I sing of warfare and a man at war.
From the sea-coast of Troy in early days
He came to Italy by destiny,
To our Lavinian western shore,
A fugitive, this captain, buffeted
. . .
Till he could found a city and bring home
His gods to Laetium, land of the Latin race,
The Alban lords, and the high walls of Rome.
Tell me the causes now, O Muse, how galled
. . .
From her old wound, the queen of gods compelled him—
. . .
To undergo so many perilous days
And enter on so many trials. Can anger
Black as this prey on the minds of heaven?
(I. 1– 19)
With these opening lines of The
Even though we do not learn Aeneas’s name in these lines, we learn much about him. The fact that Aeneas’s name is withheld for so long—until line
In this opening passage, Virgil mentions the divine obstacle that will plague Aeneas throughout his quest: the “sleepless rage” of the “queen of gods,” Juno. Aeneas will suffer in the face of storms at sea and, later, a war on land, and Virgil attributes both these impediments to Juno’s cruelty. In line
Virgil’s question, “Can anger / Black as this prey on the minds of heaven?” brings up the ancients’ relationship to the gods. Within their polytheistic religious system, the Greeks and Romans reckoned the will of the gods to be the cause of all events on Earth. Instead of attributing forces of good and evil to the gods, as later religions did, the Greeks and Romans believed the gods to be motivated by emotions recognizable to humans—jealousy, vanity, pride, generosity, and loyalty, for example. The primary conflict in the