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Pietas in Virgils Aeneid VI

            Virgil grew up in a time of political intrigue and instability. This turbulent period defined his life, as Virgil witnessed first hand the effects of the civil war, with his estate being confiscated and many of his friends killed. In response to this, Virgil aims to display the notion of "pietas", one of the chief virtues among the Ancient Romans, to the audience, which he uses to prominently describe the chief character of the Aeneid, Aeneas. The three defining characteristics of pietas are: Duty the gods, Loyalty to the country and devotion to the family. Virgil uses Aeneas as a tool to get his message across, that pietas is an integral aspect of civilised society and a necessity for it to function. His first reference to pietas comes as a speech that Aeneas makes to the Sibyl, as she is almost to foretell a prophecy. Aeneas exemplifies is pietas in the way he delivers his oration, he is highly respectful to the Sibyl, and indeed, the Gods. Although he is respectful, he isn't gloatful, and displays his great leadership skill and military pride. Aeneas is also putting his people first, (the Trojans), as he wishes for a place the Trojans can call home. Discretely, Virgil frames the key characteristic of pietas to his readers by drip feeding the virtue of pietas without actually mentioning it at line 111. Aeneas is showing familial and religious duty by carrying his father and the Trojan household gods to safety as Troy falls. Indeed, in a previous book, Aeneas displayed country patriotism by deciding to stay in Troy to the bitter end, showing his loyalty to Troy. Virgil directly mentions pietas in lines 403 and 405, again exemplifying Aeneas' pietas. The Sibyl says that Aeneas is "distinguished" by his pietas, which displays that the Sibyl is impressed by Aeneas' dutifulness and loyalty. Pietas is discretely mentioned in line 424, with Virgil using metaphoric "military" style words to describe Aeneas' actions.

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