VERGIL'S GODS

        Parcae (Fates)
JUPITER
|
Juno, Venus, Neptune etc.   Mercury
|
Iris, Aeolus, Allecto, Juturna etc.
|
Human beings




Anthropomorphism                           Abstraction
|----------------------------------------------------------|
Juno, Venus         Jupiter      Allecto         Rumor
 

Juno

Venus Divine Intervention

     ... the other man let fly
His knotty spear-shaft, bearing bark  untrimmed,
With his whole strength. But only the blowing air
Incurred its flight, for Juno warded off
Impact and wound.
                                        (9. 1033ff.)

                                                Amor
Agreed with his fond mother's plan of action,
Put off his wings and gaily walked as Iulus.
Venus in turn sent through Ascanius' body
Rills of slumber, caught him to her breast,
And bore him to Idalia's aerial groves ...
Soon then the godling, doing as she wished,
Happily following where Achates led,
Carried the royal gifts to the Tyrians.
He found the queen ...
                             the Phoenician queen,
Luckless, already given over to ruin,
Marveled and could not have enough: she burned
With pleasure in the boy ...
And she with all her eyes and heart embraced him,
Fondling him at times upon her breast,
Oblivious of how great a god sat there
To her undoing. Mindful of his mother,
He had begun to make Sychaeus fade
From Dido's memory bit by bit, and tried
To waken with new love, a living love,
Her long settled mind and dormant heart.
                                                (1. 941ff.)

Rites for Aeneas' father had reached this point,
When Fortune now first altered and betrayed them.
While they were honoring the tomb with games
Saturnian Juno sent her Iris down
From heaven ...
Adept at doing ill, Iris put off
Her aspect as a goddess, and her gown,
To take the form of aged Beroë,
Wife of the Tmarian, Doryclus ...
"Miserable women that we are," she said,
"Whom no Achaean hand dragged out to death
Under the walls of our old fatherland!
Unlucky nation, for what final blow
Is Fortune keeping you alive? We've seen
The seventh summer since the fall of Troy,
And all these years we have been driven on
By land and sea, by hostile rocks and stars,
To measure the great water in our quest
For Italy ...
    Come now, all of you,
Set fire to those infernal ships with me!
                                               (5. 778ff.)

                                   Without delay, Allecto,
Dripping venom deadly as the Gorgon's,
Passed into Latium first, and the high hall
Of the Laurentine king. She took her place
On the still threshold of the queen, Amata.
Burning already at the Trojans' coming,
The plans for Turnus' marriage broken off,
Amata tossed and turned with womanly
Anxiety and anger. Now the goddess
Plucked one of the snakes, her gloomy tresses,
And tossed it at the woman, sent it down
Her bosom to her midriff and her heart,
So that by this black reptile driven wild
She might disrupt her whole house. And the serpent
Slipping between her gown and her smooth breasts
Went writhing on, though imperceptible
To the fevered woman's touch or sight, and breathed
Viper's breath into her. The sinuous mass
Became her collar of twisted gold, became
The riband of her head-dress. In her hair
It twined itself, and slid around her body.
                                                            (7.467ff.)

Divine Order

"You must not hold the woman of Laconia,
That hated face, the cause of this, nor Paris.
The harsh will of the gods it is, the gods,
That overthrows the splendor of this place
And brings Troy from her height into the dust.
Look over there: I'll tear away the cloud
That curtains you, and films your mortal sight,
The fog around you ...
Look: where you see high masonry thrown down,
Stone torn from stone with billowing smoke and dust,
Neptune is shaking from their beds the walls
That his great trident pried up, undermining,
Toppling the whole city down. And look:
Juno in all her savagery holds
The Scaean Gates, and raging in steel armor
Calls her allied army from the ships. ...
The Father himself empowers the Danaans,
Urges assaulting gods on the defenders.
                                                   (2.790ff.)

Divine Indifference?

This urge to action, do the gods instill it
Or is each man's desire a god to him,
Euryalus?
                                    (9. 252-4)

Princely Iulus, thoughtful, responsible
Beyond his years, gave many messages
To carry to his father. These the winds
of heaven scattered, every one, unheard,
And puffed them to the clouds.
                                    (9.438-440)

He glanced at the high quiet moon and prayed:
"Thou, goddess, thou, be near, and help my effort,
Latona's daughter ...
                                   if I myself
Have honored thee out of my hunting spoils
With offerings, ...
                                       now let me
Throw this troop into confusion: guide
My weapon through the air." ...
And through the darkness of the night the javelin,
Whipping on, hit Sulmo's back ...
                                    (9.570ff.)

                                    ... Euryalus
In death went reeling down,
And blood streamed on his handsome length, his neck
Collapsing let his head fall on his shoulder--
As a bright flower cut by a passing plow
Will drop and wither slowly, or a poppy
Bow its head upon its tired stalk
When overborne by a passing rain.
                                      (9. 613ff.)

Fortunate, both! If in the least my songs
Avail, no future day will ever take you
Out of the record of remembering Time,
While children of Aeneas make their home
Around the Capitol's unshaken rock,
And still the Roman Father governs all.
                                       (9. 633ff.)

    "...  take pity,
Father of the great gods, with your bolt
Dispatch this hateful soul to the abyss.
I cannot else break off my tortured life."
                                       (9. 701ff.)
 
 

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