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The Aeneid Love Quotes

How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Book.Line). We used Robert Fitzgerald's translation.

Quote #1

And more than anyone, the Phoenician queen,
Luckless, already given over to ruin,
Marveled and could not have enough: she burned
With pleasure in the boy and in the gifts. […]
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. (1.971-974, 978-981)

This is only one of many passages in the Aeneid that suggest love should come with a warning label – CAUTION: CONTENTS ARE EXPLOSIVE. Why do you think Virgil chose to portray love in this way? On another note, does it strike you as strange that Dido is so charmed by what she thinks is Aeneas's son (but is actually the god of love). What is the psychology behind Virgil's making her fall in love through this intermediary?

Quote #2

And Dido, fated queen, drew out the night
With talk of various matters, while she drank
Long draughts of love. Often she asked of Priam,
Often of Hector; now of the armor Memnon,
The son of Dawn, had worn; now of the team
Diomedes drove; now of the huge Achilles. (1.1021-1026)

Do you think Dido really cares about all this stuff? Or do you think she really just wants an excuse to listen to Aeneas talk? If you think the second option is the better one, how do you think this passage relates to the Aeneid's depiction of love more generally? To get the ball rolling, consider this: if love is powerful enough to unite people who have different interests, couldn't it also make people forget their own interests (such as, say, sailing to Italy and founding a new home for the Trojan people)? Hmm…

Quote #3

The inward fire eats the soft marrow away,
And the internal wound bleeds on in silence. (4.93-94)

Echoes of these lines recur frequently in the Aeneid. They point out that love isn't a bowl of roses. Sometimes, it's more like all the thorns from those roses stabbing you all at once. It is important to note the emphasis these lines place on the fact that the pain of love is "inward" and "internal." How do you think this private aspect of love might play out in a poem that is so overwhelmingly concerned with the outward virtues of political and military action?

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