Virgil’s epic poem Aeneid tells the tale of the great leader Aeneas. His greatness was inevitable considering his parentage. He was the son of the goddess of sexual love, Venus and a mortal Trojan, Anchises. He has angered Juno because she knows that Carthage, her favorite city, will one day be destroyed by the Trojans.
Aeneas survived the destruction of Troy. Virgil portrays Aeneas as a courageous, persistent man destined for greatness. He must now lead the other survivors to another land. This journey will one day lead to the establishment of the mighty Roman Empire. To become the father of such an illustrious and grand empire, Aeneas had to be a great leader.
Aeneas was destined to become a leader from the beginning of his life. A great leader must always face adversity to stand the test of time and that is exactly what happens to Aeneas. Aeneas was a man fill with goodness, strength, and courage.
These characteristics gave him the skill to rescue his men by confronting enemies. He has a persistent foe, Juno, whose jealousies cause her to follow him even after he has left the homeland that he loved so much. He does not only contends with an enemy that is pursuit of him, but he face the wrath of one with supernatural powers. The fact that he does this only adds to his greatness.
Aeneas is a driven man. Most people feel a need to be in control of their fate, but instead, he is driven by his. He realizes that his life has a purpose and that is to go to Italy and establish what is to be one of the greatest empires. To do this, Aeneas must set his sites on the future and his fate instead of what he wants.
This was extremely difficult for him since his mother was Venus, the goddess of erotic love which is totally hedonistic. It was a part of his very fabric because her blood rushed through his veins, yet he resisted it for the good of others. Aeneas comes to recognize his historical task with greater precision. His sympathy for the distress of his people, while having a single-minded loyalty to his obligation, is another characteristic of his great leadership.
Right from the start, Aeneas motivates the men who have followed him. He inspires them when they first reach land in Libya, by reminding them of worse situations that they have overcome in the past.
He halted and, weeping, "What place now" he said, "Achates, what region on earth is not full of [the story of] our hardship? Behold Priam. Here too are the rewards of glory; there are tears for things, and what is mortal touches the mind." (Virgil. Book 1, lines 459-462)
A true leader will forsake his/her own desires and wishes for the good of his/her people and that is exactly what Aeneas does. He and Dido fall deeply in love and even though they have not been ceremoniously married, they consummate their love. In Dido’s eyes they are married. Jupiter and Mercury know that the fate of Aeneas is to start the Roman Empire and that staying with Dido, would keep him from fulfilling his destiny.
He is warmed by Mercury to leave Dido because fate must rule. Love is a strong and the ultimate emotion that a person can fee. Most people are focused on their own wants and needs, however, Aeneas chooses the greater good over the woman he loves. He displays one of his greatest leadership qualities when he forsakes love for the good of his destiny.
Do not let love or treaty tie our peoples. May an avenger rise up from my bones, one who will track with firebrand and sword the Dardan settlers, now and in the future, at any time that ways present themselves. (Virgil.Book 4, lines 861-6)
Aeneas makes many difficult decisions which cause him pain, yet are for the greater good. He decides to leave part of his followers who he was to protect behind in Sicily. It is never an easy decision for leaders to abandon his/her people. Aeneas feels the same, yet there are many who are elderly, sick, and some females are not able to continue on to Italy.
It is in the best interest of everyone to leave those who do not want to travel on or are not able to make the journey to stay. He felt that he was abandoning his fellow countrymen. Still Aeneas makes the hard decision for the greater good.