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Quotes in Aeneid

Quotes Examples in Aeneid:

Book I

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"O Muse! the causes and the crimes relate; What goddess was provok'd, and whence her hate; For what offense the Queen of Heav'n began To persecute so brave, so just a man;..."   (Book I)

After summarizing Aeneas's story, Virgil invokes a muse, the spirit of inspiration, to tell him the reasons behind Juno's wrath against such a nobel hero. Invoking the muse was a common epic trope. It was believed that poets were merely conduits for stories that came from divine sources. Rhetorically, invoking a muse places the story outside of the poet and elevates it to the status of divine truth.

"Thus while he dealt it round, the pious chief With cheerful words allay'd the common grief:..."   (Book I)

Aeneas and his men have endured insurmountable hardships caused by Juno's wrath. Aeneas feels deeply unsettled and worried that they will not complete their mission, however, he hides this fear in order to inspire strength and courage in his people. Aeneas is a great leader because he puts the needs of his people before his own.

"Arms, and the man I sing, who, forc'd by fate, And haughty Juno's unrelenting hate, Expell'd and exil'd, left the Trojan shore. Long labors, both by sea and land, he bore, And in the doubtful war, before he won The Latian realm, and built the destin'd town; His banish'd gods restor'd to rites divine, And settled sure succession in his line, From whence the race of Alban fathers come, And the long glories of majestic Rome...."   (Book I)

In the first stanza, Virgil sets up and summarizes the entire course of the epic. Because this pity survey of Aeneas's story is intended to both captivate the audience and indicate which story they are about to witness, the story appears to be already widely known. Virgil creates this structure to elevate his story to the status of an epic in which he is recounting a story from history using the help of a Muse.

"These words he spoke, but spoke not from his heart; His outward smiles conceal'd his inward smart..."   (Book I)

A poignant moment that lends realism to the mythic tale. Aeneas, as the leader, has to appear confidant and upbeat to encourage his followers, but he has seen so many of friends die in the Trojan War and during the escape to Italy (Latium) that he is truly in despair. Virgil is humanizing this mythic hero by making him subject to emotional trauma.

"Fair queen, oppose not what the gods command; Forc'd by my fate, I leave your happy land." ..."   (Book IV)

Aeneas's reasoning for leaving Carthage touches on one of the main themes of this epic: the importance of duty above personal desires. Dido tries to keep Aeneas in Carthage by invoking their personal connection and his duty to her. However, Aeneas uses this speech to tell her that they both have duties to the gods that are larger than theirselves. Thus, Aeneas leaves to fulfill his duty, sacrificing both personal desire and Dido. This theme teaches the audience that the death of one dream will allow a greater vision to grow.

"The gods, by signs, have manifestly shown, No prince Italian born should heir my throne: Oft have our augurs, in prediction skill'd, And oft our priests, foreign son reveal'd. Yet, won by worth that cannot be withstood, Brib'd by my kindness to my kindred blood, Urg'd by my wife, who would not be denied, I promis'd my Lavinia for your bride: Her from her plighted lord by force I took; All ties of treaties, and of honor, broke:..."   (Book XII)

Though Latinus originally promised Lavinia, his only daughter and heir, to Turnus, he breaks his promise in order to fulfill the will of the gods. The gods have commanded that Lavinia marry the foreigner rather than an Italian in order to create a new race of peoples. This choice emphasizes one of the epic's main themes, sacrificing personal desire for duty. Latinus knows that his duty is to the gods and their will rather than to the promises he has made as a mortal man. He must put his duty and the future of Italy in front of both his desires and those he holds dear.

"The crown to King Latinus I resign: His be the sov'reign sway. Nor will I share His pow'r in peace, or his command in war. For me, my friends another town shall frame, And bless the rising tow'rs with fair Lavinia's name." ..."   (Book XII)

Aeneas makes this pact with King Latinus so that his people might live in peace and equality with the Latins. Unlike many other epic heroes, Aeneas does not want to conquer lands to demonstrate his power or glory, but rather wants to do what is best for his people. He shows compassion and honor in this treaty, along with a commitment to his duty. Aeneas set an example of what a hero and a leader should be, one after which the Romans modeled their civic duty and moral compass as the empire grew.

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