret flight from hence,
Much less pretended to the lawful claim
Of sacred nuptials, or a husband's name.
For, if indulgent Heav'n would leave me free,
And not submit my life to fate's decree,
My choice would lead me to the Trojan shore,
Those relics to review, their dust adore,
And Priam's ruin'd palace to restore.
But now the Delphian oracle commands,
And fate invites me to the Latian lands.
That is the promis'd place to which I steer,
And all my vows are terminated there.
If you, a Tyrian, and a stranger born,
With walls and tow'rs a Libyan town adorn,
Why may not we- like you, a foreign race-
Like you, seek shelter in a foreign place?
As often as the night obscures the skies
With humid shades, or twinkling stars arise,
Anchises' angry ghost in dreams appears,
Chides my delay, and fills my soul with fears;
And young Ascanius justly may complain
Of his defrauded and destin'd reign.
Ev'n now the herald of the gods appear'd:
Waking I saw him, and his message heard.
From Jove he came commission'd, heav'nly bright
With radiant beams, and manifest to sight
(The sender and the sent I both attest)
These walls he enter'd, and those words express'd.
Fair queen, oppose not what the gods command;
Forc'd by my fate, I leave your happy land."


Shipwrecked by Juno's storm, Aeneas and seven of his ships land on the Lybian coast. Thinking that all were lost, Aeneas enters into the city of Carthage, ruled by Dido, who had fled from an abusive brother in Tyre. Juno has persuaded Cupid to shoot his dart of love into Dido so that she is consumed with lust for Aeneas. Aeneas, overjoyed on finding his crew in Carthage, agrees to Dido’s plea that he stay there and take part in the building of the city. At last he is persuaded by Hermes, the messenger from Jupiter, that he has forsaken his duty in remaining in Carthage. He must leave the city at once and resume his destined journey to Italy. Dido hears rumors of Aeneas’s intended escape and confronts him. Aeneas is truthful about his plans, but the queen of Carthage is overwrought. Aeneas thanks her for her many kindnesses. Although Dido thinks that by having sex they have entered into a marriage, Aeneas reminds her that he never took the marriage vow. His duty is first to Troy and to its gods, which are to be transplanted to Italy. He reminds Dido that her first duty is to the building of Carthage, which can be accomplished without his help. He pleads with her that neither one of them should disobey the gods in building their respective cities.

Essential Passage 3: Book XII

To whom the king sedately thus replied:
"Brave youth, the more your valor has been tried,
The more becomes it us, with due respect,
To weigh the chance of war, which you neglect.
You want not wealth, or a successive throne,
Or cities which your arms have made your own:
My towns and treasures are at your command,
And stor'd with blooming beauties is my land;
Laurentum more than one Lavinia sees,
Unmarried, fair, of noble families.
Now let me speak, and you with patience hear,
Things which perhaps may grate a lover's ear,
But sound advice, proceeding from a heart
Sincerely yours, and free from fraudful art.
The gods, by signs, have manifestly shown,
No prince Italian born should heir my throne:
Oft have our augurs, in prediction skill'd,
And oft our priests, foreign son reveal'd.
Yet, won by worth that cannot be withstood,
Brib'd by my kindness to my kindred blood,
Urg'd by my wife, who would not be denied,
I promis'd my Lavinia for your bride:
Her from her plighted lord by force I took;
All ties of treaties, and of honor, broke:
On your account I wag'd an impious war-
With what success, 't is needless to declare;
I and my subjects feel, and you have had your share.


The final battle has come. Turnus, who seeks revenge on Aeneas because Latinus has promised him Lavinia, whom Turnus had counted on as his bride, sees his troops begin to founder. He turns to Latinus, telling him that only if he dies should Lavinia become Aeneas’s bride. Latinus commends Turnus’s bravery, but tells him that this battle is to no purpose. Turnus has his father’s lands to rule; there are other maidens for him to marry. Since Latinus received omens from the gods that it is not their desire for Lavinia to marry a Latin, it would be wrong of her father to give Lavinia to any of her former Latin suitors. It is the will of the gods that Lavinia, Latinus’s sole heir, should marry the foreigner that has been sent by the gods to produce a new race of rulers. His sole duty is thus to the gods and to their will for the future of Italy.

Analysis of Essential Passages

The theme of duty presented throughout the Aeneid is in stark contrast to the quest for glory that is prevalent in Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, two works on which Virgil based his epic. Bound to fulfill the destiny placed upon him, Aeneas nevertheless has a love-hate relationship with the Roman divinity. Caught in the middle of the continuing war between Juno and Jupiter, Aeneas is constantly having to realign himself in the course of events to carry out the wishes of the supreme god.

Once aware of the prophecy that he will become the father of a great nation, Aeneas does not take his duty lightly. Rather than letting destiny come to him, he goes forth to meet it, regardless of roadblocks and setbacks. Though he is a flawed human being, swayed to remain in Carthage with Dido (as intended by Juno), he eventually remembers his duty to go to Italy. Regardless of the emotional blackmail that Dido attempts, Aeneas leaves her to her own destiny. Aeneas knows that humans are often the playthings of the gods, yet this does not sway him from fulfilling his duty. He fights against man and god in order to meet his destiny.

It is not only Aeneas that has a duty to perform. Latinus also sees that it is the gods’ will that his daughter Lavinia become the mother of a new nation by marrying a foreigner. At the risk of offending Turnus (as Aeneas risked offending Dido), Latinus answers the call to duty, though (like Aeneas) he is sidetracked by the interference of Juno in provoking a war between the Latins and the Trojans. As Aeneas returns to his task, so does Latinus in eventually reaffirming the alliance he formed with Aeneas. As Dido loses her life because of Aeneas's devotion to duty, so Turnus dies in the battle with Aeneas.

The fact that Aeneas and Latinus remain standing at the end of the epic, while Dido and Turnus are both dead, reinforces the theme that duty is paramount in the priorities that must be set by the hero. Interfering with the duty of another will only result in tragedy. Aeneas and Latinus both were called to sacrifice the fate that each had chosen: Aeneas’s life in Troy and Latinus’s life in Italy. The death of a dream, however, gives rise to a greater vision. As Aeneas’s Troy and Latinus’s Italy die, out of the ashes will rise the great and mighty Rome.


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