The Aeneid

Lavinia: The Rightful Queen Of Rome

In Book IV of Virgil's epic The Aeneid, the gods' messenger Mercury advises the hero Aeneas that "An ever uncertain and inconstant thing is woman" (IV.768-7). As Aeneas makes his journey from the ruins of Troy to the potential glory of Latium, he discovers just that as he encounters several women whom he could marry, a decision based largely on whether or not they justify or disprove Mercury's claim. Dido and Anna, the women of Carthage, reflect the fickleness of which Mercury speaks, while Aeneas' Trojan wife Creusa, Queen Amata of Carthage, and the Volsican warrior Camilla refute his theory with their steady behavior. None of these women are fated to be Aeneas' wife because of their strength, societal status, or race, so it is evident that a woman who separates herself from the others is destined and appropriate to fill this role. Although Lavinia princess of Latium is portrayed with very little character development in The Aeneid, her passivity and unquestioning obedience in addition to her race and royal status illustrate her suitability as the ideal Roman wife and queen to Aeneas.

Dido ruler of Carthage nearly becomes Aeneas' wife, but immediately she is deemed inappropriate for Aeneas....

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