Analysis Pages

Themes in Aeneid

Themes Examples in Aeneid:

Book I

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"Of brave Orontes, and th' uncertain state Of Gyas, Lycus, and of Amycus..."   (Book I)

Orontes, Gyas, Lycus, and Amycus are all Trojan comrades of Aeneas whose fate is unclear at this point. One of the important themes of the Aeneid is how the loss of one's friends and former life and the uncertainty of destiny contribute to the human experience.

"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.

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