Critical and Philosophical Reflections
Edited by Leah Tomkins
Chapter 10: Care and security in Vergils Aeneid: an analysis of the politics of empire
In Vergil’s Aeneid, caring leaders who ensure security for their people appear as a tragically unachievable political ideal. The frailty of the human spirit, however, surpasses individual responsibility. A systemic problem with security arises within the concept itself. Latin securitas means being apart (se-) from care (cura). While separation from care as worry is psychologically desirable, being carefree can tip into being careless. Securitas also comes to mean a failure to tend, which can be disastrous. In the epic, a variety of leaders, female and male, exemplify a range of ways security falls short. The hero Aeneas first appears as a good-enough leader, but the burdens of his task – to lead Trojan refugees to a new foundation in Italy – challenge his ability to tend fully to others or himself. In the end, his psychological breakdown sets Rome on a destructive path of civil war and imperial conquest.
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