The Role of Fire in Romantic and Family Love on Reading the Aeneid

1201 words 5 pages
There are two integral pieces of love in Virgil's epic Aeneid: the romantic, lustful love (as felt by Dido for Aeneas) and the grounded, honest, family love (as felt between Aeneas and Anchises). There is a dynamic relationship between the two sides of love which causes each to emphasize the other – an emphasis that is facilitated by Virgil's common use of fire and flame imagery to describe both types of love.

Upon analyzing the lustful episode between Dido and Aeneas and the image of Aeneas fleeing troy bearing his father, Anchises, on his back and holding his sons hand (beautifully sculpted by Bernini, see attached), it becomes clear that the love in each situation is very different, despite the common use of the Latin
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With women's outcry echoed in the palace / And heaven's high air gave back the beating din, / As though all Carthage or old Tyre fell / To storming enemies, and, out of hand, / Flames billowed on the roofs of men and gods.

She climbs on top of a funeral fire to kill herself out of her maddened "inward flame" out of anger of the torch of her passion after pledging to haunt Aeneas with "black fires" as he pursues his destiny and begs her to end her "appeals" that set them both "afire."

Book 4 serves as a complete view at the romantic and lustful branch of Virgil's love. The transformation of Dido's love from a romantic infatuation to a psychotic, maddened passion shows the ultimate shortcoming of romantic love when poised against the more family oriented love displayed at the beginning of the epic.

As the story goes, by the time of the Trojan Wars, Anchises, Aeneas' father, was to old and infirm to take part in the fighting but refused to escape the ravaged city with his family until the occurrence of two omens: a flame could be observed on the head of his grandson Ascanius (Iulus) and, a meteor fell to earth. Only then, carried on the back of his son, did Anchises leave the city and accompany Aeneas on the voyage to discover the site of new a new Troy (which would eventually become the Roman Empire).

Burning Troy behind him, Aeneas carries his unable father and