The Aeneid

by: Virgil

War

Quotes War
“You help a burning city. Let us die, And plunge into the middle of the fight. The only safety of the vanquished is To hope for none.” Thus were the warriors’ hearts Kindled with added rage.

Aeneas, though forewarned by Hector’s ghost that Greeks have taken Troy, decides he can’t abandon his home and plunges with his soldiers into the fight. Aeneas’s actions embody the complex nature of war, which brings instances of deceit and nobility. The Greek soldiers were able to overrun the city only through trickery, but Aeneas responds with honor. This theme will echo in the ensuing battle, when Aeneas and his men dress in Greek armor, tricking their foe but also drawing attack from their own countrymen. One lesson to take from The Aeneidis that war is filled with moral ambiguities.

“I give, besides, My Pallas, hope and solace of my age. Under your master hand my boy shall learn To endure the hard and heavy tasks of war; And while still young, know you, and see your deeds.”

King Evander sends his son Pallas to accompany Aeneas to war. This passage reveals the truth that in ancient times, war was a part of life. Pallas, as heir to the kingdom, must know how to fight, and since Evander is too old, he thinks that Aeneas, known for his heroism in Troy, would make an ideal mentor. Implied in Evander’s words is that Pallas must learn how to fight, how to kill, and even how to leave his comrades behind. War, violence, and fighting was an inescapable part of life in the ancient Mediterranean world.

Alike The victors and the vanquished slew and fell. Nor these, not those know what it is to flee. The gods above with pitying eyes behold The fruitless rage of both, and grieve to see Such woes for mortal men.

Book X is consumed by battle between the Trojans and the Latians, with righteous men on each side mercilessly slaughtering the enemy, their hands guided by anger and vengeance. This passage reflects the essence of war itself. Both sides are fighting their hardest. Both sides are fighting bravely. Both sides will compete to the death, if necessary. In a war like this, led on by the whims of the gods, no good ending truly exists. The Trojans will emerge victorious, as fate decrees, but the Latians, who were persuaded into war by Juno’s intervention, are nonetheless heroic.