The Aeneid

Piety and Fury in the Aeneid: The Tragic Flaw of a Leader College

The idea of piety in Ancient Rome is not the same idea of piety that we have today. To the Romans, piety, or “pietas” in Latin, describes a set of social constructs that governs what makes a respectable person. Piety encompasses one’s devotion to the gods, love for one's country, respect for one's family, and understanding of fate. These characteristics are essential for a great Roman leader, so there’s no question as to why Virgil calls Aeneas by “Pious Aeneas” in his epic The Aeneid. The mythical ancestor to Romulus and Remus should possess these qualities; otherwise, he wouldn’t be able to command the hearts of his men in their search for their new home.

If there are to be pious people in this world, there also must be the impious. Impiety is easily defined as the opposite of broad-reaching virtuousness. Fury, or “furor” in Latin, “connotes a frenzied derangement of the mind and spirit, something akin to madness,” in which the behavior of the individual is often brash, violent, or impulsive (Boyle 88). Those who are impious lead themselves to make foolish, uncharacteristic choices with severe consequences. In The Aeneid, characters in power such as Dido, Turnus, and Camilla find themselves giving in to their impious furor,...

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