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Free MonkeyNotes Book Notes-The Aeneid by Virgil-Free Online Summary
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Major Themes


Is the theme enunciated in the very first line of the poem ‘I sing of arms.” Weapons signify battles and destruction. The purpose of destruction, like the destruction of Troy, may be a way, to seek new lands to rebuild on. It is a theme in which the gods are all implicated. The hero in order to attain his preordained goal must participate in destruction.


Aeneas the man under Juno’s wrath must be a hero. War is the way, a hero proves himself, so most of the characters in the epic throw themselves enthusiastically into warfare. However, Aeneas has a sense of responsibility, towards his people and their destiny, which makes him a “modern” Roman hero unlike the Greek heroes of the Iliad.

Destiny and History

In this epic, destiny is an important theme because characters restrict their free choice in favor of the will of the gods. This is because the hero and his retinue are all considered a part of the history of an emerging nation, Rome.

Death and Rebirth

The critic, Charles Rowan Beye considers Aeneas’s death and rebirth as the main theme of the epic. According to him, Aeneas the individual hero suffers a death, with the full of Troy. He is then reborn as the force of Roman destiny. After this, he lives only for his people.

Minor Themes

Familial devotion

Is an important minor theme. It functions, as a kind of unifying factor between men of different generations and nationalities. It also implies obedience to a higher will, as the father is a symbol of authority.

Appeasing the gods

Tthrough rituals is also a significant factor in The Aeneid. Human and animal sacrifices are referred to. It emphasizes the helplessness of human will before a higher one and man’s dependence on the wishes of the gods.

Sexual Love

Love between opposite sexes is considered, either a total devotion and a duty or an insignificant snare, portraying an emotional struggle, interfering with duty.


The general atmosphere, is dark and threatening with a sense of weariness. Flashes of heroic ardour relieve the gloom among the Trojans who are like refugees, seeking a new homeland. The rich luxurious setting in Carthage, with which the epic opens, turns out to be a short-lived euphoria. Even when enemies are being cut down in battle there is an atmosphere of energy bordering on brutality, but very little of a sense of exhilaration that justice has been done. The hero seems more stoical than exuberant and he is no longer in his youth.

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