The Aeneid

Women in the Aeneid: the Importance of Being Beautiful

Admirable qualities of men in Virgil’s The Aeneid include bravery, honor, and courage, but a woman’s value is based less on their power, wit and brains and more on their beauty, or lack of beauty. There are many instances within The Aeneid where both male and female characters value a woman based on how beautiful she is. Although he is the hero of the epic, it can be argued that Aeneas follows patriarchal suit in equating feminine beauty with value by analyzing his three wives and how long their respective relationships were. Similarly, many of the female figures, other than his wives, that shape and help Aeneas through his journey exist in a society where beauty was a priority for both mortal and immortal women. Often there are political reasons to why decisions are made, but beauty still remains an overlooked subplot in The Aeneid

The first instance of beauty as power can be found in the opening pages of The Aeneid. Aeneas’ journey was prompted by the anger of the goddess Juno. Her rage was based on two determinants: vanity and favoritism. Virgil describes how Aeneas was destined to destroy Carthage, a city favored by Juno, in Book I. Within this description on lines 38-44, there is an allusion to a past judgment made by...

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