Love and Suffering
The Aeneid by Virgil and Inferno by Dante are both works centering around adventures. In both of these adventures, love is intertwined with suffering. Why are love and suffering connected as such? In The Aeneid, Aeneas suffered a great deal and then was fated to lead his people to Italy and Rome. Aeneas "marries" the Queen of Carthage, Dido, who eventually kills herself out of despair. In Inferno, Dante is taken on a divine mission to see the depths and horrors of Hell. While in Hell, Dante stumbles upon and is intrigued by two lovers, Paolo and Francesca, who were tragically killed by Francesca’s husband, Gianciotti.
In The Aeneid, Aeneas is on a journey to lead his people, the Trojans to a new homeland. Aeneas was chosen by fate to lead the Trojans to establish a new homeland in Italy and Rome. This fate also represents the national destiny of Rome. Aeneas looks towards the future, towards Rome’s power over the known world. In the same way that the Promised Land was guaranteed to the Hebrews in the Old Testament, the Trojans’ Promised Land was guaranteed by fate. History is the guarantor. The theme of this work is that of how a nation came to be.
Aeneas suffers a great deal. Emerging from this suffering, Aeneas will lead his people and conquer their new homeland. Aeneas has many obstacles that stand in his way. Juno hates the Trojans and wants to do everything in her power to prevent the Trojans from reaching Rome and Italy. Aeneas has inner obstacles as well. Until Aeneas descends into Hades, he will never fully gave up his old life in Troy. He constantly thinks about his life in Troy. "Weeping, I must give up the shores, the harbors that were my home, the plain that once was Troy" (Book III, lines 14-15). He was still grieving for the family and friends that he lost in Troy. At one point Aeneas even said that it would have been better if he had died in Troy. When Aeneas descended into the underworld, Anchises showed Aeneas his lineage and all of the great Roman leaders that came from Aeneas. Anchises told Aeneas that the Romans’ great gift would be for ruling. " Roman, these will be your arts: to teach the ways of peace to those you conquer, to spare defeated peoples, tame the proud" (Book VI, lines 1135 – 1137). Aeneas was inspired by this vision of the future.
On the way to Rome, Aeneas and his men landed at Carthage. Aeneas met the Queen of Carthage, Dido, and during a storm arranged by the gods they consummated their love. When Aeneas had to leave Carthage, he reasoned that he was not married to Dido and that he had no obligation to her. Dido, on the other hand felt that there was a commitment between her and Aeneas and that the experience that they shared meant that they were married. After Aeneas left Carthage, Dido killed herself on Aeneas’ funeral pyre by throwing herself on to Aeneas’ sword. When Aeneas saw Dido in Hell, Aeneas...