These two emotions are consistently at odds with each other. Manycharacters within the epic, such as Juno, are consumed by their own fury, atrait which Virgil sheds negative light on. Aeneas, the hero and centralcharacter, on the other hand, is a man who is presented as pious and dutiful. Heobeys the Gods and journeys to Rome. However, at the end of the novel, Aeneashimself is overtaken by rage, and he kills out of vengeance. Virgil’s goal inwriting the Aeneid is to present Aeneas as a pious individual, and thus givingRome a glorious founding.
By closing the novel with an act of rage, however,Virgil portrays Aeneas as a ruthless killer. The ending is inappropriate becauseit casts doubt on the very reason for which Virgil wrote the Aeneid. Aeneas ispresented as someone who is the model of pietas. A Roman must show piety towardshis family, his country, and above all, piety to the Gods. When Aeneas visitsCarthage, he falls in love with Queen Dido, and plans to remain there for anindefinite amount of time.
However, he is quickly reminded of the more importanttask at hand. Are you forgetful Of what is your own kingdom, your own fate?remember Ascanius growing up, the hopes you hold For Iulus, your own heir, towhom are owed The realm of Italy and land of Rome. (Aeneid, 4:353-369) Mercury,the messenger god, is scolding Aeneas for remaining in Carthage. Mercury remindshim that he must remember his “fate,” and that he should leave for Italyimmediately. He also reminds Aeneas of his son Ascanius, and that he shouldleave for Latium so that his son can eventually rule over the “realm ofItaly.
” Aeneas now must make a decision, does he stay with Dido, the woman heloves, or does he continue his journey to found Rome? Even though Aeneas”longs to soften, soothe sorrow” (Aeneid, 4:540) because he caresfor her, “pious Aeneas carries out the gods’/instructions” (Aeneid,4:544-545). Pietas is love for Gods and putting aside your own heart to complywith the will of Gods. Therefore, Aeneas gives up Dido and instead chooses Romeand its glorious future. He is being dutiful by following the words of Mercury,who in turn represents Jove, God of Olympus.
Virgil clearly intends this to beseen as a commendable trait. In addition, Aeneas is explicitly referred to as”pious” within the text. This description of Aeneas is appropriate, becauseby choosing the Gods over Dido, he has now become worthy of the term piety. Virgil is attempting to make a distinction between Aeneas and the othercharacters of the Aeneid. While other’s may indulge their anger, Aeneas hascontrol over his emotions. One different point of view that can be presentedagainst Aeneas’s piety is his killing in the war against the Latins.
Aeneaskills many of Turnus’ men in the course of the battle. However, Aeneas, in hisbattle with Lausus, feels compassion for the man he has beaten. “Poor boy, forsuch an act what can the pious/ Aeneas give to match so bright a nature?/ Keepas your own the arms that made you glad;/ and to the shades and ashes of yourparents I give you back-” (Aeneid, 10:1132-1136). Aeneas has mortally woundedthe man, but he still shows compassion towards him.
Instead of taking Lausus’sweapons, Aeneas allows him to keep them, and he gives the man his blessing. Forthis reason, Aeneas displays piety, even when he takes the life of a man. Incontrast to pious Aeneas, Juno, Goddess of marriage, is someone who is overtakenby her own anger. She does not want the Trojans to reach the site of Rome, andher dislike of them is recounted early in the epic. And Saturn’s daughter-remembering the old war. .
. the causes of her bitterness, her sharp and savagehurt,. . .
for deep within her mind lie stored the judgment of Paris and the wrongdone to her scorned beauty, the breed she hated. (Aeneid, 1:35-43) Thisdescription illustrates to what extent Juno loathes the Trojans. Juno isextremely upset because Paris denied her the golden apple. For this reason, sheharbors “bitterness” against the people, and she plans to make their journeyto Italy long and arduous. Virgil also uses strong words, such as “hate” and”savage,” to describe Juno’s anger towards the Trojans. Her rage onlycontinues to grow, and Juno asks Aeolus, god of winds, to destroy the entireTrojan fleet in one great storm.
“You Aeolus-/. . . Hammer your winds to fury/and ruin their swamped ships, or scatter them/ and fling their crews piecemealacross the seas” (Aeneid, 1:95-103). Juno’s anger is so great that she wantsAeneas and his men, the only surviving Trojans, to be annihilated. She plans todestroy the entire Dardan race.
Despite her attempts, the Trojans survive theattack and continue their journey. Finally, even when Juno realizes that shecannot win, she still attempts to deny the Trojans of their fate. “I cannotkeep him from the Latin kingdoms:/ so be it, let Lavinia be his wife,/as fateshave fixed. Virgin,/ your dowry will be Latin blood” (Aeneid, 7:415-421). Junois openly admitting that the fates are going to give Latium to Aeneas.
Nevertheless, she is still persistent and plans to create a conflict between theTrojans and the Latins in which “Latin blood” must be shed. Juno has been avengeful character from the start, but in this passage she reaches the height ofher anger, and she challenges even the fates. Thus, Juno’s actions representthe climax of impious furor. For much of the story, Virgil presents Aeneas as apious being, one who does not indulge in his own rage. However, as the epicnears its end, even Aeneas succumbs to his own impious furor. In the battle withthe Latin’s, Aeneas does not heed the pleas of his enemy.
“O Trojanhero,/. . . spare me my life;with pity hear/my prayer.
. . Aeneas cut/him off. . .
/Thenwith his sword, he opened Liger’s breast” (Aeneid, 10:820-826). Liger, aLatin warrior, begs Aeneas not to kill him. He asks Aeneas to “pity” him and”spare” his life. As a noble individual, Aeneas should comply and set theman free. However, he chooses to indulge his rage, and thus he sinks his swordinto “Liger’s breast.
” This sudden change in Aeneas is seen even moreclearly in the final act of the book, when he faces a pitiful Turnus. For youhave won, and the Ausonians Have seen me, beaten, stretch my hands; Lavinia Isyours; then do not press your hatred further. Aeneas, Aflame with rage-his wrathwas terrible- Cried:”How can you who wear the spoils of my dear comrade nowescape me? Relentless He sinks his sword into the chest of Turnus. (Aeneid,12:1249-1269) Turnus, a great warrior and himself the leader of a kingdom, begsAeneas to spare him. Turnus knows he is “beaten,” and he asks that Aeneasturn aside his “hatred. ” Aeneas, however, is full of “rage” at the deathof his comrade, Pallus, and chooses to enact vengeance.
Thus, he kills Turnus inan act of cold blood. This is not the same Aeneas that Virgil presents in theearlier portions of the Aeneid. In addition, he is not showing piety towards theGods by killing Turnus and eliminating his enemy. Turnus admits defeat, and isbegging for forgiveness. However, rather than honoring the Gods and showingnobility in sparing Turnus, Aeneas indulges in his own fury. The change inAeneas presents a dilemma at the end of this epic.
Virgil intended the Aeneid tobe a justification of Rome’s greatness. He wanted to detail Rome’s historyand give it an illustrious founding. Initially, Aeneas is presented as a piousindividual, and because of this he is someone who is worthy of founding theRoman Empire. However, Aeneas’s final act indicates a man consumed by his ownimpious furor, and rather than providing a noble conclusion to the epic, itsuggests that Rome was founded by an enraged man.
For this reason, Virgil’sintended message and his apparent message are at odds with one another. Thus,the ending of the Aeneid is left unresolved.