Gossip In The Aeneid

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Rumor’s Rumors

Rumors spread like wildfires and like wild fires they can cause great damage. The fire moving slowly throughout the foliage yet rapidly destroying everything in its path. This statement could also be used to describe the way Rumor, the monstrous and conniving creature in Virgil’s Aeneid(Book IV), spread malicious lies through the earth and the heavens. Virgil uses the actions of Rumor to display how destructive gossip can be. To begin, Rumor’s rumors were dispersed out of spite. After Rumor discovered that Aeneas and Dido were an item she made it her responsibility to bring fear to everyone of what this relationship could entail. Although Aeneas and Dido were in fact a couple, Rumor twisted this truth into something dangerous and faulty. She knew the results of her actions could be
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“From heaven had shaken him awake, he now burned only to be gone, to leave that land of the sweet life behind.” Aeneas attempted to leave his lover without a word in the hopes of saving her feelings, however, it resulted in a heated argument between the two where Dido said, “Do you abandon me, a dying woman, guest that you are- the only name now left from that of husband? Why do I live on?” This exclamation led her to her suicide, leaving her land queenless; this was Rumor’s ultimate goal, mass destruction.

Detrimental gossip was not a new concept brought to life in Virgil’s Aeneid; gossip has been around since the dawn of time and still exists in modern day. Gossip, especially false, can significantly alter the lives of those gossiped about, as shown in the Aeneid and in a Washington Post article written by Cass Sunstein, “Rumors are nearly as old as human history, but with the rise of the Internet, they have become ubiquitous… False rumors are especially troublesome;

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