The conflict between Jupiter and Juno in the Aeneid is commonly read as a battle between the forces of order (masculinity, rationality, good) and chaos (femininity, irrationality, evil). The present article argues that this schematization, though morally and aesthetically satisfying, fails to account for most of the data. Virgil's Jupiter is in fact concerned solely with power (imperium) and adulation (fama), despite persistent attempts by readers——and characters in the poem——to see him as benign. By systematically discussing every appearance of Jupiter in the poem, the article seeks to correct the distorted or incomplete views of the god that arise from selective examination. The first section looks at Jupiter's own speeches to illustrate his motivations. The second section demonstrates how these motivations, though frequently misconstrued by the human characters, are confirmed by the glimpses of Jupiter focalized through the omniscient narrator. The third discusses the implications of this portrait of Jupiter for Virgil's vision of Rome and of human happiness.
- ©© 2009 by the Regents of the University of California