Women In Society Essay

895 words - 4 pages

Virgil’s Aeneid was to Rome what the Illiad and Odyssey were to Greece, a long narrative that triumphantly related heroic events in an elevated style. While Virgil’s main reason for writing The Aeneid was to foreshadow the coming of Augustus and legitimize his rule over Rome, an underlying theme in this epic is a presence of power among women. Few of Virgil’s women characters fit the common weak and passive stereotype; instead, many are quick to react, extremely emotional and very opinionated. While in a position of power, three of Virgil’s main female characters, Dido, Venus and Juno, allow their emotions to dictate many of their decisions and reactions on matters, thus projecting a common stereotype of how women are viewed in society.
Among the three women, Dido’s story may add the most fuel to the stereotypically, ‘emotional women do drastic things’ fire. Though the fact is only known in book IV, Aeneas and Dido engaged in a great love affair, somewhat to people’s dismay as many citizens felt the two had succumbed to lust and begun neglecting their duties as rulers. Jupiter has made sure Aeneas knows his true destiny and that he must set sail for Italy immediately. Aeneas’ attempt to sail away in secret is thwarted and Dido learns of his plans and confronts him, “Yet if the virtuous gods have power, I hope that you will drain the cup of suffering among the reefs, and call out Dido’s name again and again. Absent, I’ll follow you with dark fires, and when icy death has divided my soul and body, my ghost will be present everywhere. Cruel one, you’ll be punished. I’ll hear of it: that news will reach me in the depths of Hades” (BkIV:382-387). Emotional floodgates give way and Dido decides she cannot live without Aeneas by her side and instructs Anna to build a fire in the courtyard. Dido makes it appear as if she is going to burn Aeneas’ belongings in order to rid her of him, so she can move on, but instead, she is secretly conspiring to end her own life. A sleepless night leads Dido to witness Aeneas’ fleet leaving earlier than planned and that proves too much for her to bear. In a very Shakespearean conclusion of events, Dido retrieves one of Aeneas’ swords and falls upon it to end her life. This sequence of events only continues to prove how emotions can and do drive a woman’s decision-making capacity to the brink and sometimes, as in this case, even death.
Death was one thing Aeneas had to avoid when dealing with queen of the gods, Juno. Juno’s...

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