Irrational Women In The Aeneid

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I will argue that many of the female characters in the Aeneid are portrayed as irrational, rebellious and pose various threats to the Roman cause. The actions of the women are often in deep contrast to the events fated to happen. This depiction of women is significant because it allows the men, who are often the cause of their irrationality, to be portrayed as the rational and restrained beings in this epic.
Dido, the queen of Carthage and Aeneas’s unintended lover, is a prime example of how women are depicted in this epic. Her love for Aeneas makes her irrational and drives her to resist the plans set in motion by the Fates. Before Aeneas’s arrival to Carthage, Dido is seen ruling her people with “fairness” (I 717). In addition, Dido “[urges] on the work of her coming kingdom” and is focused on welfare of her people (I 711). Through this description, readers can understand that Dido dealt with her people fairly and joyfully and exhibited a rational mindset. However, with the appearance of Aeneas, Dido, “ignorant of destiny” is set on the path “to madness”. (I 422, I 922). Dido’s new personality drives her to
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However, many of the female characters attempt to resist against the predetermined path. Ironically, many of women do not seek the irrational path until the Trojans arrive in their respective lands. Though they are ultimately defeated, their actions pose a serious threat to the formation of the Roman Empire. Their attempts would have been successful had it not been for the men. The men confront the women’s irrationality with their rationality and adherence to the fated path. By depicting the genders in these ways, Virgil clearly show the men as the superior gender in this epic. While the men will be remembered for their contributions to the founding of the Roman empire, the women and their failed attempts will be a warning to all those who stand in the way of
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