46 pages 1 hour read

Ursula K. Le Guin


Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 2008

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Symbols & Motifs


Many characters in Lavinia receive and heed guidance from omens about how to act, what is right, and what’s to come. The first major omen in the story is Lavinia’s dream at Albunea, in which she sees a city and a river running red. This dream foreshadows the war between the Trojans and the Latins, as well as the later creation of the city of Lavinium. The swarm of bees is an omen that suggests that foreigners will soon arrive. Lavinia’s hair catching fire portends war, which is a particularly significant moment because it happens in the Aeneid, not just in Lavinia. Just as the poet tells Lavinia that she’ll marry Aeneas, Latinus sees an omen at Albunea that tells him his daughter must marry a foreigner.

Aeneas knows of a prophecy that when his people eat their tables, they’ve found home; this prophecy comes true when Ascanius makes an offhand comment about flatbreads. Maruna and other Etruscans often correctly foretell the future by reading the offal of sacrificed animals. Lavinia justifies her decision to live in the woods with Silvius because of an omen, and she takes the return of Aeneas’s gods to Lavinium as an omen that their exile has ended.