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A Virgilian Perspective of The Twilight Saga

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IntroductionEdit

The Aeneid was arguably the most influential ancient writing, as we see many of its techniques portrayed throughout modern entertainment. We see his infamous love triangles in novels, his depictions of battles in modern war movies, and his general roles of fate and the gods, which play a vital role in his poem the Aeneid. All of these techniques are put into action in the popular vampire books and movies, The Twilight Saga written by Stephanie Meyer. In Twilight, there is a human girl named Bella who falls in love with a mind reading vampire named Edward Cullen. After putting her in danger, Edward abandons Bella in the second book to save her from the harm that he puts her in. When Edward leaves, Bella turns to her old friend Jacob, who finds out that he is part of a werewolf tribe. Bella, desperate and lonely, mistakes her friendly feelings for Jacob as more intimate feelings. Edward returns for Forks, Washington in the third book as he realized that his love for Bella is too strong to keep him away from her. With Edward back in town, Virgil’s love triangle appears among Jacob, Edward, and Bella. In the end, Bella is fated to be with Edward and to become a vampire, just as Jacob is fated to fall in love with their vampire child, Renesme. Bella’s journey in becoming a vampire closely mirrors the journey of Aeneas to find Latium.

TwilightEdit

Throughout the Aeneid, it is Aeneas’ duty to find the city of Latium, from which his descendants Romulus and Remus will find the city of Rome. Although it his duty to find this city, fate plays a driving force in helping him find this city in addition to his own pietas. In the first book, we see Aeneas doubting his fate and questioning the gods. Juno forced a huge whirlwind at their ships, and their men suffered great losses. In his first speech (Book I, 94-101), Aeneas questions his survival and why he couldn’t have died a noble death like many of his comrades back in Troy. He cannot figure out his purpose in life and openly professes it. Bella also questions her identity in the first book of the saga, Twilight. Bella has never felt like she belonged until she falls in love with Edward. Throughout Twilight, Bella focuses on the obvious barrier between them, she is a human and Edward is a vampire.

After Bella becomes involved with Edward, she cannot help but worry about growing older while he remains 18 forever. Just as Aeneas questions his purpose and identity, Bella does the same when she looks at what the future holds for a human’s relationship with a vampire. At the end of Twilight, a rival of Edward’s bites Bella, knowing Edward stands against turning her into vampire. As Edward brainstorms how to prevent this formation, Alice announces that she has seen Bella as a vampire in her visions. Bella enters the quick formation into a vampire and Edward makes the consecutive decision to suck the venom out of her blood in order to keep her human as long as possible. After she was almost changed, Bella becomes obsessed with the idea of being turned into a vampire. This is similar to when Aeneas tries to recreate Troy in the third book of the Aeneid, which I will go into further detail in the explanation of the third book, Eclipse. For both Aeneas and Bella, the time was not favorable for either of them to pursue their fate.

New MoonEdit

Aeneas arrives at Carthage at the end of book one of the Aeneid and lingers there in a fantasy world with Dido. Throughout the fourth book, which focuses on the vast love Dido holds for Aeneas, also highlights Aeneas delayed in his journey to find Latium. After being much buffeted across the Mediterranean, Aeneas feels safe and comfortable at Dido’s kingdom in Carthage. While being treated as a king, Aeneas easily forgets about his duty to find the city of Latium. Carthage symbolizes a holdup for Aeneas in pursuing his fate. Just as Aeneas’ fate is delayed in Carthage, Bella’s destiny is also postponed in New Moon when Edward leaves.

After causing her harm, Edward decides to leave Forks, Washington in the second book. Edward wants to protect Bella from the danger that he causes her. Edward tells Bella that his absence would be permanent, and as a result Bella goes into a deep depression. In his absence, Bella puts herself in harms way with the help of her good friend Jacob as a way to cope with her depression. As Bella becomes more and more attached to Jacob, he begins to act strange and different. After much distance between them, Bella learns that Jacob turned into a werewolf. Used to hanging around monsters, Bella spends even more time with Jacob than before. Slowly but surely, Bella falls in love with Jacob. Just as Aeneas has an opportunity to live a safe and peaceful life in Carthage, Bella has the opportunity to live a happy life and grow old like a normal human being.

However, fate always comes out stronger than one’s own desire for peace and leisure. Aeneas, in the fourth book of the Aeneid, receives a message from Mercury advising him to continue on his journey to find Latium. Likewise, Bella receives a similar wake up call in her destiny to become a vampire. Bella decides to go cliff jumping and Alice, Edward’s sister who can see the future, does not see Bella come out of the water. When Edward hears of this, he cannot imagine a life without Bella and provokes the Volturi by revealing himself to humans. The Volturi are the oldest vampires, based out of Italy, whose main goal and belief is to protect the secrecy of the vampire world from humans. If one disobeys this rule, they will be condemned to death. Alice sees the future of Edward, based on his decisions, and brings Bella to Italy to stop Edward from committing the crime. Although Bella saves Edward from making such a consequential decision, the Volturi now know that a human knows the secret. The Volturi try to punish Bella with their various powers, but she does not submit to any of them. Amazed by this, and because Alice reveals that she has seen Bella as a vampire in her visions, the Volturi let the Cullen clan off the hook with the exception that Bella must be turned into a vampire sooner rather than later.

EclipseEdit

Aeneas, while he tells Dido the story of his struggles, explains that he tried to find many cities before he arrived at Carthage. Exhausted and tired from the ten years of war at Troy, Aeneas wanted to hurry up his fate by trying to find multiple cities in lands he fell upon. Each time he tried to find a city, fate proved to be more powerful and forced them along their way. Bella also tries to speed up her fate in becoming a vampire by consistently asking Edward to change her and by making the Cullens confirm that one of them will turn her if Edward refuses. In the third book of the saga, Eclipse, Bella finds out that the werewolves and the Cullen clan is not only enemies, but also have terms in which they can coexist in bordering towns. One of those terms includes the Cullens cannot change anyone into a vampire or the werewolves will break their pact, or even worse, start a war against the vampires and reveal who they are to the rest of the town. Although Bella is not yet destined to become a vampire, fate does play a role in bringing the Cullens and the werewolves together in order to defeat an army of newborn vampires. Throughout the book, Bella struggles with her love for both Edward and Jacob. However, when “choosing” whom to be with, she says it is not a choice of Edward or Jacob, but a choice of who she should be and who she is. Edward doesn’t want to take Bella’s life away from her, and Bella could live a happy life with Jacob. But, as Bella puts it, she is meant to become a vampire. She never felt like she fit in until she met Edward and knows that it is her destiny to enter the vampire world. At the end of the war, the Volturi come to tend to the army of newborns and instead find that the Cullens already took care of the situation. They also recognize that Bella remains a human, and give them a strict warning.

Breaking DawnEdit

Aeneas travels to the underworld with the sibyl to visit his father in the sixth book. To soothe Aeneas’ anxieties, Anchises maps out every single detail of the events to come. He gives the details of how Rome will be founded, the deeds of famous and influential men, and how Aeneas finding Latium will impact the world forever. This finally reassures Aeneas into fulfilling his destiny and understanding how critical finding his own city is to the establishment of Rome. Similarly, Bella realizes how important it is to become a vampire in order to save not only her own life, but also her entire families lives with her acquired vampire power.

In the fourth and final book of the saga, Breaking Dawn, Edward and Bella have their wedding and Bella becomes pregnant on their honeymoon. Carlisle, who is a celebrated doctor at the local hospital and also Edward’s father figure, declares that Bella is pregnant with a vampire and that her human body will not survive giving birth unless she is turned into a vampire during labor. After getting married, Bella decided that she wanted to hold off on getting changed into a vampire so she could go to college and live a somewhat normal life for a while. However, her destiny was to be changed in order to give birth to her daughter and to survive it. Jacob, who had left Forks after learning about Edward and Bella’s engagement, returned for his love and support for Bella during this difficult time. When Jacob meets Bella’s daughter, Renesme, he immediately imprints on her. Werewolves, when they fall in love, imprint on someone. Everyone always thought Jacob would imprint on Bella, but fate proves that Bella was supposed to become a vampire in order to give birth to her daughter, whom Jacob falls in love with.

Renesme, they soon learn, is not entirely vampire and has human characteristics as well. Her age is not frozen in time and she grows up rapidly until she reaches the age of 17. She can survive off of either blood or human food, and she her heart still pumps blood, unlike a vampire. She has many remarkable skills and impresses all whom she meets. Bella also finds that she has new and impressive skills as a newborn vampire. Bella even acquires her own special power, in which she can protract a protecting force field. A vampire of another clan sees Renesme and mistakes her for a vampire child, who is forbidden in the vampire world, and therefore tells the Volturi. The Volturi come to Forks to destroy Renesme and the entire Cullen clan. Alice, seeing this in her vision, tells the rest of the Cullens. To save themselves, the Cullens gather the support of vampires throughout the world and prepare themselves for battle with the Volturi. When the Volturi attempt to kill Renesme, Bella uses her special power to protect Edward, Renesme, and herself from the Volturi. Amazed at Bella’s capabilities and convinced by Renesme’s human characteristics, they leave the Cullens and even offer Bella a place among the Volturi. She respectfully declines, and they live happily ever after. Just as fate plays a vital role during Aeneas’ journeys in the Aeneid, the role of destiny has a great impact on Bella in her own excursions throughout the saga. Virgil’s effective usage of fate and destiny has influenced works of art throughout the ages.

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