Essay on Juggling Gods and Fate

Essay on Juggling Gods and Fate

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It is consistently unclear in old world literature, From Homeric epics to Virgil's work the Aeneid, what the relation of fate is to the Pantheon of gods. There seems to be an ongoing debate within the text discussing whether `Fate' is the supreme ruling force in the universe and the controlling element of the lives of men or whether fate is the will of the king of gods, Jupiter. Reasons for this confusion are a bit unclear and could range to anything from a threat by an outside influence holding power over the author, such as Virgil's patron Octavian, a general, public confusion on the matter during the time when the Aeneid was written, or simply the author`s lack of understanding the topic. The befuddlement of the Romans on this topic becomes apparent with a close reading of the Aeneid and observation of the contradictions contained within it.

Quite pertinent to the discussion of fate's place in Virgil's writing is discovering the two different views presented regarding where Jove resides in the matter. There are two possibilities presented in the text. In one case Jupiter is the supreme ruler of the cosmos and `fate' is that which he wills. This could mean a long detailed plan involving the actions of men and the founding and destruction of civilizations, or merely a whimsical commotion with which he amuses himself. In the conversation between Juno and Venus:

"Would one city

Satisfy Jupiter's will for Tyrians

And Trojan exiles? Does he approve

A union and mingling of these races?"#

It seems fairly explicit in this instance that the will of Jove takes precedence over the wills of all others. But does this constitute fate? At this point in the story the two goddesses, seem to refer to J...


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...questions such as fate were and are still decidedly unknowable without a god specifically revealing to them the truth. This is why there is the element of confusion in the texts and a currently ongoing discussion of the matter of fate's role in daily life.

In summation, the reason why fate is such a hot topic is as follows, There is evidence presented on both sides in such quantity that neither opinion can simply negate the other. The authors of the works which feature the confusion, in this case Virgil specifically, are themselves uncertain of the true relationship between gods and fate and thus in keeping with a notion of personal piety feel it is necessary to include both ideas in their works which results in the high level of both proofs and ambiguity. The argument is then a simple matter of personal choice and the hope that yours is the right, pious one.

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