The Aeneid

by: Virgil

Book VII

Even though Juno openly admits for the first time that she cannot win, she persists in her defiance of the fates. She cannot prevent the Trojans from founding a new city, yet she remains fixed in her determination to inflict suffering on them. She says:

It will not be permitted me—so be it—
To keep the man from rule in Italy;
By changeless fate Lavinia waits, his bride.
And yet to drag it out, to pile delay
Upon delay in these great matters—that
I can do: to destroy both countries’ people,
That I can do.         (VII.427–433)

At this point in the narrative, Virgil has imparted Juno with base emotions that, in their extremity, seem beyond human capacity. Her obsession with revenge drives her to hurt Aeneas, though she acknowledges the futility of the violence she incites with phrases such as “[i]t will not be permitted me” and “changeless fate.” For Juno, thwarting the Trojans is no longer a matter of control but rather of pride, as her resolute assertion, “That I can do,” makes clear. Virgil’s Juno, a fearsome, self-important, and vengeful character from the start, reaches the height of her anger in this passage and appears pathetic in her willful obstruction of fated events.