Aeneas and His Ghosts

Aeneas and His Ghosts

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Aeneas and His Ghosts

The Aeneid Written by Virgil Translation by Fitzgerald

I.Pious Aeneas (his background and key characteristics)
•Mother is Venus (the Greek Aphrodite) Page 54, Book II, Lines 775-777

“Stepping before me, radiant through the night,My loving mother came: immortal, tall,
And lovely as the lords of heaven know her.”

•“Favored by Jupiter” Page 164, Book VI, Lines 190-193“… A few

Whom a benign Jupiter has loved or whom Fiery heroism has borne to heaven,
Sons of gods, could do it…”
oThe gods respect his fate. Page 11, Book I, Lines 319-322

“Surely from these the Romans are to come In the course of the years, renewing Teucer’s line, To rule the sea and all the lands about it,According to your promise…”

He will found the land where Rome will later stand.
Page 12-14, Book I, Lines 352-354, 373-375
“No, he, your son – now let me speak of him,
In view of your consuming care, at length,
Unfolding secret fated things to come-”

“And call by his own name his people Romans.
For these I set no limits, world or time,
But make the gift of empire without end.”

He is fated to go to the Underworld.
Page 164, Book VI, Lines 214-217
“Pull away the bough. It will come willingly,
Easily, if you are called by fate.
If not, with all your strength you cannot conquer it,
Cannot lop it off with a sword’s edge.”
•Receptive and Open.

oAeneas constantly looks for signs from the gods as to what his actions should be and listens/ follows through when he is nudged in the right direction.
Page 110, Book IV, Lines 545-551 “Duty-bound,
Aeneas, though he struggled with desire
To calm and comfort her in all her pain,
To speak to her and turn her mind from grief,
And though he sighed his heart out, shaken still
With love of her, yet took the course heaven gave him
And went back to the fleet…”

oIn all his interactions with his crew, wife, father, Dido, other leaders, the gods, etc., Aeneas listens instead of tooting his own horn (Odysseus), knowing there is a lot to be gained from others.
•Aeneas is dutiful.

oBrings the household gods.
Page 65, Book III, Lines 16-18
“…I took to the open sea,
Borne outward into exile with my people,
My son, my hearth gods, and the greater gods”

oCarries Anchises from Troy on his back and holds his opinion in high regard.
Page 55, Book II, Lines 829-830
“…I looked for him at once,
My first wish being to help him to the mountains;”
Page 58, Book II, Lines 921-924

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“Then come, dear father. Arms around my neck:
I’ll take you on my shoulders, no great weight.
Whatever happens, both will face one danger,
Find one safety…”

oGoes back for Creusa.
Page 59 (and 60), Book II, Lines 975-979
“I turned back alone
Into the city, cinching my bright harness.
Nothing for it but to run the risks
Again, go back again, comb all of Troy,
And put my life in danger as before:”

oHis sheer goodness.

oPrayers- he prays all the time and makes regular sacrifices.
Page 66, Book III, Lines 28-30
“As I made offering to Dione’s daughter,
My divine mother, and to other gods
Who give protection to a work begun,”

Page 128, Book V, Starting line 101 – Aeneas pours libations for his father and sees a snake. Not sure whether the snake is his father’s spirit or a local deity, he makes more sacrifices.

Conclusion: The combination of Aeneas’ heritage, the great influence of fate, his piety, dutifulness, and sheer goodness all make it possible for Aeneas to receive visions and visits from ghosts.

II. The Ghosts
•In the Aeneid, when ghosts appear, they look as they did when they died.
oCreusa (p. 60)

“Then to my vision her sad wriath appeared—
Creusa’s ghost, larger than life, before me”

Aeneas cannot take Creusa; it was not “ordained,” nor did Jupiter give him “leave.” Creusa tells him he will find Hesperia, where there will be “glad peace” and he will remarry. In the meantime, she asks him to cherish their son.
oAnchises (p. 151)

“Out of the dark, from heaven, his father’s image
Seemed to float suddenly and speak”

Anchises has come “by Jove’s command” to tell him to listen to Naute’s counsel. He also tells him to go to Italy where he will fight a war. But first, he must visit the Sibyl and the “underworld/ The halls of Dis.”
oHector (p. 43)

“In sleep, in dream, Hector appeared to me,
Gaunt with sorrow, Streaming tears, all torn—
As by the violent car on his death day—
And black with bloody dust,
His puffed-out feet cut by the rawhide thongs”
“His beard all filth, his hair matted with blood,
Showing the wounds, the many wounds, received
Outside his father’s city walls…”

Hector tells Aeneas to “give up and go” from the fallen Troy, adding that he is now in charge of Troy’s “holy things, and gods/ of hearth and household.” He then tells Aeneas to “go find for them the great walls that one day/ you’ll dedicate, when you have roamed the sea.”
oPolydorus (p. 66)

I had the sight of a gruesome prodigy
Beyond description: when the first stalk came torn
Out of the earth, and the root network burst,
Dark blood dripped down to soak and foul the soil.”
“…A groan came from the mound,
A sobbing muffled in the depth of the earth,
And words were carried upward”

Polydorus identifies himself as a Trojan and lets Aeneas know how he dies. Most importantly, he warns Aeneas from this place, saying, “put the savage land behind you.”
•The importance of who appears.

oThey all had some influence on him in life. He was close to them.

Creusa – his wife, Anchises – his father, Hector – Prince of Troy and leader in battle, Polydorus – fellow soldier.

oTheir appearance means their fates are tied to Aeneas – their death is linked to his life. The importance of fate goes beyond death and ones life has importance in death.

Creusa dies, allowing him to remarry to begin a glorified race. Anchises dies, which gives him a fresh start as head of the household.

Their deaths test Aeneas and show the great sorrow he has had to overcome. Shows his strength.

•Beyond these four ghosts and others that tie to Aeneas, it is important to note that death is not the ultimate end. The dead play a significant role in carrying out fate. It is also important to remember that ultimately, everything is linked.

oExample: Sychaeus appears to Dido and reveals the true nature of his death and the danger she is in. This puts Dido in Carthage and in the path of Aeneas.
Sychaeus’ appearance - Page 16, Book I, Line 482-288
“But the true form of her unburied husband
Came in a dream: lifting his pallid face
Before her strangely, he made visible
The cruel altars and his body pierced,
Uncovering all the dark crime of the house.

He urged her then to make haste and take flight,
Leaving her fatherland…”

The overall importance – page 14, Book I, Lines 399-403
“That said, [Jupiter] sent the son of Maia down
From his high place to make the land of Carthage,
The new-built town, receptive to the Trojans,
Not as to allow Queen Dido, all unknowing
As to the fated future, to exclude them.”

Conclusion: While the appearances of some ghosts reinforce anti-war sentiment, Virgil primarily uses the dead to remind us of the importance of fate and the role that each person has in it. This emphasis serves to unify the characters in plot, but also to unite past, present and future, and to emphasize the link that future Romans have to a heroic Aeneas, the predecessor of the “great race.”

III. Where do the ghosts go after Book VI’s Underworld? Is their role complete?
•Once Aeneas is in Latium he no longer needs ghosts to tell him to go there.
•Listens to elders and soldiers who help to keep him on the right path and give encouragement. Note again his receptivity to those around him.
Page 248, Book VIII, Lines 692-695

“No, you are he who age and foreign birth
The fates approve, and whom the gods desire.
Enter on your great duty now, great heart,
Commander of Trojans and Italians both!”

•Gods become more directly active

oJuno – Page 206, Book VII, Lines 398-441 – Juno’s speech of hate for Aeneas and Trojans before she arouses the Furies.

oTiberinus - Page 230, Book VIII, Lines 42-90 – Tiberinus speaks to a sleeping Aeneas and tells him not to fear threats of war. He also goes on to say he will see a sign to confirm what he has heard in his sleep – a foretelling of the great city that will lay on its banks.

oVenus & Vulcan – Page 242, Book VIII, Starting Line 491 – Venus was concerned for Aeneas and shares her concerns with her husband Vulcan, citing incidents where he made armor for others. Vulcan tells her to have no fear. He intervenes on Aeneas’ behalf by forging a wonderful set of armor.

•With the presence of soothsayers, there is a shift from the dead and the past to the living and the present and future.

IV. The Aeneid -- Once you start, you can’t stop – find Aeneas in…
•Edith Hamilton’s Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes. (Mostly referenced from Virgil’s story)

•Ovid’s The Metamorphoses (Ovid’s take on Aeneas).

•Harris and Platzner’s Classical Mythology: Images and Insights 3rd Ed.

•Google Images of Aeneas – there is a WIDE selection to choose from.
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