Causation by mortals, gods, and destiny
Events in the Aeneid are brought about on three levels: by mortals, by gods, and by destiny.
1. A mortal can choose his or her course of action, including whether to obey or disobey a god's instruction or go against destiny.
2. A mortal's actions can be altered by a god's direct intervention or by an uncontrollable passion (or both at once -a god may cause the passion).
3. If a mortal acts against a god's will and/or destiny, he cannot succeed - the result is disastrous.
Mortals perceive what happens to them as "divine will" and "destiny".
1. As characters in the story, they take sides and help or harm mortals.
2. Jupiter is their king. The other gods cannot act against his will for ever .
3. Jupiter upholds destiny. The most another god can do in opposition to Jupiter and/or destiny is to postpone the outcome temporarily. Jupiter often reminds the other gods about what destiny has in store for Aeneas.
Destiny or Fate
1. Basically an impersonal force -unalterable, unavoidable (fatum, or, more commonly, the plural fata, "that which has been spoken").
2. Sometimes vaguely personified as the Destiny-Spinners (Parcae), based on the three Moirai of Greek mythology .
Aeneas has learnt that fate has destined him to survive the destruction of Troy, sail to another land (in fact Italy, the Trojans' original homeland) , and establish a new nation. The gods are involved in various ways:
1. The fulfilment of Aeneas' destiny is guaranteed by Jupiter -and opposed by Juno.
2. Aeneas receives information from the gods (by means of omens, oracles, visions, and dreams) about his own future and that of his descendants (the Romans and their ancestors).
3. The gods represent superhuman forces which guide and control human events throughout the story .
Virgil sees the gods in various ways, often simultaneously:
1. First and foremost as dramatic characters in the story that Virgil has chosen to tell, with individual appearances, personalities, and feelings.
2. As religious beings in the Greco-Roman tradition, each with his own areas of interest; to be honoured, prayed to, sacrificed to; giving rewards and punishments in return; communicating through omens and oracles; upholding certain aspects of morality .
3. As mythological characters in traditional stories (originally Greek); individuals with their own characteristics, motivations, relationships with each other and with mortals.
4. As symbols of superhuman forces, controlling both natural phenomena and men's hearts (cosmic and psychological forces).
5. As agents of fate, especially Jupiter; or opposing it (Juno).
6. As literary devices. representing objects or concepts (Bacchus = wine, Mars = war, Venus = love etc.).