Destiny

Don’t leave me, she says. Or if you must leave, wait a month, a week, a day, a minute. Each and every extra second together is worth my very life.

No, I must go now.

And so, Aeneas abandons Dido. He will not tarry even for a moment. He loves her, “but the firm purpose of his heart remains.”

Brutal.

What would it look like for a person to have such a sense of destiny? A real person. We come to expect this sort of grand purpose in characters like Aeneas and Napoleon, but for anybody else it comes across as disillusions of grandeur. Still, this is the idea that is sold every day as the heroic archetype. From sports stars to politicians, the story goes: “he knew he was destined for greatness.”

Well what if there actually are a lot of people with Aeneas’s “firm purpose” of heart? If such people exist, it seems that only a very small percent could ever achieve anything that looks like greatness. Greatness is, by definition, exceptional. As a rule, people are not great. So if there are many people of “great resolve”, some must leave their Didos on the shore for naught. These people must give up real, tangible goods in search of their destiny. How many men have sailed off only to find that there was nothing waiting for them on the other side of the sea? How many people “knew” they were destined for great things, but things beyond their control kept them down. “Unfilled destiny” is an oxymoron; if a man is truly destined for greatness, he achieves it.

On the other hand, how many lands have gone undiscovered because it is easier to settle than it is to explore? How many men missed out on greatness because they wavered in their purpose?

In short, destiny seems to do more with conviction and effort than any supernatural guiding force. So I am destined to drink beer; the firm purpose of my palate remains.  Beer of the Week: Birra Moretti – If not for Aeneas, the whole history of Italy would have changed, and this beer would never have been brewed. The bottle says that Birra Moretti is “The Beer in Italy.” I would have put “The” in italics, but I am sure that they know what they are doing. The head is nice and fluffy, but it does not last very long at all. The smell is pretty standard for an adjunct lager and the taste is fairly bland, but it is certainly a drinking beer. All things considered  “The Beer in Italy” probably doesn’t stand up to well against “The Wine in Italy.”

Reading of the week: Aeneid by Virgil, Book IV – Dido sends her sister to beg for Aeneas to stay. She doesn’t go herself. Sounds pretty middle school to me.

Question of the week: Was Dido as destined to die as Aeneas was destined to leave?

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2 Comments on “Destiny”

  1. Cole Simmons says:

    Two thoughts: The preface to Middle March (and in fact the book itself) is about a girl (or person in general) whose heart longs for great purpose and great deeds, and would be ready and willing to give her entire life. Unfortunately, she is stifled and left to “spread the skirt of light” a little wider than it was before.

    That being said, perhaps one of the greatest men of all time was Socrates. And it is hard to say it was “resolve” or some sort of self-conquering that made him so. Aeneas wept, whereas Socrates was constantly cheerful and extremely satisfied. What can you make of that?


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