The Aeneid

The Facets of Passion and Duty

Duty is a recurring theme throughout Virgils The Aeneid. It plays a crucial role as a key character trait for the individuals that we encounter. If one takes the protagonist Aeneas aside and analyzes his persistent adherence to his own destiny, along with his unending concern for the welfare of his Trojan people, one could entertain the idea that his dedication and responsibility foreshadow the concept of duty to the Republic and obedience to Caesar that might have prevailed in Virgils Roman society.

"Duty-bound Aeneas", as Virgil often describes him (The Aeneid, p. 110, l. 545), often has to make difficult decisions, sometimes at the expense of his own immediate happiness, to fulfill his destiny as founder of Rome. Throughout his journeys, he encounters various trials where each refines a different aspect of his character, evolving him into a hero and a leader. Indeed, his romantic affair with Dido of Carthage forces him to make the difficult choice of duty over love (p. 107), and the remorse that he displays as he placates her spirit in the Underworld demonstrates his sincere regret for having hurt her (p. 175). Concerning Dido, one clearly sees that responsibility holds a greater importance than emotion for Aeneas....

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