Fata and Fanda: The Role of Fate in the Speech and Silence of Aeneas

Meghan C. Lescault, Providence College


Virgil’s Aeneid is one of the most influential works in the Latin literary tradition and moreover, in the entire Western tradition. It has been read and studied for more than two millennia, and it remains a critical focus of modern classical scholarship. In particular, great attention has been devoted to the literary merits of the poem’s many famous speeches. This thesis specifically considers the role played by fate in the speech and silence of the epic hero Aeneas. As Aeneas becomes increasingly aware of his fate and his duties, he adopts a new manner of speaking. After Mercury, the messenger of the gods, appears to Aeneas early in the epic and reminds him of his fated course, Aeneas begins to speak only in situations that are conducive to the fulfillment of his fate. He becomes reticent, or even silent in many instances, in settings that seemingly oppose his fate. In addition to fate as the central guiding force of the epic, this thesis further examines the pervasive influence of both pietas and furor on the character of Aeneas.