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The Aeneid Theme of Family

As we've pointed out under the themes of Duty and Religion, for the Romans, family formed part of a deeply interrelated set of concepts far beyond what we experience today. For example, the Romans saw being kind to your father as a form of piety. The father-son relationship is very important for the Aeneid, more than any other family relation, and probably more than any other human relation. The story abounds in father-son pairs: Anchises-Aeneas, Aeneas-Ascanius, Mezentius-Lausus, Evander-Pallas; you could even say that Aeneas-Pallas functions as a form of surrogate father-son relationship. This is largely connected with the Aeneid's focus on the political world of a very conservative, male-dominated society. By being dutiful to your father, you are preserving the past and honoring the source of your own existence; by setting a good example for your son, you are allowing the past to continue into the future.

Questions About Family

  1. Why is the father-son relationship so important in the Aeneid?
  2. How does the Aeneid depict the role of women in families?
  3. Two characters in the Aeneid (Dido and Turnus) have prominent sisters (Anna and Juturna). How would you compare these two sibling relationships?
  4. Why does Virgil give such a skimpy portrayal of Aeneas's deceased wife, Creusa?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

The Aeneid portrays family relationships as influenced by both nature and customs.

The Aeneid portrays marriage as more about politics than love.

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