The Portrayal of Women in the Aeneid

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How much control do women have over their emotions in the Aeneid? In his poem, Virgil frequently shows women in situations where irrational thoughts lead to harmful choices. Specifically, Virgil presents women as being easily influenced by their emotions. Consequently, these characters make decisions that harm both themselves and those around them. Throughout Aeneas’s journey, divinities such as Juno and Venus are seen taking advantage of the emotions of different women, influencing these characters to act in ways that ignore important priorities. Not only does Virgil present women as completely vulnerable to their emotions, but he also shows the problems that arise when these women engage in decisions where they put their own feelings …show more content…
On the other hand, Virgil notes that Dido’s love for Aeneas has caused her to suffer. Dido’s emotions have caused her to act like a wounded animal, not thinking about the consequences of her own actions. By being reduced to an animal, Dido has lost all rational thought. Consequently, Dido’s lack of rational thought causes her to begin to ignore other duties she has to fulfill. After she falls in love with Aeneas, Dido disregards the vow that she made to her suitors. While Aeneas and Dido go hunting, Juno sends down a storm that forces the two into a cave. In the cave, Dido makes love to Aeneas and calls the affair a marriage. Shortly after this incident, news spreads beyond her kingdom that the Carthaginian leader has abandoned her obligations as a ruler. When the news reaches Iarbas, one of Dido’s suitors, the African king expresses his anger (IV 264-274). Dido’s love for Aeneas has caused her to ignore basic agreements that she has established. Not only did Dido lie to Iarbas, but she has also forgotten to keep the promise that she made to herself to not marry another man (IV 19-35). Dido has abandoned her own reputation. Instead of taking responsibility for the choices she has made, Dido continues her pursuit of the Trojan hero. Additionally, Dido neglects other responsibilities when Aeneas is constructing homes in Carthage. Virgil composes, “Soon / as his winged feet touched down on the first huts in sight / he
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