Final thoughts on “The Aeneid” by Virgil

Page 189 Aeneas searching for the golden bough that Sibyl sent him for. The image this line brings to my mind is so clear. This is why I love this book! “As mistletoe in the dead of winter’s icy forests leafs with life on a tree that never gave it birth, embracing the smooth trunk with its pale yellow bloom, so glowed the golden foliage against the ilex evergreen, so rustled the sheer gold leaf in the light breeze.”

Written just before the birth of Christ, The Aeneid is a tale of the origins of Rome. Is it true? Or all a myth? Was Rome founded by a group of Trojans that survived the war?

Page 223 “I’ll plead for the help I need, wherever it may be – if I cannot sway the heavens, I’ll wake the powers of hell!” Seems a bit defeating to me.

Page 228 The gods make the people fight. There’s a scene here where both human sides are at the beginnings of a truce when one of the gods flings a spear and kills a man that makes both sides take up arms again and continue the battle. Why would the god do that? They have some ultimate plan that needs to be carried out by humans? Or, more likely, the author of the story is making an excuse for something that happened between the humans. Some guy took it upon himself to hurl a spear because he was crazy or something. So, of course, what made him crazy was the gods and they were using him to further some plan of theirs.

Page 243 Again, the words, they make my heart ache. “Watching it all, the Trojan hero heaved in a churning sea of anguish, his thoughts racing, here, there, probing his options, shifting to this plan, that – as quick as flickering light thrown off by water in bronze bowls reflects the sun or radiant moon, now flittering near and far, now rising to strike a ceiling’s gilded framework.”

Page 255 “With those words on his lips, he gave his wife the embraces both desired, then sinking limp on her breast he courted peaceful sleep that stole throughout his body.”

Page 272 “Nisus asks, ‘do the gods light this fire in our hearts or does each man’s mad desire become his god?” How’s that for a deep question that we still ask ourselves thousands of years later?

Page 309 “Each man has his day, and the time of life is brief for all, and never comes again. But to lengthen out one’s fame with action, that’s the work of courage.” And action is war and death is not the only way. This story is about the founding of a nation but many of these lines about humanity can be applied to peaceful things. We can sit at home and be safe, working our job and paying our bills, raising our children and taking no chances, but are we really living?

Page 318 “Grim repose and an iron sleep press down his eyes and seal their light in a night that never ends.” He’s dead.

The story isn’t told as Aeneas is the good guy and everyone he encounters that keep him from finding his ancestral home are bad guys. They are all told as pawns in a huge game of the gods. Sorry I had to kill your family to get you to do what I wanted you to! No worries! I totally understand that it’s the will of the gods that you get my land and kill my sons. See you at the feast tomorrow my new master!

Page 381 In the middle of a battle, one man loses his sword and is about to die but a god brings it back to him, magically, and he wins the battle. I can’t imagine what this would look like in real life. What actually happened in this battle that made them describe it as the gods intervened?

And they all live happily ever after as Romans. I love it! I’d like to read this again and pay closer attention to the character of Aeneas. Does he change as he finds his new land? Does he become a better leader of men? I get a bit swept up in individual scenes and forget the bigger picture when I read. What I’d really like to have a group of people to actually talk about this book with. I can read other people’s thoughts on the book but then it’s like reading another book to me. Talking, out loud, with others about the same book, hearing their take on character and story, is what would really help me move forward. Oh, well. Maybe some day, right?!

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