Reading Guide for the Aeneid


Download 26.79 Kb.
Date conversion06.11.2016
Size26.79 Kb.
TypeReading guide
Reading Guide for the Aeneid: Basic People, Notes, and Plot Summaries

[NB: Version from January 2009, still in draft form. May contain a stray error or two. Still needs to be proofed adequately. Text cited is based on the Latin text, not Fagles or Mandelbaum translation. Also, not all Latin text is translated.]

The “A” List:


Aeneas: son of Anchises and Venus

Anchises: brother of Priam, king of Troy

Achates: comrade of Aeneas

Acestes: king of Sicily, of Trojan origin
Juno’s wrath, Carthage Juno’s favorite
Aelous unleashes winds at Juno’s request (Deiopea promised to Aeolus)

Neptune calms seas

140/150: famous simile with an orator calming riotous masses
Land near Carthage: 7 ships, 7 stags hunted

200s: Aeneas addresses comrades

Venus appeals to Jupiter

250’s-300: Zeus foretells Rome’s history

Mercury sent to Dido
Venus encounters Aeneas, tells him of the lands and Dido’s history

husband Sychaeus, Pygmalion brother killed Sychaeus; Dido takes treasure flees

City being built, temple of Juno, woes of Troy and Aeneas are depicted there

Visual depiction of the narrative (cf. temple of Apollo in Book VI)

Venus sends Cupid in place of Ascanius to make Dido fall in love with Aeneas

convivium and stories from Aeneas


Pyrrhus = Neoptolemus = Achilles’ son

Sinon; Laocoön;

Priam, Hecuba, Polites (son of Priam)

Aeneas narrates

Trojan horse

Sinon—Greek found by Trojans who tells the lie about horse ‘a gift for Minerva’

Laocoön-priest of Neptune and sons killed

Doom of Trojans

Hector’s prophecy to Aeneas in dream

280’s-290’s Hector’s prophecy about new kingdoms

Aeneas rushes to help; dressing up as Greeks to continue fighting (think about disguise and deception and for whom it works and does not work; wily Greeks, e.g. Odysseus)

Pyrrhus = Neoptolemus = Achilles’ son

Kills Priam’s son Polites before Priam’s eyes (and then Priam at the house altar (Lares, etc.))

Neoptolemus is a counter example of Achilles’s true heroism; violates piety and even remarks on how ‘degenerate’ he has become. [4 word line]

548: illi (i.e. to Achilles) mea tristia facta/

549: degeneremque Neoptolemum narrare memento/

550: nunc morere

In this way the continuity of heroic action on the part of the Greeks is broken, and they are portrayed as fundamentally different from the Greeks of even Achilles’ generation or moral character (cf. their use of wily deeds to defeat Troy). A way to distinguish the Trojans=Romans from the Greeks.

590: Venus stops Aeneas from killing Helen, reminds him of Anchises, Creüsa, and Ascanius
In Book II two similar prophecies:

280’s-290’s Hector’s prophecy about new kingdoms

Later Creüsa’s prophecy about kingdoms and a new royal bride, Hesperia & Tiber


Harpies, Celaeno, Polydorus, Oracle of Apollo, Daunus, Ausonia, Andromache, Helenus (last surviving son of Priam)

Aeneas is still telling the story.

They land in Thrace (northeast of Greece); Polydorus (bloody tree/mound), they depart

Oracle of Apollo tells them to find their ancestors, Anchises interprets this to mean Crete (not realizing that they also have Daunus as ancestor, i.e. an Ausonian)

Role of ‘misinterpretation’ and multiple interpretations in the Aeneid

160: Aeneas dreams in of Dardanus and Iasius born in Italy/Hesperia

Aetiological in/re-interpretation

210’s Strophades and Harpies described

Celaeno: Harpy who gives prophecy to Aeneas re: eating tables

Encounter with Andromache (now married to Helenus, after Neoptolemus took Hermione as a bride, Neoptolemus since killed by Orestes, who was originally betrothed to Hermione).

[significant that they (And. and Hel.) have no children?]

This is a kind of New Troy, but they must also leave this behind.

380’s Helenus’s prophecy: ‘Odysseus’ like presages (i.e. wanderings and sufferings to come)

He says they should go to Italy, see the Cumaean Sibyll, beware Scylla
500s They make it across to the coasts of Italy

See the four white horses, which Anchises interprets to mean war (but also that they indicate eventual peace). They offer a sacrifice to Juno. First sacrifice to Juno, and in particular Argive Juno, at the moment when they first land in Italy: note that they then go away, have to reach Italy again. Repetition.

600’s: They make it to Sicily, Cyclops, meet Aechamenides who was abandoned by Greeks. Important for the abandonment of a Greek culture/tradition(?). Repetition of Odysseus like elements, but with a future that does not involve going back, but rather going forward. In the same stroke they both repeat and diverge from a forebear, both in terms of literature and culture (i.e. Vergil copies and innovates in terms of literature; culturally, the Trojans both copy what Odysseus does, in that they return home, but their home is not the old home, instead it is a new, unknown land, and a new future.).

They flee the Cyclops.

End of Book III, Aenas tells of wanderings and that Anchises died at Drepanum.


Dido, Sychaeus, Iarbas, Anna

Iarbas: son of Hammon (Jupiter) and Garamantia, a nymph.

Zeus sends message to Aeneas via Mercury that he must leave

Multiple references in book IV to Greek myth. Book is also very like a tragedy in what it describes.

Dido’s imprecations against Aeneas give the future wars with Carthage a mythic background and origin.

Dido makes reference to Philomel and Itys.

[Here a possible useful comparison to HBO mini-series Rome; ways in which death are used to reflect a different theme: in Book IV it is a way of bringing to life for a contemporary Roman reader the terrible hatred of the Carthaginians for the Romans (and vice-versa)].


Sicily, Games. Acestes. Nisus and Euryalus.

Iris sent as Beroë to women on shore to burn ships.

Jupiter saves the ships (rain); Nautes suggests: leave women/old; Anchises comes to Aeneas in a dream and tells him to follow plan.

Leaving behind the past.

Death of Palinurus (possible end of sea wanderings(?), connection to Odyssey)


Cumae; Sibyll; temple of Apollo with ecphrasis

2x hand of Daedalus fails

126: facilis decensus Averno

129: hoc opus, hic labor est

Encounter with unburied Palinurus, who says that the rudder broke (cf. in book V where he seems to fall asleep)

Aeneas goes to Elysium (not Tartarus)

660’s: Musaeus (Thracian poet, disciple of Orpheus) will take him around the underworld

Anchises tells Rome’s future (those who will be reborn)


Latinus, Amata, Lavinia, Turnus; Mezentius (and Camilla[?])

Turnus’s descent: from Acrisius, Inachus (kings of Argos): He is a Latin (Rutulian) of GREEK descent. His city Ardeä originally founded by Danaë, the mother of Perseus (fathered by Zeus)

Opens with death of Caieta, Aeneas’s nurse.

Connection to end of Book VI. Aetiology.

End of ‘personal’ sufferings of Aeneas(?)

End of the Odyssean section (perhaps a reference to the famous recognition scene in Odyssey, XIX, Eurycleia as the nurse of Odyssey)

The “shore” (litus) as the boundary between the two books, between the sea (Odyssey) and the land (Iliad). As of book VII, they no longer need the ships (which will eventually turn into nymphs).

Erato called upon as a Muse. Interesting because she is the erotic Muse (muse of elegiac/love poetry). Perhaps because the war is caused by the battle over a woman (Lavinia).

Latinus introduced: son of Faunus and Marica (nymph); grandfather Picus, G-Grandfather Saturn

Daughter is Lavinia (also hair on fire), wife Amata.

110’s: eat their tables prophecy comes true: cakes of wheat that carried fruit; still hungry and ate these cakes. Iülus recognizes the fulfillment of the prophecy.

200’s Latins are a ‘race of Saturn’ with no need for laws and restraint in order to have righteousness.

Dardanus (from Corythus, a Tuscan city) went to Phrygian Ida Ida and Thracian Samos.

233 nec Troiam Ausonios gremio excepisse pigebit

Reseeking of origins as the foundational or re-foundational moment of the city

240: hinc Dardanus ortus/

huc repetit.

Ilia = Rhea Silvia

Weird section: horses taken from Circe’s bastard stock

330’s: Aeneas is a ‘second Paris’ according to Juno

Juno summons Allecto to cause war

Allecto besets Amata; Bacchic frenzy
360’s Turnus’s descent: from Acrisius, Inachus (kings of Argos): He is a Latin (Rutulian) of GREEK descent.

His city Ardeä originally founded by Danaë, the mother of Perseus (fathered by Zeus)

640’s: another appeal to Muses ‘open Helicon’ to tell of the different warriors

Mezentius a despiser of the gods, described as impious

Camilla a female warrior [reappears in Book XI].

Evander, Pallas

Aeneas visits Evander, Arcadian come to Italy

Celebrating festival in honor of Hercules’ killing of Cacus.

Potitius, Pinarii, Salii

Lots of stuff on Hercules

310’s “Native” Italians. Saturn’s arrival, laws. Golden Age. Then silver age brought about by profit and by war (or the plagues of that age).

Tour of the future Rome by Evander.

330’s Carmentis (nymph). Carmental gate. Lupercal. Capitol. Tarpeian House.

Multiple aetiologies.

The Shield of Aeneas

Venus goes to Vulcan, seduces him into making Aeneas a shield

Description of shield (ecphrasis).

clipei non enarrabile textum “the not fully narratable weaving/text of the shield”

Rome’s early history on the shield


Nisus and Euryalus (already from Book V)

Turnus attacks camp; then ships

70’s Muses invoked again

184: Nisus ait: “dine hunc ardorem mentibus addunt,/

Euryale, an sua cuique deus fit dira cupido.”

Homoeroticism and heroic action (cf. Patroclus and Achilles in the Iliad)

N&E request the right to attack the Latin camps: heroic action, Iliadic model

446ff. fortunati ambo; Aeneas refers to his everlasting poetry

520’s invokes Muses again: catalogue of slain

580’s Insults of Numanus: effeminized easterners/Ida/Phrygia very interesting

Ascanius shoots Numanus; Apollo then restrains him from further war

Turnus kills Pandarus when trapped inside the Trojan camp

770’s: Cretheus, the poet, killed by Turnus. Amusing self-reference by Vergil.


Council of Gods: Jupiter wants to end war

Aeneas comes from Evander to Tuscans

Muses invoked; warriors listed

Nymph Cymodore tells Aeneas of his comrades plight

Daring Turnus (audax???)

They land, Aeneas kills many, Pallas kills many

430’s fateful comparison with Lausus

460’s role of Pallas’s fate and the appeal to Hercules

Turnus’s spear/lance kills Pallas; takes belt; poet remarks on Turnus’s fate

Juno brings Turnus on boat to take him to his father Daunus

Mezentius kills many Trojans

750’s seems to present a commentary on civil war

Mezentius’s son Lausus dies

Aeneas kills Mezentius


Camilla, Metabus (father), Arruns (killed Camilla)



Mezentius’s spoils dedicated by Aeneas

Dead Pallas sent back to Evander

12-days peace

Narrowing of contest to a duel between Aeneas and Turnus

Evander wants revenge (i.e. Turnus’s death)

220s Diomedes will not take part in the war

Important for epic and cultural models in the work

‘Exclusive Construction’ of thematic and narrative elements in Aeneid

narrative of Diomedes’ refusal; Greek sufferings post Troiam captam

Mention of Venus’s wounding; had Troy had two more Aeneas’s, the Trojans would have come all the way to Inachus: NB: Inachus both the river around Argos, and the name of the first kind of Argos (the father of Io) and the son of Oceanus, sometimes imagined as a river god (e.g. on the shield of Turnus). Why choose this river/ruler: because he is also an ancestor of Turnus!

Relationship between geography and legitimacy

300’s the Trojans called unconquered (invicti?, should this be unconquerable?)

400’s called ‘twice beaten’ by Turnus

War again

500’s Camilla

Father Metabus; flees with Camilla when she’s a child; C. placed on lance and hurled across the river to safety; offerings to Diana; Diana is guardian of Camilla

Camilla’s valor in battle: virgin warrior

Diana & Opis (a nymph of Diana who watches over C.)

Arruns kills Camilla, in turn killed by Opis

Women and female exemplarity at the end of Book XI?
Nightfall at the end of Book XI (Phoebus bathes his horses in the sea) as an example of epic delay, which will become so prominent in Book XII.

Turnus, Juturna (sister of Turnus, turned into a nymph after Zeus raped her)

Constant use of delay in the book

‘Twice beaten’ says Latinus to Turnus

Latinus and Amata entreat Turnus to stand down

70’s again delay (cf. close of Book XI)

Juno addresses Juturna (sister of Turnus, a nymph), trying to get her to stop the duel.

[340’s mention of Dolon?—Greek spy caught in Trojan camp and killed by Diomedes]

Aeneas wounded, then healed (by Venus); returns to battle; again delay

Iuturna delays duel

490’s Aeneas’ ‘brutal, indiscriminate slaughter’

Perhaps reflects civil war issues

Aeneas decides to attack city to force the issue

Amata hangs herself: 660 called ‘by her own right hand’

670s delay again and 698/9 & repeated

Juno gives in: Trojans will be united with Latins, but the Latins will retain their language and identity.

890s delay again


The database is protected by copyright © 2017
send message

    Main page