Swimtag Essay

Below you will find four outstanding thesis statements for The Aeneid by Virgil that can be used as essay starters or paper topics. All five incorporate at least one of the themes found in The Aeneid and are broad enough so that it will be easy to find textual support, yet narrow enough to provide a focused clear thesis statement. These thesis statements offer a short summary of The Aeneid in terms of different elements that could be important in an essay. You are, of course, free to add your own analysis and understanding of the plot or themes to them for your essay. Using the essay topics below in conjunction with the list of important quotes from The Aeneid by Virgil at the bottom of the page, you should have no trouble connecting with the text and writing an excellent essay.

Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #1: Women and Power in Virgil’s Aeneid

Throughout Virgil’s epic, there are several women, few of which fit the literary stereotype of being weak and passive. In fact, many of the women characters in Virgil’s Aeneid are quite opinionated and often, very emotional and quick to react. For this essay on Aeneid, spend one paragraph looking at three main female characters; Dido, Venus, and Juno and look at the way the power and gender are interrelated. A more complex thesis statement or essay topic for Virgil’s Aeneid would examine the way these women characters allow their emotions to dictate their reactions and decisions and how the theme of rage in The Aeneid is expressed by women, most notably goddesses. A good conclusion would tie together the ways these women use their power and it also might suggest something about women are viewed in this society—especially if they are given power. (For more assistance, this article on rage and the goddesses should be quite helpful).

Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #2: Predictions, Prophecies, and Fate in Virgil’s Aeneid

Throughout Virgil’s Aeneid, the role of fate directs the main action as the gods and goddesses vie with one another to see their desired outcome. As the hero and object of fate, it can be argued that although Aeneas makes his some of his own decisions, there is no single aspect of his life that is untouched by fate, prophecy, or predictions. Many characters, most notably Aeneas himself, are visited by the dead or are the object of dreams and visions. Furthermore, other characters are the subjects on which the gods enact fate, consider Turnus and the role of fate in his life (and death), for example. For this essay on Virgil’s Aeneid, write an argumentative essay with the claim that no matter what Aeneas might have done to escape his fate, doing so was impossible. A good conclusion might tie together all of the examples you provided with the idea that this is not so much an epic about a hero destined to make heroic decisions and actions, but about man as a vehicle for fate. (For further assistance with this thesis statement on The Aeneid, check out this article that discusses fate and how it functions on Turnus as an example).

Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #3: Aeneas as a Classic Epic Hero

The character of Aeneas in The Aeneid fits just about every description of a classic epic hero. He is of noble (even supernatural) birth, he faces and overcomes temptation (particularly in the form of women) and in general, he acts as the good vessel the gods wish him to be. He is a passionate leader and is able to rally his troops, even when it seems that all is lost. While the argument could be made that Aeneas is not an epic hero, this would take some real work and character analysis of Aeneas, but it would be a tough sell. If you’re writing an argumentative essay on The Aeneid in this light, look to literature’s other examples of epic heroes such as Achilles, Gilgamesh, Beowulf, etc. and discuss how Aeneas, far more than other characters, defines (or does not—again, this question depends on how much you want to challenge yourself) fits this archetype.

Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #4: The Complicated Role of Nature in Aeneid

Throughout Virgil’s epic, the natural world is an incredibly powerful force and is often either the direct or indirect cause for a great deal of action within the work. What makes the role of nature even more important is that it is coupled with the will of the gods, many of whom are quite wrathful or bent on their own aims and desires. As a result, nature is both a force within itself as well as the most powerful tool in the arsenals of the gods and goddesses. This is a deceptively simple thesis statement for Aeneid because on the one hand, it would be very easy to go through the Aeneid and find examples of characters being affected by nature and discuss how it is a powerful force. While this is an option, there’s no real argument to be made. To remedy this, make the suggestion that both nature and the power of the gods and goddesses are of an unpredictable nature. As a result, characters are at the mercy of forces against which they have no way to control and the best they can do is struggle and hope for the best. This could help with the closing argument that human characters are at the mercy of the natural world, of which the gods and goddesses are but a part.

Figures of Speech and Syntax

from Linda Fleming

Syntax    Aeneid I.1-300

alliteration        repetition of consonanat sounds
    181 prospectum late pelago petit, Anthea si quem

anaphora        repetition of introductory word
    78  Tu mihi, quodcumque hoc regni, tu sceptra Iovemque
        concilias, tu das epulis accumbere divom,

aposiopoesis        a breaking off in mid-speech
    135 Quos ego -- sed motos praestat componere fluctus.

apostrophe      direct address to someone distant or something
    94  talia voce refert: 'O terque quaterque beati,

assonance       interior rhyme or repetition of vowel sounds
    152 conspexere, silent, arrectisque auribus adstant;

asyndeton       omission of connectives
    165 Fronte sub adversa scopulis pendentibus antrum, intus aquae dulces vivoque sedilia saxo, nympharum domus:

chiasmus        reversed word order ABBA
    11  impulerit. Tantaene animis caelestibus irae?

ellipsis        omission of necessary word(s)
    76  Aeolus haec contra: 'Tuus, O regina, quid optes

euphemism       use of pleasant for unpleasant expression
    218 spemque metumque inter dubii, seu vivere credant,
        sive extrema pati nec iam exaudire vocatos.

hendiadys       two nouns to express one idea
    61  hoc metuens, molemque et montis insuper altos

hyperbole       overstatement (exaggeration)
    103 velum adversa ferit, fluctusque ad sidera tollit.

hysteron/proteron    reversal of natural order (cart before the horse)
    69  incute vim ventis submersasque obrue puppes,            ??

irony           sarcasm
    37  haec secum: 'Mene incepto desistere victam,
        nec posse Italia Teucrorum avertere regem?

litotes         understatement
    130 nec latuere doli fratrem Iunonis et irae.

metaphor        implied comparison (no like or as)
    52          Hic vasto rex Aeolus antro
        luctantes ventos tempestatesque sonoras
        imperio premit ac vinclis et carcere frenat.

metonymy        use of one name for another
    35  vela dabant laeti, et spumas salis aere ruebant,

onomatopoeia         sound suggests sense
    55  Illi indignantes magno cum murmure montis
        circum claustra fremunt;

oxymoron        juxtaposition of contradictory words (paradox)

personification giving human capability to an object
    169 ulla tenent, unco non alligat ancora morsu.

pleonasm        superfluous wording (redundancy)

polysyndeton        use of unnecessary conjunctions
    85  una Eurusque Notusque ruunt creberque procellis

prolepsis       use of word beforehand (a looking forward)
    69  incute vim ventis submersasque obrue puppes,            ??

simile          comparison using like or as
    82  impulit in latus: ac venti, velut agmine facto,
        qua data porta, ruunt et terras turbine perflant.

synchesis       interlocking word order ABAB
    4   vi superum saevae memorem Iunonis ob iram; 

synecdoche      use of part for the whole
    71  incute vim ventis submersasque obrue puppes,   

tmesis          separation of a compound word into two words
    175 succepitque ignem foliis, atque arida circum
        nutrimenta dedit,

zeugma          two nouns used where only one is strictly applicable
    264 contundet, moresque viris et moenia ponet,

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