How we cite our quotes:
Your new-found manhood, child. By striving so
Men reach the stars, dear son of gods
And sire of gods to come. All fated wars
Will quiet down, and justly, in the end
Under descendants of Assaracus,
For Troy no longer bounds you." (9.892-898)
These lines, spoken by Apollo to Ascanius after he kills his first man in battle, express The Aeneid's prevalent theme of how Roman imperial power will bring an end to wars between the nations within its domain.
"My son, I stained your name with wickedness—
Driven out as I was, under a cloud,
From throne and scepter of my ancestors.
Long since I owed my land, my hating folk,
Punishment for my sins." (10.1191-1195)
These lines are spoken by Mezentius as a sort of apology for his son, Lausus, who has just died trying to save him. Thus, they do not immediately address the theme of power. That said, by alluding to the fact that Mezentius was exiled by his own people, they reveal an important truth about political power – namely, that subjugated peoples sometimes have the power to overthrow their rulers. This is not a common theme in the Aeneid, which usually portrays power as absolute – we never hear about the possibility that, say, the conquered peoples of the Roman empire might rise up against their overlords. Why do you think this is so? How would you compare the Aeneid's depictions of the rule of Mezentius with that of rule of the Caesars?
"Much earlier than this
I should have wished—and wiser it would have been—
To meet and take decisions in this crisis,
Not with the enemy at the walls, as now." (11.410-413)
Unlike most of the other quotations we have looked at under this theme, which extol the virtues of power, these lines by King Latinus express the frustration of the powerless. It is always nicer to be able to make decisions for yourself, in your own good time, rather than under the threat of a bunch of marauding Trojans destroying your city – don't you think?