Sei sulla pagina 1di 14

Destiny seen in previous works or fate:

See aesyclus: How we cite the quotes:

Citations follow this format: (Line). We used Christopher Collard's translation.

(Chorus): "Things are now as they are;

they will be fulfilled in what is fated;
neither burnt sacrifice nor libation
of offerings without fire
will soothe intense anger away." (67-71)

Well, of course "things are now as they are." Thanks, Chorus, way to blow our minds. Oh, wait, there's more here:
sacrifices won't work. What's the connection between these ideas? The connection is the idea of Fate. Basically,
when the Chorus says "things are now as they are," they mean that they are the way they were fated to be, and there
is no way of changing that; no prayers to the gods will help. In this context, the Chorus is actually talking about the
past; when they say "now," they mean, after the Greeks sailed off to fight the Trojans. Is what they say limited to that
context, or does Aeschylus portray it as holding true at all times in the universe of his play?

(Chorus): "[Calchas] spoke,

interpreting the portent so: 'In time
our advance captures Priam's city,
and Fate before its walls will sack
its teeming herds of people, all of them there, in violence;
only let no jealousy from god
bring darkness on Troy's great bridle-bit
if that is stricken first, now it goes
on campaign! Pity makes holy Artemis
grudge her father's winged hounds
the wretched hare, unborn litter and all, their sacrifice;
she loathes the eagles' meal.'" (126-137)

Here, the Chorus repeats what Calchas, the Greek soothsayer, said after seeing two eagles ripping up a pregnant
hare. He interpreted this as a sign from the gods that Agamemnon and Menelaus would successfully capture Troy. At
the same time, however, Calchas is a bit uncertain about the future, and worried that the goddess Artemis will give
them some trouble. He even wishes that the gods' jealousy won't harm them. If Calchas thinks that the expedition is
driven along by Fate, what's the point of wishing that things will turn out OK? Can Fate be changed? To answer this
question, you'll have to think about all the other descriptions of Fate in the play, and see what picture emerges from
their sum total.
(Chorus): "[Agamemnon] spoke, declaring
'Fate will be heavy if I do not obey, heavy as well
if I hew my child, my house's own darling,
polluting her father's hands
with slaughter streaming from a maiden
at the altar: what is there without evil here?
How can I desert the fleet
and fail the alliance?
Why, this sacrifice to stop the wind,
a maiden's blood,
is their most passionate desire;
but Right forbids it. So may all be well!'" (205-217)

Here, it looks like Agamemnon faces a classic situation of "Damned if you do, damned if you don't." On the one hand,
if he doesn't sacrifice his daughter Iphigenia to secure good winds for the fleet, he will be letting everybody down. On
the other hand, if he does sacrifice his daughter, then he will, you knowsacrifice his daughter. Agamemnon says
that "Fate will be heavy" either way; is it fair to describe this as an issue of Fate? Does Agamemnon have a free
choice in this matter?

(Chorus): "When [Agamemnon] put on the yoke-strap of compulsion,

his mind's wind veering round to the unholy,
the impious, the impure, from then
his purpose changed to hard audacity;
for men get overbold from the cruel derangement
and its ugly schemes that begin their affliction.
So he was hard enough to sacrifice
his daughter, in aid of a war
to punish a woman
and as first-rites for the fleet to sail." (218-227)

The opening words of this passage could also be translated as, "When [Agamemnon] put on the yoke-strap [or,
simply, "yoke"] of necessity." The metaphor comes from ploughing; the basic idea is that Agamemnon is submitting to
something that compels or constrains or forces him into a certain course of action. (It's pretty easy to see how this is
related to the concept of "necessity"; if something is necessary, then it probably compels or constrains or forces you
in a certain way, right?) So, once Agamemnon has put on this yoke, he can no longer act freely. But is he free in
putting on the yoke? What does it mean if you freely choose to give up your freedom? Find yourself scratching your
head? Don't worry, that's just what Aeschylus wants you to do. This is just one of many passages in Aeschylus's play
that open up a lifetime's worth of questions, and lead to many sleepless nights.
(Chorus): "Justice gleams in houses foul with smoke,
doing honour to the righteous life;
but gold-bespangled mansions where hands are unclean
she leaves with her eyes turned away,
and approaches those which are pure,
with no respect for riches and their power
when falsely stamped with praise;
she directs all things to their ending." (772-781)

Don't worry if you find this passage, spoken by the Chorus, a little tricky to understand. The most difficult idea is that
"Justice" here doesn't just refer to something abstract; instead, the Chorus imagines Justice as a goddess, who
leaves houses that are sinful and seeks out houses that are pure. With this in mind, you can probably see how this
makes the issue of fate and free will a bit complicated. Think about it: Atreus killed his brother Thyestes's children;
this made his house "unclean." Because his house was unclean, Justice left; because Justice left, Agamemnon acts
in unjust ways. But if Agamemnon acts in unjust ways because his father drove out Justice, how is he responsible for
his actions?

(Agamemnon): First I address Argos and the land's gods: it is my duty to these accessories in my
return and in the justice I exacted from the city of Priam. The gods heard a case without
speeches, which brought men death; they cast their votes for Ilion's destruction into the bloody
urn without division; the opposed vessel had Hope approach it, but no hand began filling it. The
city was taken; its smoke even now makes it a clear mark; the storms of Ruin live on; the ash of
its dying sends out rich puffs of wealth. For this the gods should be paid very mindful thanks,
since we punished an arrogant robbery, and it was for a woman that Troy was ground into dust by
the Argives' beast of destruction the offspring of the horse, shield-bearers in a body, launching
their leap at the Pleiades' setting. (810-825)

These are the first words spoken by Agamemnon after he gets back to Argos; in them, he emphasizes that it was the
gods who crushed Troy when they voted for "Ilion's destruction." (Ilion is just a different name for Troy.) But he also
says that he is carrying out a duty in thanking the gods. Let's try to think this through. A duty is something you're
supposed to do, but you have to choose to do it, right? (That is, you don't just automatically find yourself doing it, like
breathing or blinking, do you?) But how can Agamemnon think he is acting with free will by praising the gods, yet also
say that he was carrying out the will of the gods when he made war on Troy? Is he contradicting himself? We actually
don't think these two ideas have to contradict each other, but we don't need to go into that right now. A more basic
point is that the Greeks didn't see fate and free will as necessarily opposed. As an earlier Greek poem, Homer's Iliad,
makes clear, even if something was fated to happen, people and gods still had some leeway over how it would
happen. Could this idea be relevant to some of the tricky passages in Aeschylus's Agamemnon?

(Chorus): "Were not one man's status in life

set by heaven, preventing
another's from greater advance,
my heart would have anticipated
my tongue in pouring this out;
but now it grumbles
in the darkness, with my spirit grieving and not hopeful
ever of winding all to its end
effectively; my mind is ablaze." (1025-1033)

This passage, like so many in Aeschylus's play, is a little tricky to understand. The basic idea is that they would say
something to warn Agamemnon that Clytemnestra isn't all she appears to be, but their low social status prevents
them. But they go a little bit further: they also say that people's social status is determined by the gods, or, as they put
it "set by heaven." So, they make a question of social status into a question of free will. Do you think that the Chorus
really believes that its social position is determined from above, or are they just using that as an excuse for not doing

(Cassandra): "And it's all the same if nothing of mine persuades you, of course: the future will
come; and you will soon be at my side to pity and call me too true a prophet."
(Chorus): "I understood Thyestes' feast upon his children's flesh, and shuddered, and fear
possesses me now I have heard things that truly are no images; but when I listen to the rest, I
stumble and run off track."
(Cassandra): "I say that you will look upon the death of Agamemnon."
(Chorus): "Still your tongue, you wretched woman! Say nothing inauspicious!" (1239-1247)

Cassandra's opening words could be interpreted as implying that we don't have any free will. If so, they could be
rephrased like this: "I'm going to try to persuade you, but even if I don't persuade you, it won't matter, because
whatever is fated to happen will happen anyway." But do they have to be interpreted that way? After all, even if you
do believe in free will, it still makes perfect sense to say "the future will come," right? Just being able to predict what
will happen doesn't necessarily mean we don't have freedom, does it? It looks like Cassandra's words are actually
ambiguous; we'll need more information from elsewhere in the play to figure out whether she believes in free will or
not. The Chorus's words at the end are also ambiguous; when they tell her not to say anything "inauspicious"
(unlucky), that implies some belief in free will (because they want her to choose not to say anything unlucky); but
things are unlucky if they inspire the gods to meddle in human affairs. If the gods meddle in human affairs, doesn't
that place a limit on humans' freedom to choose? This short exchange looks like another Aeschylean brain teaser.

(Chorus): "And so to this man here the blessed gods granted the taking of Priam's city,
and he has come home with the gods' honour;
but now if he is to pay for the blood of those before,
and by his death to ordain vengeance
for the dead in other deaths,
who of mortal men, when he hears this,
would boast of birth to a destiny without harm?" (1335-1341)

The Chorus speaks these words just before they hear the death-cries of Agamemnon from inside the palace. But
clearly they have taken some of the hint from Cassandra's prophecy. Here, the Chorus's basic idea is "what goes
around comes around." The gods let Agamemnon capture Troy (Priam is the king of Troy), but now the time is come
for him to pay the price for "other deaths." But which deaths are they talking about? It can't just be Iphigenia, or they
would have said "death" not "deaths," right? So they must mean the deaths of the children of Thyestes, who were
killed by Agamemnon's father, Atreus. But Agamemnon wasn't responsible for those deaths. What does the Chorus's
statement here say about fate and free will? How do their words relate to one of Agamemnon's other main themes,
that of "Justice and Judgment"?

(Chorus to Clytemnestra): "Great indeed and heavy in its anger

for this house is the demon you praise
no! no! it is wrong, this praising is wicked insatiable for ruin's success
oh, grief indeed! through Zeus
the all-causing, the all-doing.
For what is fulfilled for mortals without Zeus?
What is there in things here which god has not ordained?" (1481-1488)

Here, the Chorus is arguing against Clytemnestra's excuse for killing Agamemnon and Cassandra: "A demon made
me do it." The Chorus says that Zeus is the cause of everything. But if this is true, that would mean that Zeus is the
cause of the killing. Can the Chorus really mean this? If they do, why do they keep blaming her? Are they simply

The Odyssey Fate and Free Will Quotes

Citations follow this format: (Book.Line). We used Richmond Lattimore's translation. Very
conveniently, Lattimores English edition follows the Greek exactly line-for-line.

(Zeus): Oh for shame, how the mortals put the blame ... own recklessness win sorrow
beyond what is given []. (1.32-34)

click to expand
Thought: Zeus contends that man does have some control over his own destiny but does the Odyssey argue for or
against this point?

(Zeus:) For his sake Poseidon, shaker of the earth, although ... the other immortal gods
united he can accomplish nothing. (1.74-79)

click to expand
Thought: The way that Poseidon functions under Zeuss will is a perfect example of fate and free will combined. While
he must eventually allow Odysseus to go home, he gets to choose how long it takes and how much the man will
suffer in the process. Similarly, Odysseus is fated 1) to suffer and 2) to eventually go home, but his actions along the
way are a matter of choice. The question then is whether, with the end point decided, the path to get there matters at

(Telemachos:) My guest, since indeed you are asking me all ... when a certain man was
here in his country. (1.231-233)

click to expand
Thought: Telemachos considers his bad luck the work of the gods. He feels that the gods who favored them so have
vanished along with Odysseus. Being abandoned by the gods is, to the ancient Greeks, akin to being cursed.

(Halitherses): I who foretell this am not untried, I know ... come home. And now all this is
being accomplished. (2.170-176)

click to expand
Thought: Halitherses will prove the gods mouthpiece, as many prophets do, by foretelling fate. However, like many
prophets, he is ignored and laughed off by the vast ignorant majority.

(Nestor:) The will of the everlasting gods is not turned suddenly. (3.147)
Thought: Nestor disparages Agamemnon for trying to change the will of the gods. Rather than see his additional
sacrificing as pious, he accuses the king of trying to change fate. Even better, Nestor says this in the presence of
Athene, whose will Agamemnon tried (and failed) to change.

(Nestor:) Never once did the wind fail, once the god had set it blowing. (3.182-183)
Thought: Nestor credits Menelaoss safe journey home to the will of the Gods.

(Menelaos:) [] no one of the Achaians labored as much ... know nothing of whether he is
alive or dead. (4.106-110)

click to expand
Thought: Menelaos seems to use fate for purposes of comfort; he is able to resign himself and accept his suffering
(with regards to his missing friend) because it is the will of the gods.

(Proteus, in Menelaoss tale:) But for you, Menelaos, O fostered ... West Wind blowing
briskly for the refreshment of mortals. (4.561-568)

click to expand
Thought: The god Proteus tells Menelaos that he is destined for what was a heavenly afterlife to the Greeks
Elysion. Again, Menelaos can find comfort in fate, where others have found only misery.
(Zeus:) [Odysseus] shall come back by the convoy neither of ... high roof and to the land
of his fathers. (5.31-42)

click to expand
Thought: Zeus reveals that it is his will and thus Fate that Odysseus should reach Ithaka safely and with treasure
but without his friends at his side. Fate, then, is determined by the will of this god and subject to change at his
whim; it isnt a pre-planned determination.

(Ino:) Poor man, why is Poseidon the shaker of the ... on the Phaiakian country, where
your escape is destined. (5.339-344)

click to expand
Thought: Apparently, Odysseuss fate is common knowledge even among the lesser gods.

(Odysseus, in his tale:) We are Achaians coming from Troy, ... come. So it has pleased
Zeus to arrange it. (9.259-262)

click to expand
Thought: Here Odysseus tries to win sympathy from Polyphemos, the Cyclops, by pointing out that it wasnt his fault
that he came to his shore.

(Odysseus:) Next I told the rest of the men to ... I myself was the fifth, and allotted with
them. (9.331-335)

click to expand
Thought: Questions of fate and luck pervade the Odyssey even in the smallest of instances.

(Polyphemos, in Odysseuss tale:) Hear me, Poseidon who circle the ... spoke in prayer,
and the dark-haired god heard him. (9.528-536)

click to expand
Thought: Wounded Polyphemos invokes his father Poseidon as well as Fate to his aid in cursing Odysseus. This is
excellent evidence that notions of fate and free will are not mutually exclusive. Odysseus chooses to blind the
Cyclops and to reveal his name, therefore it is his fate to suffer at sea. His pride, not his destiny, determines the
following course of events.

(Circe, in Odysseuss tale:) Son of Laertes and seed of ... death, but the rest of them are
flittering shadows. (10.488-495)

click to expand
Thought: It might seem kind of weird how Circe just suddenly up and tells Odysseus that he has to go to the
Underworld, though since shes a (minor) goddess herself, it kind of makes sense that she would know the will of the
gods. Anyway, its important to remember that this comes from the part of the story narrated by Odysseus himself, in
which we never get a behind-the-scenes look at what the gods are planning. Like Odysseus, were just along for the
ride in this part of the story.

(Elpenor, in Odysseuss tale:) Son of Laertes and seed of ... when I was alive and among
my companions. (11.60-65, 69-78)

click to expand
Thought: We wish every drunken mistake we make could be chalked up to luck or fate. Oh, and if you wanted, you
could read Elpenors fate as a test for Odysseus, a test of his own piety and, in turn, whether or not he is worthy of
his own destiny.

(Teiresias, in Odysseuss tale:) Glorious Odysseus, what you are after ... can contain your
own desire, and contain your companions[]. (11.100-105)

click to expand
Thought: Teiresias prophecies much suffering, but gives a rather nuanced vision of fate. He implies that Odysseus
might indeed die despite all the favoritism shown him by Athene if he does not discipline himself and his
shipmates. Odysseuss goal, Teiresias suggests, may only be reached if Odysseus follows his advice. So if youre at
all interested in the fate vs. free will argument in the Odyssey, bookmark the heck out of this page in your book.
Youre going to have to address this passage in one way or another.

(Odysseus, in his tale:) Aias, son of stately Telamon, could ... of the Danaan spearmen,
visited this destruction upon you. (11.553-560)

click to expand
Thought: Odysseus tries to reclaim Aiass friendship by reminding him that his death was purely ill-starred and no
fault of his. He blames Zeus, and not Aias, for taking his life and reminds his friend that one cannot always control his
own fate.

(Odysseus:) My men were thrown in the water, and bobbing ... black ship, and the god
took away their homecoming. (12.417-419)

click to expand
Thought: Zeuss destruction of Odysseuss ship is fated once the men kill Helioss cattle. This again shows that men
can influence or indeed determine their fates. They made the conscious choice to kill the sacred cattle, and now they
must pay the price, right? On the other hand, couldnt it have been fated for them to make that choice? This is one of
those classic free-will brainteasers.

(Alkinos:) Ah now, the prophecy of old is come to ... a great mountain on our city, to hide
it. (13.172-177)

click to expand
Thought: Alkinos interprets this sign as a fulfillment of the prophecy his father read. Do you think the Phaiakians
could have done anything to avoid their fate?
(Theoklymenos:) Telemachos, not without a gods will did this bird ... of Ithaka, but you
shall have lordly power forever. (15.531-534)

click to expand
Thought: Good to know. But prophets in the Odyssey tend to throw out these sorts of statements without providing
the necessary conditions. Thats what makes Odysseuss conversation with Teiresias so unique.

[Amphinomos] went back across the room, heart saddened within him, ... strongly killed by
the hands and spear of Telemachos. (18.153-156)

click to expand
Thought: Amphinomos, in a rare epiphany, realizes that what he has done as a suitor will bring death upon him. Is the
fact that Homer tells us ahead of time of his death by Telemachoss spear a nod to some form of pre-determination?

Poor wretches, what evil has come on you? Your heads ... spoke, and all of them laughed
happily at him. (20.351-358)

click to expand
Thought: The seer predicts damnation and darkness for the suitors for their treachery. He turns out, like most seers,
to be right. What the heck is the rest of the suitors problem? We definitely wouldnt be laughing in their place!

[Antinos] was to be the first to get a taste ... sat in Odysseus halls and encouraged all his
companions. (21.98-100)

click to expand
Thought: The poet shows us the gods intention for Antinos he will be the first to die at Odysseuss hand for his
insolence. Do his actions determine his fate?

And now Athene waved the aegis, that blights humanity, from ... and driven wild by the
darting horse fly []. (22.297-300)

click to expand
Thought: Athene finally reveals what we all already know: that she will fight by Odysseuss side. This was destined to
happen and the sign bound to show, so the only question was when. Certain events, we see, are predetermined, but
the execution and timing of those events are left to choice.

Then standing close beside him gray-eyed Athene said to him: ... off the spear, but the
bronze smashed clean through. (24.516-524)

click to expand
Thought: Telemachoss invocation powers his spear straight through Eupeithess helmet he made the decision to
hurl the spear, but the will of a god rendered the throw fatal.
"Give up what I began?
Am I defeated? Am I impotent
To keep the king of Teucrians from Italy?
The Fates forbid me, am I to suppose?" (1.56-59)

These words are spoken by Juno near the beginning of Book 1, when she sees Aeneas and company happily sailing
toward Italy. The irony is that, to each and every one of these questions, the answer is "Yes." Juno will have to give
up what she began (destroying all the Trojans), and in this sense she is defeated. The king (Aeneas) of the Teucrians
(Trojans) will make it to Italy and found a new city. Why? Because it is fated. That said, the poem would be pretty
boring if Juno just sat down and accepted all that, wouldn't it? The thing is, the Romans didn't see "Fate" and "Free
Will" as completely opposite concepts; even if it was fated that something would happen, there still was a lot of wiggle
room over how it would happen. Juno decides to make the most of that wiggle room, and make the Trojans' life a
living underworld until they can finally found their city.

Then, even then, Cassandra's lips unsealed

The doom to come: lips by a god's command
Never to be believed or heeded by the Trojans. (2.330-332)

Along with Laocon, who throws a spear at the wooden horse and is subsequently killed by snakes, the figure of
Cassandra tantalizes the reader with alternate possibilities for how the fall of Troy might have played out. Assuming
that Cassandra hadn't been condemned to be disbelieved, do you think she would have had any better luck at
convincing the Trojans of their danger? To help you think about this question, look at Virgil's description of crowd
psychology a few lines earlier (2.314-329) as the Trojans are hauling the horse into the city.

'You must not hold the woman of Laconia,
That hated face, the cause of this, nor Paris.
The harsh will of the gods it is, the gods,
That overthrows the splendor of this place
And brings Troy from her height into the dust.' (2.790-794)

Venus speaks these words to stop Aeneas from killing Helen, whom he blames for bringing destruction on the
Trojans. On the surface, Venus's words look like a straight-up statement of how we aren't to blame for our fate and
hence it makes no sense for Aeneas to take his anger out on Helen. (As can be seen in the other quotes in this
section, the Aeneid usually portrays the interaction between Fate and Free Will as a bit more nuanced than that.) On
a deeper level, though, it is good to bear in mind something that every reader of the Aeneid would have known from
Homer's Iliad: that Venus herself (a.k.a. Aphrodite) was the one who made Helen run off with Paris. In a sense, what
Venus might really be saying is, "Hey, I'm the one who made her do it, so leave her out of this."

'Here are signs for you to keep in mind:
When in anxiety by a stream apart
Beneath shore oaks you find a giant sow,
Snow-white, reclining there, suckling a litter
Of thirty snow-white young: that place will be
You haven after toil, site of your town.
And have no fear of table-biting times;
The fates will find a way for you; Apollo
Will be at hand when called.' (3.527-535)

These words by Helenus shine a more positive light on prophecy than the scene featuring Cassandra from Book 2.
By telling the Trojans what to look out for, Helenus gives them a guiding light in the form of a radiantly white pig to
encourage them on their journey and let them know then they've arrived.

(The Sibyl):
"So lift your eyes and search, and once you find it
Pull away the bough. It will come willingly,
Easily, if you are called by fate.
If not, with all your strength you cannot conquer it,
Cannot lop it off with a sword's edge." (6.213-217)

These words are spoken by the Sibyl (a priestess of Apollo) to Aeneas; she is instructing him on how to get the
golden bough, which will serve as his passport to the underworld. These lines paint a pretty straightforward picture of
Fate versus Free Will (i.e., if you're not fated to take the bough, your will isn't free to take it) until you compare them
with the scene when Aeneas actually finds the bough, later in the same book. Here's the decisive moment: "Aeneas
at once briskly took hold of it / And, though it clung, greedily broke it off" (6.297-298), What's up with "clung" and
"greedily broke it off"? That doesn't sound like what the Sibyl predicted. Is Aeneas acting against Fate? Some
scholars have suggested that the bough only seems to "cling" from Aeneas's perspective, because he is so eager.
(The technical term for this is "focalization" in that the narrative is "focused" through Aeneas's eyes.) Still, it's a
mystery. Got any ideas?

"Look, how we've devoured our tables even!"

Iulus playfully said, and said no more,
For that remark as soon as heard had meant
The end of wandering: even as it fell
From the speaker's lips, his father caught it, stopped
The jesting there, struck by the word of heaven (7.151-157)

This famous scene is an example of a common theme in ancient literature: that people often fulfill prophecies
unexpectedly, without even knowing it. The most famous example of this is Oedipus, who fulfills a prophecy saying he
would kill his father and marry his mother, because of his ignorance of who his true parents are. (It's a little
complicated to explain; check out our Shmoop guide and read the play! if you're confused.) Often, the fulfillment
of a prophecy will be something relatively harmless as in this case, where the prediction that Aeneas and his men
will be reduced to eating their plates really just means they will end up chowing down on pizza (the dough is thought
of as the plate).

"It will not be permitted me--so be it--
To keep the man from rule in Italy;
By changeless fate Lavinia waits, his bride.
And yet to drag it out, to pile delay
Upon delay in these great matters--that
I can do: to destroy both countries' people,
That I can do." (7.427-433)

Compare this quotation with the first one for this theme. Notice any connection? That's right: if there's anything Juno
can't stop talking about, it's how, even though Fate says the Trojans are going to found an awesome empire, she's
determined to make things difficult for them.

Knowing nothing of the events themselves,

He felt joy in their pictures, taking up
Upon his shoulder all the destined acts
And fame of his descendants. (8.989-992)

These lines illustrate Aeneas's reaction after receiving the armor made for him by the god Vulcan. (In case you don't
remember, the shield is decorated with many scenes from future Roman history.) Do you think the fact that the future
is already, in some sense, written (OK, engraved) means that Aeneas acts without free will? Or is it more complicated
than that? Does the fact that Aeneas knows "nothing of the events themselves" change anything?

"If a reprieve is asked
From imminent death, more time for the young man
Before he falls if so you understand me
Take Turnus off in flight, wrest him away
From fate that stands before him. There is room
For that much lenience. If some greater favor
Lies hid in your mind beneath your prayer,
If you imagine the whole war affected,
Changed by this, you cherish a vain hope." (10.872-880)

These lines echo a concept of Fate that recurs many times in the Aeneid: even though the general pattern is
determined in advance, there is some leeway in how things actually play out. What makes Jupiter's words a bit
different is that they come from the horse's mouth; from this speech, Jupiter sounds like the guy who enforces the
rule of Fate, and gives permission for small divergences from the overall plan. We say "enforces" because Jupiter
isn't the one who decides what's fated; that job falls to the three goddesses known as the Parcae, who spin out fate
like a thread, as the beginning of the poem tells us: "so the Parcae spun" (1.35). Virgil's original audience would have
been familiar enough with Homer to hear this line as a contrast with the beginning of the Iliad, which attributes the
entire story to "the will of Zeus." Zeus, of course, is the Greek version of Jupiter. What do you make of Homer and
Virgil's different perspectives on fate and the king of the gods?

"While fortune seemed
Compliant, and the Fates let power rest
With Latium, your brother and your city
Had my protection. Now I see the soldier
Meeting a destiny beyond his strength:
His doom's day, mortal shock of the enemy,
Are now at hand. I cannot bear to watch
This duel, this pact. If you dare help your brother
More at close quarters, do it, and well done.
A better time may follow present pain." (12.197-206)

Once again, Juno addresses the Aeneid's most common portrayal of Fate: fixed on the macro level, a bit more open
on the micro level. By this point, she has resigned herself to defeat, but she's still willing to let someone else
(Turnus's sister, the nymph Juturna) interfere, provided she's willing to risk taking the heat for it. What do you make of
the last line of Juno's speech? Do you think she is genuinely hopeful that things might turn out alright for Turnus? Is
this just wishful thinking (something a bit different from being hopeful)? Or is she just messing with Juturna's mind?

The theme of Fate is hugely important in the Aeneid. Heck, it seems like every five minutes we're
being reminded that the Trojans are going to found a new city in Italy. When we see the souls of
future Roman heroes in the underworld, waiting to be born, or the exciting images of Roman history
on Aeneas's shield, these strongly suggest that the Trojans are going to be successful (because
otherwise, you know, there'd be some kind of weird time-paradox going on). You might think that this
takes away from the poem's suspense, but that's kind of missing the point. You see, the ancients
had a pretty nuanced view of Fate. As the goddess Juno never gets tired of reminding us in the
Aeneid, destiny may determine that the Trojans will found a city in Italy, but it doesn't stipulate how
they end up doing it. Juno uses that as her angle to give the Trojans an incredible amount of trouble.
The flip-side of this is that, even though the ancients believed in Fate, this didn't mean that they
disbelieved in Free Will. Thus, when Aeneas tells Dido, "I sail for Italy not of my own free will," he
doesn't mean that the Fates are forcing him to go there. What he means is, he has an obligation to
go there, which he is choosing to live up to

Gligmamesh: fate and destiny

Men are not prisoners of fate, but only prisoners of their own minds. Franklin D.

However, Jesus added that not his will, but God's will, should be done (Matthew 26:36-45, Mark 14:32-41, Luke