The Theme Of Fate In Aeneid
Every human is scared of death, fate, and destiny, and every human wants to avoid them. While many people believe in life after death, most people choose to keep away from the topic because of fear of the unknown. However, when people decided to discuss what they think about the fact that life is not permanent and it has to come to an end one day, people begin to wonder whether there is immortality and whether death can be cheated. The thoughts of fate are not new and they are here to stay (Campbell, 1964). Death, fate, and destiny have disturbed man for ages. The two ancient stories that have significantly featured the theme of fate are ‘Aeneid’ and ‘The Epic of Gilgamesh.’ In these literary works, the main characters Aeneas and Gilgamesh are both obsessed with their fate to an instance that these epic tales accurately reflect the ancient culture and societies during their times. From the stories of fate, it is easy to observe that the people who lived during these times were also worried about death and fate. The two stories demonstrate that both men and women in the entire human life have been very aware of their own mortality and they so much want to live on eternity, life after death.
The early renaissance humanist philosopher Giovanni Pico Della Mirandola in his words said that human beings are the masters of their own life since the nature of a human is a repository of instruments through which each person can shape his or her life. There are however people who do not agree with Giovanni Pico Della Mirandola, they say that human life is as a result of destiny – irreversible and final will of the higher powers. Fate is unavoidable, and there is no choice, and it is simply the human destiny and followed by the end of everything, and that is death. Over the years, legends and myths that deals with destiny and fate have reflected on human beliefs. It is apparent that in almost every human age, man has always wondered over fate and the power it wields. The people of Ancient Greece are some of the early humans who have always how fate determines human lives. In Greece ancient times, it was a general belief that no one can escape fate. Even though it was widely known that fate is inevitable, there were several stories and cultures that told otherwise including Oedipus at Colonus, the legend of Perseus, and Homer’s the Iliad. These characters are told to have altered their fate during their times. Overall, fate and destiny in ancient Greece is a scenario that cannot be avoided except through relations and interactions with the Greek gods, who may have the powers to extend fate. The ancient Greek people had the belief that an individual’s fate cannot be altered. Even if one tries to change it, it still comes back to the originally destined fate this was true for Perseus’s case.
The role of fate is very elaborate in Virgil’s Aeneid. Virgil truly believed that the Romans were destined to be the w9rld rulers. Fate lies in the hands of the gods and it is the gods alone who determine a person’s humanity. Jupiter the god is portrayed to have supreme powers over the other gods. While the other gods may be interested in thwarting Jupiter’s powers, they fail to succeed. The most the other gods can do is to temporarily alter Jupiter’s fate and bring chaos. The story starts and ends with divine intervention. There are two types of fate in Aeneid, universal fate and individuals’ fate. Individual fate is wielded by the small gods who have the feeling that they can intervene while the universal fate cannot be thwarted, altered or thwarted because it is predetermined. Aeneas is portrayed as a person who is blessed because he is directly connected to mankind’s universal fate. However, he is destined to experience lots of trials and tribulations during his lifetime because other gods are trying to interfere with his affairs and making efforts to rewrite fate from its course.
Fate is the primary theme is Aeneid. The main character Aeneas’s fate is to become the hero who will ultimately champion the glorification of Rome. Aeneas’ role in assisting restore the Roman state cannot be underestimated as he embodies the character traits of a true noble Roman. Virgil had a strong belief that world affairs are controlled by the gods or fate, and not by the people.in this school of thought, it is clear that fate had it that Rome will attain its greatness and nothing would change that destiny. Virgil uses prophesy to emphasize on the role of the gods in determining fate and destiny. A perfect example of fate is seen in the conversation between Venus and Jupiter where a prophecy is declared. Jupiter prophesies to Venus that and ‘Romulus shall take the rulership and build the walls of Mars’ own city… I give them empire without end’ (10-1), and that Aeneas will be carried and ‘Romulus shall take the rulership and build the walls of Mars’ own city… I give them empire without end’ (10-1). It is this prophesy that establishes what needs to be given in the conclusion of the epic. Vigil reveals the failures and successes of the divine intervention through Aenea’s journey to greatness.
The author begins to develop Aeneas’s character in Book III, preparing him for his final and true destiny. The most interesting part of the journey is that he is made aware of his destiny and he begins to pursue it (George, 2007). Fate starts to reveal itself as Aeneas recounts his adventures to Dido. Aeneas concludes by saying that he was confident the gods “drove me upon your shore’ (80). The author then begins portraying Aeneas as the symbol of the Roman people. Mercury is seen intervening on the relationship between Dido and Aeneas, asking him if he is ‘forgetful’ (90) of his own fate. Mercury takes it upon himself and reminds Aeneas by saying that ‘The very god of gods, whose power sways / both earth and heaven, send me down to you / from bright Olympus’ (IV. 357-9). Aeneas is ‘struck dumb’ (373) and ‘stunned’ (373) by the vision and is suddenly aware of fate after his fight with Dido ends. The importance of this fight was to forcefully remind Aeneas of his fate, and this could have been gods using Mercury to remind him. It is after this fight with Jupiter that Aeneas becomes more focused on his fate hungrier to accomplish his objective. Once he leaves Dildo, the universal Carthage is achieved. The role of fate begins to manifest as he becomes victorious in his quest.
In the second fate story, The Epic of Gilgamesh, at the beginning Gilgamesh is the ruling ancient king of Uruk and he has a gift of foresight (Dickson, 2007). Gilgamesh has several dreams regarding his fate and he has unconditionally accepted the fate placed upon him by the gods. Enkidu helps the king interpret his dream, and he says that the father of the gods, Enlil has given Gilgamesh the kingship, and that is his destiny. However, Enkidu tells the king that eternal life is however not his destiny.
Instead of being upset by the god’s position that he will not live forever, Gilgamesh decides to put his name alongside the famous names in history. He sets the standards to write history that no man has ever written. He decides to raise a monument to the gods (70-71) and by engaging in historical fights. Gilgamesh makes his mission a reality, as he goes ahead to defeat the forest guardian, Humbaba and later on the bull of heaven. In the battles, the kind declares that he has nothing to fear because when he finally falls, he shall have left behind a name that will remain in history forever. Gilgamesh has now reconciled by himself and has rested knowing that the gods determined his fate and he will die, but he begins to desire to live an eternal life. After Gilgamesh kills the two beasts, the gods declare that his friend Enkidu must die. He is obviously disturbed by this fate. he finally comes to the reality that death is inevitable, and not some myth that has no bearing. He begins to think he can defeat fate, but ultimately, he died.
- Campbell J. (1964). The Masks of go: Occidental Mythology. Vol 3, Penguin: New York.
- Dickson K. (2007). Looking at the other in Gilgamesh. Journal of the American Oriental Society. Vol 127, No. 2 pp 171-182.
- George, A. (2000). The epic of Gilgamesh: the Babylonian epic poem and other texts in Akkadian and Sumerian [New York]: Penguin Books,