The Aeneid

Human Nature: Vergil’s Aeneid (IV.173-192) 11th Grade

Through strong personification and amplification, Vergil paints Rumor, the preliminary cause for Aeneas’ final encounter with Dido, and therefore her death, as a monster that is controlled not by the gods, but rather by her own will and the Earth. To him, Rumor seems to be the middle ground between the gods and the humans and contrasts the Aeneid’s central theme of divine intervention. As well as the depiction as a solitary force, Vergil’s choice to give Rumor the identity of a woman plays an important part in highlighting that the major forces at work in the background of this story are all women: Juno, Venus, and now she as well.

By his careful description of Rumor’s many accomplices, referred to as the “vigiles oculi subter, tot linguae, totidem ora sonant, tot subrigit aures,” (watchful eyes below, and as many tongues and mouths speaking, and as many ears listening), Vergil is depicting her omnipotence, and therefore superiority to the Gods (line 182-183). Without knowing it, the people of Libya who spread her word are giving power to whatever she chooses to support as truth, regardless of whether or not it agrees with the God’s wills, or if it is actually true (line 190). In this case, it directly counters Juno and Venus’...

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