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The Aeneid

The Aeneid

by Virgil

Religion Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #7

(Palinurus):
"Phoebus's caldron
Told you no lie, my captain, and no god
Drowned me at sea. The helm that I hung on to,
Duty bound to keep our ship on course,
By some great shock chanced to be torn away,
And I went with it overboard." (6.470-475)

Palinurus's words here show us that even the dead can't be trusted to give an honest account of what killed them. (Well, at least the dead who are waiting on the banks of the River Styx to be ferried across.) That's because we know, from the end of Book 5, that Palinurus was actually knocked overboard by Somnus, the god of sleep (who approached Palinurus disguised as Phorbas, another Trojan). Because the gods sometimes acted invisibly, practically anything could be interpreted as an instance of divine meddling. Check out the third quotation for this theme to see an example of how a skillful politician could exploit this uncertainty when the moment called for it.

Quote #8

Bearing these gifts and offers from Latinus,
Aeneas' legates, mounted now, returned,
And they brought peace. Only look upward, though,
At Jove's unpitying queen. (7.385-389)

This quick transition between everything looking OK to everything being very not OK is another example of the theme of how the gods can mess things up for you.

Quote #9

(Tiberinus):
"Son of Venus, rise.
Now, while the early stars of evening set,
Address your prayers in proper form to Juno,
Melt with your pleas her menaces and anger." (8.78-81)

Generally speaking, Tiberinus is giving Aeneas good advice. That is to say, if there's anything you can do to bring the gods on your side, sacrifices and prayers are a good place to start. So how about that moment when Juno listens to Aeneas's prayers and stops hating him? Sorry. There's no such moment. She just finally gives up in Book 12; Aeneas had nothing to do with it. Really, these lines just provide more proof that the gods can really make life hard for you.

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