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The Aeneid

The Aeneid

by Virgil

Warfare Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #1

Wars at an end, harsh centuries then will soften,
Ancient Fides and Vesta, Quirinus
With Brother Remus, will be lawgivers,
And grim with iron frames, the Gates of War
Will then be shut: inside, unholy Furor,
Squatting on cruel weapons, hands enchained
Behind him by a hundred links of bronze,
Will grind his teeth and howl with bloodied mouth. (1.391-398)

The first part of this quotation might not look like a statement about war. But think about it: if Virgil is saying that Fides (faith) and Vesta (the goddess of the hearth) and the local divinities Quirinus and Remus will only come back when war is at an end, isn't that kind of like he's saying that war makes all those things disappear? That's a pretty heavy statement about war. If you're not convinced, just look at the end of this passage, which paints a frightening picture of a fearsome demon shut up inside the Gates of War. We wouldn't want to mess with that guy. What are the Gates of War? Just check out the sixth quotation in this section and you'll get your answer.

Quote #2

(Coroebus):
'We'll take their shields and put on their insignia!
Trickery, bravery: who asks, in war?
The enemy will arm us.' (2.516-518)

These lines come from Aeneas's account of the fall of Troy. After all his talk about how the Greeks are a bunch of low-down, dirty sneaks, our hero reveals that the Trojans themselves ended up using trickery when push came to shove. This moment is only one of many in the poem in which we see how warfare makes traditional values break down.

Quote #3

We all went after him, our swords at play,
But here, here first, from the temple gable's height,
We met a hail of missiles from our friends,
Pitiful execution, by their error,
Who thought us Greek from our Greek plumes and shields. (2.540-544)

These lines show the unintended consequence of Coroebus and some of the other Trojans' decision to arm themselves in Greek weapons (see the quotation above). Although they succeeded in taking some of the Greeks by surprise, they also ended up getting attacked by their own citizens, who did not know who they were. As such, these lines stand as an example of the confusion often referred to as the "fog of war."

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