Essay on Fitful and Changing: Femininity in Virgil's Aeneid

Essay on Fitful and Changing: Femininity in Virgil's Aeneid

Length: 803 words (2.3 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Better Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

As a child, I was fascinated by Greek mythology and history, and I made it my business in elementary school to read as much as possible about the subject, including the outstanding stories and the pantheon of gods presented. I thought of them as fantastic, supernatural tales with fitful gods and brave heroes, and I never stopped to consider that the mythologies could be representative of the cultural views and habits of the Greeks, specifically regarding gender roles. One such representaton is Virgil's epic Aeneid, which contains depictions of women in positions of power, and also characterizes these women as irrational, emotional to the point of hysteria, and consequently, unfit rulers.
Historically, much information about the role of women came out of Athens, where women were expected to center their life around oikos, or the 'home', where a woman would cook, manage servents, raise childen, and complete other household tasks (Frost 1997). The first woman to irrationally transgress this role in the Aeneid is Helen, who is the object of Aeneas' rage in Book II. Aeneas first characterizes Helen as “terrified of... her abandoned husband” and he feels a burning desire to “...Avenge my fallen town and punish Helen's whorishness”. He assigns blame for the fall of Troy to Helen, and the only reason Aeneas does not harm Helen is at the insistence of his mother, Venus, who reminds him that it is the “the harsh will of the gods.” (Damrosch and Pike, 2009)
Another woman who was also affected negtively by the will of the gods was the lovely Dido, queen and founder of Carthage. Upon the arrival of Aeneas and the beginning of their love affair, she is consumed by a love brought on by Cupid that was “...inward fire eating her away” and sh...

... middle of paper ...

...1997), or creatures that are “...Forever fitful and forever changing” (Darmrosch and Pike, 2009). Women are not without strength, as Virgil demonstrates in the Aeneid, as they are rulers of cities and goddesses, as well as objects of passion and the subject of war, in Helen's case. We can learn much about the nature of the balance and tensions between ancient peoples from their literature, and see how they have been characterized in the past, and how we can evaluate these characterizations from the perspective of a society that is progressively evolving in our definintions of gender and how we approach the stereotypes and idealizations of gender.

Works Cited
Damrosch, David and David Lawrence Pike. The Longman Anthology Of World Literature.
2nd ed. Pearson Education, Inc., 2009. Print.
Frost, Frank J. Greek Society. 5th ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997. Print.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Essay Gender Interactions in The Aeneid by Virgil

- Though easier to consider The Aeneid as a work which clearly defines the roles of man and woman, with men upholding traits of stability, rationality, and containment of oneself, with the women acting irrational and without jurisdiction, this is not quite the case. Gender is not quite the cookie cutter structure one is accustomed to, instead it acts as a much more complicated force within the interactions of the characters. The masculine and feminine become combined within individuals, blended to the point where perhaps sometimes understanding a character is far more complicated than knowing whether it is a 'he' or 'she'....   [tags: femininity, trojan, conflict]

Better Essays
566 words (1.6 pages)

The Aeneid, By Virgil Essay

- Throughout the Aeneid, Virgil uses a variety of literary tools to further the values and reforms Augustus Caesar initiated, particularly social and religious ones. Through descriptive passages about the epic’s protagonist, Aeneas, the author enables his audience to compare the Trojan leader to their own contemporary emperor, examining the virtues of both men and their relationship with the gods. The Aeneid is in itself a cultural and artistic monument, Virgil’s chef d’oeuvre that speaks to the social, cultural, and political changes that occurred in his time....   [tags: Roman Empire, Ancient Rome, Virgil, Julius Caesar]

Better Essays
1835 words (5.2 pages)

A Research Study On Virginity, Femininity, And Body Image Essay

- Understanding and examining what others have said about topics that have not normally been talked about has sparked an interesting conversation. I have been able to gain insight on issues from two different perspectives giving me a better understanding on how people are affected by the topics I have chosen as my focus.In this semesters Gender Studies class discussion about virginity, femininity, and body image stood out the most because it influences everyday life. Getting the opportunity to ask to close friends what they felt about these topics was fascinating....   [tags: Gender, Gender role, Femininity, Woman]

Better Essays
1622 words (4.6 pages)

The Virgil 's The Aeneid Essay

- Virgil’s The Aeneid is a series of books mainly about a man named Aeneas who has fled his home city of Troy. In book I, Aeneas and some fellow Trojans arrive at the city of Carthage with help from the gods. In Book IV, Aeneas and Dido, the queen of Carthage, fall in love. Aeneas must leave Dido to lead his comrades to Italy, and Dido is devastated that he chooses to leave her. Some readers of The Aeneid believe that Dido is a stereotypical damsel in distress dependent on a man. Others, however see Dido differently since she ruled over Carthage, and her love for Aeneas was caused by the gods....   [tags: Dido, Aeneid, Virgil, Love]

Better Essays
1402 words (4 pages)

Virgil and Dante Essay example

- Virgil and Dante In the note to Canto V regarding Francesca and Paulo, the Hollanders exclaim that “Sympathy for the damned, in the Inferno, is nearly always and nearly certainly the sign of a wavering moral disposition” (112). Indeed, many of the touching, emotional, or indignation rousing tales told by the souls in Hell can evoke pity, but in the telling of the tales, it is always possible to derive the reasons for the damned souls’ placement in Hell. However, there is a knee-jerk reaction to separate Virgil and, arguably, some of the other souls in limbo from this group of the damned, though, with careful perusal of the text, the thoughtful reader can discern the machinations behind the...   [tags: Virgil Dante Inferno Essays]

Better Essays
1904 words (5.4 pages)

Virgil's The Aeneid Essay

- Virgil's The Aeneid      In Webster’s dictionary, a leader is defined as a person that has commanding authority or influence over others. Such a leader can be found in The Aeneid, written by Virgil. The main character in the epic, Aeneas, shows the journey of a leader through struggles and trials. One can see the true definition of leadership through Aeneas’s strategy, bravery, and persistence.      During the Fall of Troy, Aeneas shows strategic leadership while pushing through the Greek lines....   [tags: Virgil Aeneid Essays]

Better Essays
476 words (1.4 pages)

Femininity Essay

- What is considered femininity in today’s such diverse and cultural society. There are various depictions throughout the world of what being feminine is. Contemporary femininity in the North American society is described by Shaw in the textbook, “...includes soft, passive, domestic, nurturing…dependent, sensitive, as well as delicate, intuitive…needy, fearful and so forth,” and these adjectives describe what femininity is considered to be (Shaw 116). This shows that women are expected by society to act in a certain way that is considered to be society’s version of femininity....   [tags: Woman, Twin, Conformity, High school, Femininity]

Better Essays
1010 words (2.9 pages)

Essay on Culture Analysis: Virgil

- Culture Analysis Paper 3: Virgil Profile: Within the selected reading, there are quite a few major and minor characters, those most notable being : Juno (Mack 473), Aeneas (Mack 475), Venus (Mack 475), Jupiter (Mack 478), Ascanius (Mack 479), Dido (Mack 477), Achatës (Mack 478), Ulysses (Mack 483), Minerva (Mack 490), Laocoön (Mack 490), Sinon (Mack 485), Hector (Mack 491), Pyrrhus (Mack 498), Priam (Mack 476), Anchises (Mack 504), Anna (Mack 508), Mercury (Mack 512), Deiphobë (Mack 529), Turnus (Mack 537) , Diomedes (Mack 477), Vulcan (Mack 536), Pallas (Mack 477), and Juturna (Mack 541) ....   [tags: Aeneid Virgil Analysis]

Free Essays
1904 words (5.4 pages)

Essay on Virgil’s Aeneid

- Virgil’s Aeneid In literature, the feats of a main character are defined by the sacrifices he/she makes with respect to those he/she holds dear. In this way, loved ones are woven into the story to give perspective; they multiply the joys as well as the sorrows, allowing the protagonist to experience a wide range of emotions. In Virgil’s Aeneid, an epic narrative about the legendary founding of Rome, Dido is present to strengthen the character of the protagonist, Aeneas. Many tragedies befall her throughout the work, especially in Book IV, which initially evoke sympathy in the reader....   [tags: Virgil Aeneid Essays]

Better Essays
1387 words (4 pages)

Femininity Essay

- The New Femininity Femininity is not a word that we are encouraged to use these days. A lot of people would argue that femininity is the thing that keeps women obedient to men. However, there is a hidden assumption behind this term. The assumption is that masculinity is superior to femininity; that femininity is not a beautiful and powerful thing in its own right. I believe that women have something men do not have. Women have special qualities that belong to them as women, and they do not intend to suppress those special qualities....   [tags: essays research papers]

Better Essays
587 words (1.7 pages)