Aeneas’s Free Will Despite His Fate in The Aeneid

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When discussing the fate of Aeneas, a thought provoking question is posed that is commonly debated. If Aeneas is commanded by fate, does he have free will? It is important to approach this question with a solid understand of fate. There are two common sides to the debate of whether Aeneas had free will or not. One view believes Aeneas had no choice but to follow his destiny because he was commanded by fate, and prophesied to found the race that will one day build Rome. The other side states Aeneas did indeed have free will, and even though his fate was set, room is available within his fate for events to change. One can argue Aeneas makes some of his own choices, but no particular detail of his life is untouched. Destiny determines that the Trojans will found a city in Italy, but it does not stipulate how that will happen. This is where room is left for free will. After much research and considering the views of many commentators and the proof they showed, the answer can simply be found by going back to the text of The Aeneid. Camps states both sides of the free will debate in more detail. One side believes Aeneas was presented as being ordered, directed, and reminded from above through prophets and dreams. Because of this he is sometimes felt by the readers to be directed by powers outside himself, and with no character of his own. The other side states that while Aeneas is ordered by a powerful authority, he is not forced, and it is exactly the situation that his will is free and his choices his own that differentiates his circumstances from that of other characters in the story whose wills have stopped to be their own because outside forces have taken them over. Adding a little to these two sides Duckworth considers Vergil’s ... ... middle of paper ... ... 1969. Print. Duckworth, George E. "Fate and Free Will in Virgil's ‘Aeneid.’” The Classical Journal 51.8 (1956): 357-64. JSTOR. Web. 7 Mar. 2014. "Fate." The Oxford Classical Dictionary. Ed. Simon Hornblower and Antony Spawforth. 3rd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003. Print. Matthaei, Louise E. “The Fates, the Gods, and the Freedom of Man's Will in the Aeneid.” The Classical Quarterly 11.1 (1917): 11-26. JSTOR. Web. 6 Mar. 2014. Tracy, H. L. "'Fata Deum' and the Action of the 'Aeneid'" Greece & Rome 11.2 (1964): 188-95. JSTOR. Web. 19 Apr. 2014. Virgil. The Aeneid. Trans. Robert Fagles. New York: Penguin, 2008. Print. Williams, Gordon Willis. Technique and Ideas in the Aeneid. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1983. Print. Wilson, C. H. "Jupiter and the Fates in the Aeneid." The Classical Quarterly 29.2 (1979): 361-71. JSTOR. Web. 19 Apr. 2014.
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