¶ … goddesses Venus and Juno conspire and interfere in the lives of Aeneas and Dido to carry out their own plans
The struggle between the Gods is main theme of the narrative. There are many times that a reader might even fail to notice the actions of the human characters of the story due to over-interference from the gods. The conflict is between two gods, Juno and Venus. Juno is Saturn's daughter, Jupiter's wife and the patron god of Carthage. In the narrative he doesn't like Trojans because of a decision made by Paris (a Trojan) in a divine beauty competition. Juno is also aware of the prophesy that Carthage will be destroyed by the descendants of Aeneas (the Romans). On the other hand, Venus is the goddess of love, the patron god of Trojans and the mother of Aeneas. The conflict arises when Juno tries to destroy Aeneas (a mortal) and Venus does all in her power to protect her son. This brings a conflict between the gods. As the son of a god Aeneas cannot be easily destroyed. Enjoying the privileges of being part human and part god he survives the siege of troy and later builds the foundation of what would become the greatest empire the world has ever seen, the empire of Rome (Matthews 121; Gardner and Santos 26; THE AENEID Virgil 1).
One of the forces of nature used by the gods in the conflict is the weather. At the start of the story, Juno sends a storm to show his anger. On the opposing end, the god Venus, pleads with Neptune (the god of the sea) to calm the storm so that the Trojans may not suffer. In later parts of the competition between the two gods unite to disrupts the hunting trip of their son and daughter so that they are trapped in a cave. This action is meant to stop the conflict between the two gods, by making their children to fall in love.
At the start of the poem, Virgil prefaces his narrative with the declaration of the theme "warfare and a man at war," and then asking the goddess of inspiration to help him see what causes Juno's anger. The main mortal character is Aeneas. In the narrative he is escaping the Troy, his home town whose walls have been breached by the Greeks after years of war. A handful of other Trojans are also following Aeneas as he undertakes the perilous journey to Italy to start a new life. However, in the journey they must bear the wrath of the god Juno who wants to destroy Aeneas (Matthews 121-2; Gardner and Santos 21; THE AENEID Virgil 1).
As mentioned above, Juno doesn't like Aeneas because of a prophecy that states that the descendants of Trojans will one day rise to destroy Carthage (a city whose residents regard him as their patrons). Juno is aware that the only surviving Trojans from the siege of Troy are being led by Aeneas and so he endeavours to destroy him. However, Aeneas is protected by his mother, the god Venus. The second source of conflict between the two gods is that during a competition in Troy, a man named Paris declared Venus to be the fairest in a divine beauty competition. This annoys Juno as she thinks that she is fairer than Venus.
While Aeneas is journeying to Italy, Juno then orders the god wind, Aeolus to cast a great storm on the Mediterranean Sea near Sicily where Aeneas is looking for a friendly port to dock. Aeolus obeys the order and unleashes a great storm of upon Aeneas. Aeneas is terrified...
Huge waves and winds start tossing their bought on the sea and sends the Trojan boats off-course. As the storms inch closer to the Trojans' ships, Neptune (the sea god), notes the presence of the great winds in his area of authority and tells Aeolus that he has gone beyond his authority. This is however, too late and only seven Trojan ships survive the storm as they head to the closest land which is now the North African coast. Upon docking their boughts, Aeneas calls the men together and reminds them of the past and more difficult hardships that they had overcome and of their great fate and the future which they wish to build for their descendants (Gardner and Santos 23; THE AENEID Virgil 1).
As all this is happening, on Mount Olympus, Venus notes the troubles facing the Trojans and pleads with Jupiter (the god King) to put a stop to their hardships. Jupiter (Venus' husband) promises her that Aeneas will not perish and that he will eventually reach Italy and that two of his direct descendants (Romulus and Remus) will establish the foundations of the most powerful empire that the world will ever know. In the meantime, Jupiter sends a messenger to the people of Carthage so as to guarantee the Trojans' safety.
Despite all this occurrences Aeneas doesn't become aware of the divine guidance that is illuminating his path. One day while he is walking through a forest, his mother appears to him in disguise and tells him the story of how Dido became the queen of Carthage. The story is that Sychaeus, her powerful husband was killed by Pygmalion Dido's husband for his gold. Sychaeus later appeared to Dido in a dream and told her to leave Phoenicia with others who disagreed with his husband who had then become the ruler of Tyre. Dido ran away and settled on the southern end of the Mediterranean Sea (in modern-day Libya). The emigrant Phoenicians founded the city of Carthage, which within a few years became a mighty city (Gardner and Santos 23-4; THE AENEID Virgil 1).
Aeneas is advised by Venus to go into the city and speak to the queen, who shall welcome him. Aeneas together with his friend Achates approach Carthage, covered in a cloud that Venus conjure up to prevent them from being noticed. At the outskirts of the city, they come across a shrine to Juno and are astonished to see a grand mural showing the occurrences of the Trojan War. Their amazement increases when they get to Dido's court to discover many more of their partners that were lost and scattered in the storm requesting Dido for help in reconstructing their fleet. Dido happily grants their demand and mentions that she wishes she could get a chance to meet their leader. Achates says that he and Aeneas were clearly told the truth concerning their warm welcome, and Aeneas steps forward out of the cloud. Dido is enthralled and pleased to see the popular hero. She requests the Trojan leaders to eat with her in her palace (Gardner and Santos 24).
Venus is worried that Juno shall instigate the Phoenicians against her son. She sends down her son, Cupid, the god of love, that takes the form of Ascanius, the son of Aeneas. In this disguise, Cupid arouses the queen's heart with fervor for Aeneas. With love in her eyes, Dido requests Aeneas to narrate the tale of his adventures during the battle and the seven years ever since he fled Troy. The flame of love for Aeneas that Cupid has ignited in the heart of Dido only increases while she listens to his sad story. She wavers, though, because following her husband's death she vowed never to marry again. Then again, as her sister Anna advices her, by marriage to Aeneas, she would increase the power of Carthage, due to the fact that most of the Trojan warriors follow Aeneas. For the moment, filled with love, Dido permits the work of the city construction to fall by the edge (Gardner and Santos 30).
In Book IV, Juno and Venus plot to isolate Aeneas and Dido in a cave by sending a storm to interfere with their hunting trip, signifying the breakdown of ordinary social codes as well. Juno considers the affection that Dido has for Aeneas as a means of keeping Aeneas form going to Italy. Pretending to make a peace offering, Juno proposes to Venus that they look for a means of getting Aeneas and Dido together all by themselves. If they get married, Juno proposes, the Tyrians and Trojans would be at peace, and the dispute between her and Venus would come to an end. Venus realizes that Juno is just attempting to keep the Trojans from Italy but allows Juno to proceed anyway. The relationship between Aeneas and Dido catches the attention of Venus and Juno. For quite differing reasons (Venus wants to guarantee Aeneas' safety and Juno wants to delay Aeneas' getting to Italy) the two goddesses together plot to bring about a sexual union in the pair (Aeneas and Dido (Matthews 121-5; Gardner and Santos 21).
One day when Dido, her court, and Aeneas were out hunting, Juno brings down a storm upon them to send the group rushing for shelter…
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