The Aeneid

Into the Woods: The Forest as Symbolic Landscape in The Aeneid College

Throughout The Aeneid, Virgil details the fated trajectory of Aeneas, who follows his preordained path from the ashy ruins of destroyed Troy to the high ramparts of incipient Rome. In the convoluted framework of the epic poem, these two cities appear as among the few absolute certainties, marking the starting and ending points of the Trojans’ journey as well as essential boundaries within which Virgil geographically and historically contextualizes the entire plot. Between these two designated locations, however, lie places of uncertainty: seas, mountains, and forests, the latter of which soon emerge as Virgil’s primary regions of ambiguity. Different peoples are defined through their contrasting relationships with forests; the Latins are described in terms of their affinity for and integration with nature, while the Trojans, by their desire for conquest and construction, are placed inherently in opposition to forests and their associations with the primitive, virginal, and supernatural. Forests function in The Aeneid not only as backdrops but also as dynamic actors, as Aeneas and the rest of the Trojans have encounters that take place both within forests and with forests. These human interactions with nature reveal the nuanced...

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