The Aeneid

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Aeneas's Shield Symbol Icon
Venus convinces Vulcan to forge armor for Aeneas, including a mighty shield that depicts Rome's glorious future, including the battle of Actium in 31 BC, where Augustus defeated Mark Antony and thereby became the sole ruler of the empire. As the carrier of a shield that depicts Rome so fully, the shield directly relates Aeneas's fate to the future of Rome—he truly carries Rome's future on his arm. But it's also striking that the object most linked to Rome's future is a shield, not a sword. Rome's destiny is shown, literally, on the object that protects Aeneas, suggesting the Roman Empires future role as a creator and protector of peace.

Aeneas's Shield Quotes in The Aeneid

The The Aeneid quotes below all refer to the symbol of Aeneas's Shield. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Fate Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Penguin Classics edition of The Aeneid published in 2006.
Book 8 Quotes
He fills with wonder—he knows nothing of these events but takes delight in their likeness, lifting onto his shoulders no the fame and fates of all his children's children.
Related Characters: Virgil (speaker)
Related Symbols: Aeneas's Shield
Page Number: 8.856-859
Explanation and Analysis:

Venus has come down from the heavens to give Aeneas a shield forged by her lover, Vulcan. The shield (which bears some resemblance to the famous shield of Achilles described in Homer's Iliad) depicts on it many events and stories from the future peoples of Rome. This description thus gives Virgil the chance to portray what for Aeneas is the future, but for his readers is their shared past and collective memories. By inscribing those events on the shield, Virgil emphasizes that they were fated to take place, that indeed they were only waiting to be fulfilled while Aeneas sought to found Rome.

The bittersweet element of these depictions is that Aeneas, of course, will not live to see them fulfilled. He cannot understand what is depicted on the shield because it is his fate to lead his people to Rome, not to live in peace with them there. But because he is committed to a cause greater than himself, he is willing and eager to carry the "fame and fates" of all his descendants along with him, confident and happy for these future times.


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Aeneas's Shield Symbol Timeline in The Aeneid

The timeline below shows where the symbol Aeneas's Shield appears in The Aeneid. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Book 8
The Gods and Divine Intervention Theme Icon
War and Peace Theme Icon
...Aeneas at Troy, if she'd asked. Vulcan gets his Cyclops workers to build a seven-layered shield. (full context)
Fate Theme Icon
The Gods and Divine Intervention Theme Icon
Rome Theme Icon
War and Peace Theme Icon armor. Aeneas marvels at the beautiful helmet, sword, and spear, and finally the ornate shield. On the shield, Vulcan has depicted the future of Rome, including important Roman myths and... (full context)
Book 10
Fate Theme Icon
War and Peace Theme Icon
Aeneas and the Tuscan troops arrive at the battle in the morning, and Aeneas's Vulcan-made shield shines impressively. Turnus rallies his men to fight on the beach with the famous line:... (full context)
The Gods and Divine Intervention Theme Icon
Rome Theme Icon
War and Peace Theme Icon
...catches up with Mezentius, Mezentius throws his spear at Aeneas. Aeneas deflects it with his shield, though it unfortunately kills one of Aeneas's allies. Then Aeneas throws a spear, which travels... (full context)