The Portrayal of Women in the Aeneid Essay

The Portrayal of Women in the Aeneid Essay

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How much control do women have over their emotions in the Aeneid? In his poem, Virgil frequently shows women in situations where irrational thoughts lead to harmful choices. Specifically, Virgil presents women as being easily influenced by their emotions. Consequently, these characters make decisions that harm both themselves and those around them. Throughout Aeneas’s journey, divinities such as Juno and Venus are seen taking advantage of the emotions of different women, influencing these characters to act in ways that ignore important priorities. Not only does Virgil present women as completely vulnerable to their emotions, but he also shows the problems that arise when these women engage in decisions where they put their own feelings ahead of their people. Virgil explicitly shows women neglecting important responsibilities when he describes passages concerned with Dido’s affair and her death, the Trojan women burning their own ships, Queen Amata’s opposition to Latinus’s proposal and her tragic death.
Once Dido falls in love with Aeneas, Virgil uses a simile to describe the wound that Dido suffers from.
The flame keeps gnawing into her tender marrow hour by hour
and deep in her heart the silent wound lives on.
Dido burns with love—the tragic queen.
She wanders in frenzy through her own city streets
like a wounded doe caught off guard by a hunter
stalking the woods of Crete, who strikes her from afar
and leaves his winging steel in her flesh, and he’s unaware
but she veers in flight through Dicte’s woody glades,
fixed in her side the shaft that takes her life (IV 84-92).
In contrast to other passages where Virgil describes deer b...


... middle of paper ...


...rwhelmed by her emotions, Queen Amata cannot fully comprehend the situation she is in and acts based on her emotions. This is the true price of being caught up in passion.
Virgil’s masterpiece wrestles with way women were portrayed during the pre-Roman era.
While the Aeneid does outline the future of Rome, it also highlights the pains of war, and also exposes his audience to a culture of violence, which they may be unfamiliar with. The act of balancing one’s duty towards others and his or her personal desires was a conflict that many people struggled with. By presenting the struggle between balancing inner desires and and personal responsibilities, Virgil offers his audience a framework that enhances their overall understanding of the poem.



Works Cited
Virgil. The Aeneid. Trans. Robert Fagles. New York City and London: Penguin Books,
2006.

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