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Informal discussions of The Aeneid

In Book 4 of the Aeneid, Virgil focuses on the portrayal of Queen Dido’s Passion for Aeneis. This work gives readers insights into nature of human passion and how it can ruin or make a person. Reading this passage, anyone will be convinced of the power of passionate love over human beings, even the ones wit personalities as strong as that of Dido. Dido stands out as a character who has great courage and strength of character, yet cannot overcome her own passion for the handsome man. She seems to treat her desire to be a shameful bondage, not a gift of nature or gods.

This is exactly what makes her so mad, forcing her to walk around the city, seeking liberation from her love. Dido acknowledges herself that she is tired of her marriage-bed. Perhaps she views the attraction Aeneus has sparked in her as a symbol of her captivity, and, unwilling to be shackled to any man by bonds of love and passion, tries to resist her passion. This can be the true motive although Dido is quick to cover it up with another: she is pretending that she is eager to preserve her love for her late husband who has long been in grave.

However, it is difficult to believe that a strong and blooming woman is indeed so overwhelmed by her sense of duty that she does not want to share love with a new appealing man. Dido’s love is not only a product of physical desire; instead, it has been ignited by Aeneus’s account of his misfortunes and the sufferings he experienced in the wars he has been through. This seems to be a perfect portrayal of human love in which the physical and the spiritual is interwoven into one whole: Dido loses head over Aeneus because she sympathised with his difficult destiny and finds him impressive as a personality.

Yet her passion is a fully-fledged feeling of a woman for a man. Another reason for her resistance might be an inner feeling that her passion is unwelcome for gods. Covering up her misdeed as marriage, she displeased gods and in a sense tried to thwart the destiny prepared by gods for Aeneus, which precipitated Dido’s terrible end. The marriage proves to be only a temporary stop in Aeneus’s heroic wanderings, a brief interlude that gives the hero a brief respite before more heroic deeds to come. Such interludes are frequent in heroic tales.

They show very well the classical roles of men and women in those times: a woman was to sit and wait before the courageous man takes a stand and moves on, to his yet unknown achievements. A woman’s deeds are primarily those related to men, and their character is reflected in how they handle men and express their feelings for them. Dido is shown as a rebellious, sullen and passionate character. For Aeneus, she is hardly a blessing, and he is definitely a ruinous force for her. When Dido meets unwelcome circumstances, she does not succumb, but seeks to break free and overcome them.

She first strives to overcome her passion for Aeneus; then strives to take complete hold of him and chain him to her through bonds of marriage; when she realizes the futility of her attempts to chain the renowned hero, she prepares a terrible death for herself, retaliating for her misfortune. To a spirit like this, life is a painful struggle, and Juno’s decision to assist Dido in leaving earthly life is the only real blessing gods could cast upon this passionate heroine. Like in most ancient works, in Aeneid, gods are active participants on a par with men.

They, too, are often the decision-makers who can turn the destiny of any man in this way or another. Thus, the appearance of Mercury seals Aeneus’ fate, alerting him to the need to leave Dido and move on, and Juno’s intervention relieves Dido of her suffering. Humans are not subordinated to gods and have their own free will, but contradicting gods seems reckless as it is too risky. Even Aeneus, undoubtedly a powerful personality, has to do as god tells him and abandon Dido. Virgil. “Aeneid: Book 4, The Passion of the Queen. ” In: Damrosh, David et al. , eds. Longman Anthology World Literature. Vol. 1. Longman, 2004. 1202-1224.

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