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Barron's Booknotes-The Aeneid by Virgil-Free Book Summary
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(VI. 852-54)

Needless to say, Aeneas is inspired by this vision of the future and he returns to the upper world. There are two gates to leave by. One is only for real shades. The other is for false dreams. Aeneas leaves by the gate for false dreams.

What do you make of this exit? Does Aeneas leave by the gate for dreams just because he's not really dead? Or is Virgil telling us something about this vision of Rome's future? Is it just a dream? Will it be true or false depending on what Aeneas does with it? Virgil may be reminding us that though certain things are fated, they still depend on human effort to make them happen.


NOTE:

This is a good example of how Virgil artfully blends the past, present, and future into his poem. By having Anchises predict the future, Virgil gives his readers a short course in Roman history down to the day he was writing. You can also see how much this description would have flattered Augustus. In having Anchises tell Aeneas that the Romans' gift will be for ruling, Virgil is confirming Augustus'- and the Roman people's-belief that their empire would last forever.

At this point, the first half of the Aeneid ends. From now on Aeneas will stay in Italy. What do the first six books all have in common? They each describe a kind of journey. Some of the journeys are actual geographical trips, particularly Books I, III, and V. Others are more abstract psychological or emotional journeys. For example, in Book II Aeneas has to leave home and in the process he loses a clear sense of who he is and what he's supposed to do. In Book IV, Aeneas takes a side-trip into his emotions with Dido, only to discover that that's not what the gods have planned for him. In Book VI, he takes a trip into the future in the underworld and discovers his new identity and purpose as a Roman.


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Barron's Booknotes-The Aeneid by Virgil-Free Book Summary
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