The Aeneid



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Themes and Colors
Fate Theme Icon
The Gods and Divine Intervention Theme Icon
Piety Theme Icon
Rome Theme Icon
War and Peace Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in The Aeneid, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.
Fate Theme Icon

In the Aeneid, fate (or destiny) is an all-powerful force—what fate decrees will happen, must happen. It is Aeneas's fate to found a city in Italy, and so that he will do. Characters can, and do, have the free will to resist fate. But ultimately, such resistance is futile. Juno can delay Aeneas reaching Latium for a while, but not forever. Dido can get Aeneas to stay in Carthage for a while, but not forever. Turnus can fight Aeneas off temporarily, but not forever. And while, for the gods, resistance to fate seldom seems to have consequences, for mortals such as Dido and Turnus, efforts to resist fate end disastrously, suggesting that resistance to fate is seen in a negative light. Though the predestined fates may seem to kill the suspense of the storyline, there's a different kind of drama at work in the Aeneidwhether and how the characters accept their fates, and in the particulars of their journeys to fulfilling their fates.

The theme of fate also helps to link the story of Aeneas with the real-life time of Augustus Caesar, who ruled the Roman Empire when the Aeneid was written. Aeneas's destiny is to begin the civilization that will become Rome, and to begin the line of kings that will result in Augustus. Therefore, the poem endows Augustus's government with invulnerable, divinely sanctioned power: Augustus was fated to rule, in a destiny that stretches all the way back to his great ancestor! Anchises makes this point clear in the Underworld, when he shows Rome's future leaders to Aeneas. Fate justifies not only the poem's plot, but also Augustus's government.

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Fate ThemeTracker

The ThemeTracker below shows where, and to what degree, the theme of Fate appears in each section of The Aeneid. Click or tap on any chapter to read its Summary & Analysis.
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Fate Quotes in The Aeneid

Below you will find the important quotes in The Aeneid related to the theme of Fate.
Book 1 Quotes
Wars and a man I sing.
Related Characters: Virgil (speaker)
Page Number: 1.1
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 3 Quotes
Search for your ancient mother. There your house, the line of Aeneas, will rule all parts of the world.
Related Characters: Apollo (speaker)
Page Number: 3.17-18
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 4 Quotes
Rumor, swiftest of all the evils in the world. She thrives on speed, stronger for every stride, slight with fear at first, soon soaring into the air she treads the ground and hides her head in the clouds.
Related Characters: Virgil (speaker)
Page Number: 4.220-223
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 5 Quotes
You trusted—oh, Palinurus—far too much to a calm sky and sea. Your naked corpse will lie on an unknown shore.
Related Characters: Aeneas (speaker)
Page Number: 5.970-973
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 6 Quotes
…The descent to the Underworld is easy. Night and day the gates of shadowy Death stand open wide, but to retrace your steps, to climb back to the upper air—there the struggle, there the labor lies.
Related Characters: Sibyl of Cumae (speaker)
Page Number: 6.149-152
Explanation and Analysis:
Others, I have no doubt, will forge the bronze to breathe with suppler lines, draw from the block of marble features quick with life, plead their cases better, chart with their rods the stars that climb the sky and foretell the times they rise. But you, Roman, remember, rule with all your power the peoples of the earth—these will be your arts: to put your stamp on the works and the ways of peace, to spare the defeated, break the proud in war. — Anchises
Related Characters: Anchises (speaker)
Page Number: 6.976-984
Explanation and Analysis:
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:
Book 9 Quotes
Yet first the handsome Iulus—beyond his years, filled with a man's courage, a man's concerns as well—gives them many messages to carry to his father. But the winds scatter them all, all useless, fling them into the clouds.
Related Characters: Virgil (speaker)
Page Number: 9.361-365
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 10 Quotes
Fortune speeds the bold!
Related Characters: Turnus (speaker)
Page Number: 10.341
Explanation and Analysis:
Each man has his day, and the time of life is brief for all, and never comes again. But to lengthen out one's fame with action, that's the work of courage.
Related Characters: Jove (speaker)
Page Number: 10.553-556
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 12 Quotes
I shall not command Italians to bow to Trojans, nor do I seek the scepter for myself. May both nations, undefeated, under equal laws, march together toward an eternal pact of peace.
Related Characters: Aeneas (speaker)
Page Number: 12.225-228
Explanation and Analysis:
Now what god can unfold for me so many terrors? Who can make a song of slaughter in all its forms—the deaths of captains down the entire field, dealt now by Turnus, now by Aeneas, kill for kill? Did it please you, great Jove, to see the world at war, the peoples clash that would later live in everlasting peace?
Related Characters: Virgil (speaker)
Page Number: 12.584-589
Explanation and Analysis:
Go no further down the road of hatred.
Related Characters: Turnus (speaker)
Page Number: 12.1093
Explanation and Analysis:
Decked in the spoils you stripped from the one I loved—escape my clutches? Never—Pallas strikes this blow, Pallas sacrifices you now, makes you pay the price with your own guilty blood!
Related Characters: Aeneas (speaker)
Page Number: 12.1105-1108
Explanation and Analysis:
Turnus's limbs went limp in the chill of death. His life breath fled with a groan of outrage down to the shades below.
Related Characters: Virgil (speaker), Turnus
Page Number: 12.1111-1113
Explanation and Analysis: