On Aeneas

Throughout the entire Aeneid, Aeneas turned away from his responsibilities and from the women he used, whether wife or not. He left Creusa in Troy. He left her behind, to die, abandoning his wife and fleeing like a coward.

He left Dido in Carthage. He loved her. He made a bond by laying with her, but when the gods told him to run like a coward, he ran. He sinned against her in the cave, and he sinned against her when he fled to the ships. Although it was not his hand that guided the dagger, he can be blamed for leaving his woman unprotected and despairing.

He left these women for a princess and a kingdom, because the gods told him too.

Turnus was a passionate man. He kept his promises. He had a responsibility to Lavinia, and he kept it, even against her father, the gods, and all the host of Troy. Turnus was far more of a man than Aeneas was. He, at least, was a man.

Aeneas was a nation.

At its heart, the Aeneid is the story of a nation, not a man. A story of the triumph of the nation over the man, the woman, the individual, the imago Dei. The nation, Rome, the great empire, the world, swallows up all in its path. Creusa? Unimportant. She holds no symbolism or value. She is only a woman. Dido? She only exists to be rejected. Aeneas must choose Rome over Carthage, over Dido. She is only a woman. Turnus? A boor. A minor obstacle. Love and passion must crumble before the coming empire. He is only a man. Aeneas must grow less a man that the nation, Rome, may increase. And so he takes a pallid lifeless princess to wife, and he chooses to rescue his father, his patriarch, rather than the woman he made vows to. What is the lesson of the Aeneid? Women are ornaments, nothing more, to be cast aside in times of danger or crisis. Men are tools, nothing more, to be cast aside and ignored when their purpose is served. Aeneas protected his men, yes; he needed them to found the nation. A good worker takes care of his tools. Individuality is useless at best and a sin at worst. The will of the gods is all, and the founding of Rome is paramount. Beauty, honor, passion, desire, humanity are all sacrificed on the altar of the glory that is Rome.

It should not surprise us that Christians were so persecuted. Love? Love is not Roman. It is dangerous and strange. Love requires us to see people as people, as individuals, as creatures. It is far easier and more expedient to see people as tools, as a mass, the populace, the rabble. Those to be used.

A community is made up of men and women. Rome was made up of leaders, tools, and ornaments. And that is why I could never be a Roman. That is why I passionately hate Aeneas. We stand for diametrically opposed ideas, and there is no hope for reconciliation.

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Categories: Musings | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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3 thoughts on “On Aeneas

  1. crazysarah

    Wow. That’s intense. Excellent post!

  2. mirageshadowlance

    Wow! You just summed up what I’ve been trying to figure out what my problem was with him as a character. I said he was more of a nation than a man, but when it came to his wife and =Dido. I saw it more as a lack of honor than anything else. With Dido, yes the love was induced by the gods, but were he truly honorable he would have behaved professionally rather than even put either of them in that position. Thank you for showing me that this goes deeper than a lack of honor, which is something Romans would understand, and being able to explain what is really going on.
    I have just one question? What are your thoughts on Odysseus, Achilles, and Hector?

  3. Pingback: Glimpses and sightings of an epic | Call of the Siren

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