Shoreward Roll Vast Billows

Virgil (Publis Vergilius Maro) born in 70-19 BCE, is among the greatest renowned Roman poet. Virgil’s life was devoted entirely to his poetry and to studies connected with it. He spent the last ten years of his life to the composition of an epic poem that was intended to honor Rome. Though it was not his first poem, it is in fact was one of history’s greatest and most influential poems. The Aeneid is described as the classic of Western society—yet its significance is complex and by no means universally agreed upon. Throughout Virgil’s Aeneid book 1, there are in fact many powerful words, feeling and thoughts triggered and questions raised as to why he wrote what he did.

During the period of Aeneid, it was a time of major political and social changes in Rome. There was the recent fall of the Republic along with the final war of the Roman Republic. Virgil repeatedly foreshadows the coming Augustus. Virgil in a way was connecting the political and social situations of his present day period with that of epic and gods. His great admiration for Augustus, who brought prosperity and peace, gave hope to his country he was inspired to write his epic poem in a reflection of time.

Virgil wrote the epic with the purpose of Roman hero. The problem found with that was that it wasn’t quite understood why he chose Aeneas as his hero and rejected all the other Gods. It was a little obvious that Virgil took ideas from Homer, Achilles to be exact. Virgil lets us know the characters by first starting off in presenting Juno, which to my surprise is a woman, the queen of gods. Virgil also presents Juno as Aeneas major antagonist. I was impressed by how many gods Virgil incorporated into the poems and how Aeneas had a purpose and that was guided by the principle to fulfill his fate. He suffers the tremendous encounters brought to him by Juno; who wants to destroy Troy. She manages to convince Aeolus to alter the winds by promising a “wondrous beauty” as his wife and “father of fair offspring” (65). The powerful words of Juno expressed towards Aeolus caused the “East and South winds together, and the Southwest, thick with tempests—and shoreward roll vast billows” which in result the “clouds snatch sky and day from the Trojan’s eyes” causing the men to wreck and sink while heading from Troy to Italy (81). The whole idea of the war going on in my opinion is all because of Juno. Juno’s anger towards Aeneas seems almost childish. Perhaps the motive of her hate could have been because her husband, Jupiter, ran off with a Trojan. Making it somewhat irritating and a little sad of why Juno is doing what she is doing because of personal issues.

Getting to the part of Dido’s sad story it triggered sadness because apart from what Juno does to Aeneas, Juno will also use Dido to get to Aeneas. Dido is also portrayed as an antagonist. Venus and Juno come to an agreement to manipulate Dido and Aeneas. This was great for Juno because it thereby kept Aeneas from ever reaching Italy. It first started off by Venus disguising herself as a huntress and starts to tell Aeneas about Dido’s life “fleeing from her brother, came from the city of Tyre” and “came to a place where today you will see the huge walls and rising citadel of new Carthage” (335). Venus was trying to get Aeneas to go visit the queen of Carthage, Dido. Venus get Aeneas to Carthage by “shrouding them, as they went, with dusky air, and enveloped them,…, in a thick mantle of cloud, that none might see or touch them, none delay or seek the cause of their coming” (402). Through Aeneas eyes Dido is a beautiful and hard working queen that is building the great city of Carthage. My thoughts on this particular part of the book are mixed, because Dido is pretty much being used by the Gods to only distract Aeneas and her manipulation of the Gods leads her to fall in love with Aeneas and for their fate to end badly.

A question most raised and not understood by me, is when first encountering the opening line, “Arms and the man I sing” why the narrator spoke in first person, but in no way involved in the events. The rest of the book is third person narration. His beginning also echoes the beginning of the Iliad and the Odyssey which also gives the hint of Vigil’s intent is to write an epic. It is known that Virgil studied Homers work for years, but why “copy” some of his ideas to great an epic that becomes very popular. In comparison with Homer, Virgil employed more indirect methods of characterization, he tells each of the character’s personality through their speech and actions. Like Juno, we know she is childish and want to destroy Troy because of anger, and when she speaks you can feel her anger towards Aeneas. So even though some things Virgil did in Aeneid are different to Homer; the one thing that can’t be unseen is his use similar introductions from the Odyssey and Iliad.