Aeneid (/ɪˈniːɪd/; Latin: Aeneis [ae̯ˈneːɪs]) is a Latin
epic poem, written by
Virgil between 29 and 19 BC, that tells the
legendary story of Aeneas, a Trojan who travelled to Italy, where he
became the ancestor of the Romans. It comprises 9,896 lines in
dactylic hexameter. The first six of the poem's twelve books tell
the story of Aeneas's wanderings from
Troy to Italy, and the poem's
second half tells of the Trojans' ultimately victorious war upon the
Latins, under whose name
Aeneas and his Trojan followers are destined
to be subsumed.
Aeneas was already known to
Greco-Roman legend and myth,
having been a character in the Iliad.
Virgil took the disconnected
tales of Aeneas's wanderings, his vague association with the
foundation of Rome and a personage of no fixed characteristics other
than a scrupulous pietas, and fashioned The
Aeneid into a compelling
founding myth or national epic that tied Rome to the legends of Troy,
explained the Punic Wars, glorified traditional Roman virtues, and
Julio-Claudian dynasty as descendants of the founders,
heroes, and gods of Rome and Troy.
Aeneid is widely regarded as Virgil's masterpiece and one of
the greatest works of
1.1 Journey to Italy (books 1–6)
1.1.2 Storm and Refuge
1.1.3 Trojan Horse
Fate of Queen Dido
1.2 War in Italy (books 7–12)
3 Virgil's death and editing
6.2 Divine intervention
6.4 Violence and conflict
8.1 Parodies and travesties
9 See also
11 Further reading
12 External links
See also: Characters in the
Aeneid and Parallels between the Aeneid
Iliad and Odyssey
Aeneid can be divided into two halves based on the disparate
subject matter of Books 1–6 (Aeneas's journey to
Latium in Italy)
and Books 7–12 (the war in Latium). These two halves are commonly
regarded as reflecting Virgil's ambition to rival
Homer by treating
both the Odyssey's wandering theme and the Iliad's warfare themes.
This is, however, a rough correspondence, the limitations of which
should be borne in mind.
Journey to Italy (books 1–6)
Virgil begins his poem with a statement of his theme (Arma virumque
cano ..., "I sing of arms and of a man ...") and an
invocation to the Muse, falling some seven lines after the poem's
inception (Musa, mihi causas memora ..., "O Muse, recount to me
the causes ..."). He then explains the reason for the principal
conflict in the story: the resentment held by the goddess Juno against
the Trojan people. This is consistent with her role throughout the
Storm and Refuge
Also in the manner of Homer, the story proper begins in medias res
(into the middle of things), with the Trojan fleet in the eastern
Mediterranean, heading in the direction of Italy. The fleet, led by
Aeneas, is on a voyage to find a second home. It has been foretold
that in Italy he will give rise to a race both noble and courageous, a
race which will become known to all nations. Juno is wrathful, because
she had not been chosen in the judgment of Paris, and because her
favorite city, Carthage, will be destroyed by Aeneas's descendants.
Also, Ganymede, a Trojan prince, was chosen to be the cup bearer to
her husband, Jupiter—replacing Juno's daughter, Hebe. Juno proceeds
to Aeolus, King of the Winds, and asks that he release the winds to
stir up a storm in exchange for a bribe (Deiopea, the loveliest of all
her sea nymphs, as a wife).
Aeolus does not accept the bribe, but
agrees to carry out Juno's orders (line 77, "My task is / To fulfill
your commands"); the storm then devastates the fleet.
Dido at Carthage, ca. 1875, Princeton
University Art Museum
Neptune takes notice: although he himself is no friend of the Trojans,
he is infuriated by Juno's intrusion into his domain, and stills the
winds and calms the waters, after making sure that the winds would not
bother the Trojans again, lest they be punished more harshly than they
were this time. The fleet takes shelter on the coast of Africa, where
Aeneas rouses the spirits of his men, reassuring them that they have
been through worse situations before. There, Aeneas's mother, Venus,
in the form of a huntress very similar to the goddess Diana,
encourages him and recounts to him the history of Carthage.
Aeneas ventures into the city, and in the temple of Juno
he seeks and gains the favor of Dido, queen of the city, which has
only recently been founded by refugees from Tyre and which will later
become a great imperial rival and enemy to Rome.
Meanwhile, Venus has her own plans. She goes to her son, Aeneas's
half-brother Cupid, and tells him to imitate
Ascanius (the son of
Aeneas and his first wife Creusa). Disguised as such,
Cupid goes to
Dido and offers the gifts expected from a guest. With Dido's motherly
love revived as she cradles the boy during a banquet given in honour
of the Trojans,
Cupid secretly weakens her sworn fidelity to the soul
of her late husband, Sychaeus, who had been murdered by her brother,
Aeneas sadly recounts the events that occasioned the Trojans' arrival.
He begins the tale shortly after the war described in the Iliad:
Cunning Ulysses devised a way for Greek warriors to gain entry into
the walled city of
Troy by hiding in a large wooden horse. The Greeks
pretended to sail away, leaving a warrior, Sinon, to inform the
Trojans that the horse was an offering and that if it were taken into
the city, the Trojans would be able to conquer Greece. The Trojan
Laocoön saw through the Greek plot and urged the horse's
destruction, but his protests fell on deaf ears, so he hurled his
spear at the horse. Then, in what would be seen by the Trojans as
punishment from the gods, two serpents emerged from the sea and
devoured Laocoön, along with his two sons. The Trojans then took the
horse inside the fortified walls, and after nightfall the armed Greeks
emerged from it, opening the city's gates to allow the returned Greek
army to slaughter the Trojans.
In a dream, Hector, the fallen Trojan prince, advised
Aeneas to flee
with his family.
Aeneas awoke and saw with horror what was happening
to his beloved city. At first he tried to fight the enemy, but soon he
lost his comrades and was left alone to fend off the Greeks. He
witnessed the murder of
Priam by Achilles' son Pyrrhus. His mother,
Venus, appeared to him and led him back to his house.
Aeneas tells of
his escape with his son, Ascanius, and father, Anchises, after the
occurrence of various omens (Ascanius' head catching fire without his
being harmed, a clap of thunder and a shooting star). After fleeing
Troy, he goes back for his wife, Creusa, but she has been killed. Her
ghost tells him that his destiny is to found a new city in the West.
He tells of how, rallying the other survivors, he built a fleet of
ships and made landfall at various locations in the Mediterranean:
Thrace, where they find the last remains of a fellow Trojan,
Polydorus; the Strophades, where they encounter the Harpy Celaeno, who
tells them to leave her island and to look for Italy; Crete, which
they believe to be the land where they are to build their city, which
Pergamea (but they are set straight by Apollo); and
Buthrotum. This last city had been built in an attempt to replicate
Troy. In Buthrotum,
Aeneas meets Andromache, the widow of Hector. She
is still lamenting the loss of her valiant husband and beloved child.
Aeneas sees and meets Helenus, one of Priam's sons, who
has the gift of prophecy. Through him,
Aeneas learns the destiny laid
out for him: he is divinely advised to seek out the land of Italy
(also known as Ausonia or Hesperia), where his descendants will not
only prosper, but in time rule the entire known world. In addition,
Helenus also bids him go to the
Sibyl in Cumae.
The suicide of Queen
Dido (book 4), sculpture by Claude-Augustin
Cayot (fr) (1667–1722)
Heading into the open sea,
Aeneas leaves Buthrotum, rounds the SE tip
of Italy and makes his way towards
Sicily (Trinacria). There, they are
caught in the whirlpool of
Charybdis and driven out to sea. Soon they
come ashore at the land of the Cyclopes. There they meet a Greek,
Achaemenides, one of Ulysses' men, who has been left behind when his
comrades escaped the cave of Polyphemus. They take
board and narrowly escape Polyphemus. Shortly after,
peacefully of old age, and
Aeneas sails to Carthage.
Fate of Queen Dido
Aeneas finishes his story, and
Dido realizes that she has fallen in
love with Aeneas. Juno seizes upon this opportunity to make a deal
with Venus, Aeneas's mother, with the intention of distracting Aeneas
from his destiny of founding a city in Italy.
Aeneas is inclined to
return Dido's love, and during a hunting expedition, a storm drives
them into a small covered grove in which
have sex, an event that
Dido takes to indicate a marriage between
them. But when Jupiter sends Mercury to remind
Aeneas of his duty, he
has no choice but to part. Her heart broken,
Dido commits suicide by
stabbing herself upon a pyre with Aeneas's sword. Before dying, she
predicts eternal strife between Aeneas's people and hers; "rise up
from my bones, avenging spirit" (4.625, trans. Fitzgerald) is a
possible invocation to Hannibal. Looking back from the deck of his
Aeneas sees the smoke of Dido's funeral pyre and knows its
meaning only too clearly. Nevertheless, destiny calls, and the Trojan
fleet sails on to Italy.
Boxing scene from the
Aeneid (book 5), mosaic floor from a Gallo-Roman
Villelaure (France), ca. 175 AD,
Getty Villa (71.AH.106)
Book 5 takes place on
Sicily and centers on the funeral games that
Aeneas organizes for the anniversary of his father's death.
his men have left
Carthage for Sicily, where
celebratory games—a boat race, a foot race, a boxing match, and an
archery contest. In all those contests,
Aeneas is careful to reward
winners and losers, showing his leadership qualities by not allowing
antagonism even after foul play. Each of these contests comments on
past events or prefigures future events: the boxing match, for
instance, is "a preview of the final encounter of
Aeneas and Turnus",
and the dove, the target during the archery contest, is connected to
the deaths of Polites and King
Priam in Book 2 and that of Camilla in
Book 11. Afterwards,
Ascanius leads the boys in a military parade
and mock battle, a tradition he will teach the
Latins while building
the walls of Alba Longa.
During these events (in which only men participate), Juno incites the
womenfolk to burn the fleet and prevent the Trojans from ever reaching
Italy, but her plan is thwarted when
Aeneas prays to Jupiter to quench the fires, which the god does with a
torrential rainstorm. An anxious
Aeneas is comforted by a vision of
his father, who tells him to go to the underworld to receive a vision
of his and Rome's future. In return for safe passage to Italy, the
gods, by order of Jupiter, will receive one of Aeneas's men as a
sacrifice: Palinurus, who steers Aeneas's ship by night, falls
See also: The Golden Bough (mythology)
In Book 6, Aeneas, with the guidance of the Cumaean Sibyl, descends
into the underworld. They pass by crowds of the dead by the banks of
Acheron and are ferried across by Charon before passing by
Cerberus, the three-headed guardian of the underworld. Then
shown the fates of the wicked in
Tartarus and is warned by the Sibyl
to bow to the justice of the gods. He is then brought to green fields
of Elysium. There he speaks with the spirit of his father and is
offered a prophetic vision of the destiny of Rome.
War in Italy (books 7–12)
Roman bas-relief, 2nd century:
Aeneas lands in Latium, leading
Ascanius; the sow identifies the place to found his city (book 8).
Upon returning to the land of the living,
Aeneas leads the Trojans to
settle in Latium, where he courts Lavinia, the daughter of King
Aeneas wished to avoid a war, hostilities break out.
Juno is heavily involved in bringing about this war—she has
persuaded the Queen of
Latium to demand that
Lavinia be married to
Turnus, the ruler of a local people, the Rutuli. Juno continues to
stir up trouble, even summoning the fury
Alecto to ensure that a war
Seeing the masses of warriors that
Turnus has brought against him,
Aeneas seeks help from the Tuscans, enemies of the Rutuli. He meets
King Evander of Arcadia, whose son Pallas agrees to lead troops
against the other Italians. Meanwhile, in book 9, the Trojan camp is
attacked, and a midnight raid leads to the deaths of Nisus and his
companion, Euryalus. The gates, however, are defended until Aeneas
returns with his Tuscan and Arcadian reinforcements.
Aeneas's defeat of
Turnus (book 12), painting by Luca Giordano
In the battling that follows, many are slain—notably Pallas (a close
friend of Aeneas), who is killed by Turnus, and Mezentius, Turnus's
close associate. Mezentius, who has allowed his son to be killed while
he himself fled, reproaches himself and faces
Aeneas in single
combat—an honourable but essentially futile endeavour. In book 11,
another notable, Camilla, a sort of Amazon character, fights bravely
but is killed. She has been a virgin devoted to Diana and to her
nation; Arruns, the man who kills her, is struck dead by Diana's
Single combat is then proposed between
Aeneas and Turnus, but Aeneas
is so obviously superior to
Turnus that the Italians, urged on by
Turnus's divine sister, Juturna, break the truce.
Aeneas is injured,
but returns to the battle.
Aeneas dominate the battle on
opposite wings, but when
Aeneas makes a daring attack at the city of
Latium (causing the queen of
Latium to hang herself in despair), he
Turnus into single combat once more. Turnus's strength deserts
him as he tries to hurl a rock, and Aeneas's spear goes through his
Turnus is begging on his knees for his life, the epic ends
Aeneas first tempted to obey pleas to spare Turnus's life, but
killing him in rage when he sees that
Turnus is wearing his friend
Pallas's belt over a shoulder as a trophy.
Critics of the
Aeneid focus on a variety of issues. The tone of
the poem as a whole is a particular matter of debate; some see the
poem as ultimately pessimistic and politically subversive to the
Augustan regime, while others view it as a celebration of the new
Virgil makes use of the symbolism of the Augustan
regime, and some scholars see strong associations between
Aeneas, the one as founder and the other as re-founder of Rome. A
strong teleology, or drive towards a climax, has been detected in the
Aeneid is full of prophecies about the future of Rome, the
deeds of Augustus, his ancestors, and famous Romans, and the
Carthaginian Wars; the shield of
Aeneas even depicts Augustus' victory
at Actium in 31 BC. A further focus of study is the character of
Aeneas. As the protagonist of the poem,
Aeneas seems to constantly
waver between his emotions and commitment to his prophetic duty to
found Rome; critics note the breakdown of Aeneas's emotional control
in the last sections of the poem where the "pious" and "righteous"
Aeneas mercilessly slaughters the
Latin warrior Turnus.
Aeneid appears to have been a great success.
Virgil is said to
have recited Books 2, 4 and 6 to Augustus; the mention of her son,
Marcellus, in book 6 apparently caused Augustus' sister Octavia to
faint. The poem was unfinished when
Virgil died in 19 BC.
Virgil's death and editing
Virgil, holding a manuscript of the Aeneid, flanked by the muses Clio
Melpomene (tragedy). Roman mosaic, third century AD,
from Hadrumetum, now in the Bardo Museum, Tunis.
According to tradition,
Virgil traveled to Greece around 19 BC to
revise the Aeneid. After meeting
Augustus in Athens and deciding to
Virgil caught a fever while visiting a town near Megara.
Virgil crossed to Italy by ship, weakened with disease, and died in
Brundisium harbour on 21 September 19 BC, leaving a wish
that the manuscript of the
Aeneid was to be burned.
Virgil's literary executors,
Lucius Varius Rufus and Plotius Tucca, to
disregard that wish, instead ordering the
Aeneid to be published with
as few editorial changes as possible. As a result, the existing
text of the
Aeneid may contain faults which
Virgil was planning to
correct before publication. However, the only obvious imperfections
are a few lines of verse that are metrically unfinished (i.e., not a
complete line of dactylic hexameter). Other alleged "imperfections"
are subject to scholarly debate.
Folio 22 from the Vergilius Vaticanus—flight from Troy
Aeneid was written in a time of major political and social change
in Rome, with the fall of the Republic and the Final War of the Roman
Republic having torn through society and many Romans' faith in the
"Greatness of Rome" severely faltering. However, the new emperor,
Augustus Caesar, began to institute a new era of prosperity and peace,
specifically through the re-introduction of traditional Roman moral
Aeneid was seen as reflecting this aim, by depicting the
Aeneas as a man devoted and loyal to his country and its
prominence, rather than his own personal gains. In addition, the
Aeneid gives mythic legitimization to the rule of
Julius Caesar and,
by extension, to his adopted son Augustus, by immortalizing the
tradition that renamed Aeneas's son,
Ascanius (called Ilus from Ilium,
meaning Troy), Iulus, thus making him an ancestor of the gens Julia,
the family of Julius Caesar, and many other great imperial descendants
as part of the prophecy given to him in the Underworld. (The meter
shows that the name "Iulus" is pronounced as 3 syllables, not as
Despite the polished and complex nature of the
Aeneid (legend stating
Virgil wrote only three lines of the poem each day), the number
of half-complete lines and the abrupt ending are generally seen as
Virgil died before he could finish the work. Because
this poem was composed and preserved in writing rather than orally,
Aeneid is more complete than most classical epics. Furthermore, it
is possible to debate whether
Virgil intended to rewrite and add to
such lines. Some of them would be difficult to complete, and in some
instances, the brevity of a line increases its dramatic impact (some
arguing the violent ending as a typically Virgilian comment on the
darker, vengeful side of humanity). However, these arguments may be
anachronistic—half-finished lines might equally, to Roman readers,
have been a clear indication of an unfinished poem and have added
nothing whatsoever to the dramatic effect.
The perceived deficiency of any account of Aeneas's marriage to
Lavinia or his founding of the Roman race led some writers, such as
the 15th-century Italian poet
Maffeo Vegio (through his Mapheus Vegius
widely printed in the Renaissance), Pier Candido Decembrio (whose
attempt was never completed), Claudio Salvucci (in his 1994 epic poem
The Laviniad), and
Ursula K. Le Guin
Ursula K. Le Guin (in her 2008 novel Lavinia) to
compose their own supplements.
Some legends state that Virgil, fearing that he would die before he
had properly revised the poem, gave instructions to friends (including
the current emperor, Augustus) that the
Aeneid should be burned upon
his death, owing to its unfinished state and because he had come to
dislike one of the sequences in Book VIII, in which Venus and Vulcan
have sexual intercourse, for its nonconformity to Roman moral virtues.
The friends did not comply with Virgil's wishes and
ordered that they be disregarded. After minor modifications, the
Aeneid was published.
The first full and faithful rendering of the poem in an Anglic
language is the Scots translation by Gavin Douglas—his Eneados,
completed in 1513, which also included Maffeo Vegio's supplement. Even
in the 20th century,
Ezra Pound considered this still to be the best
Aeneid translation, praising the "richness and fervour" of its
language and its hallmark fidelity to the original. The
English translation by the 17th-century poet
John Dryden is another
important version. Most classic translations, including both Douglas
and Dryden, employed a rhyme scheme, a very non-Roman convention that
is not usually followed in modern versions.
Recent English verse translations include those by British Poet
Cecil Day-Lewis (1963) which strove to render Virgil's
original hexameter line,
Allen Mandelbaum (honoured by a 1973 National
Book Award), Library of Congress
Poet Laureate Robert Fitzgerald
Stanley Lombardo (2005),
Robert Fagles (2006), Sarah Ruden
Barry B. Powell (2015).
As with other classical
Latin poetry, the meter is based on the length
of syllables rather than the stress, though the interplay of meter and
stress is also important.
Virgil also incorporated such poetic devices
as alliteration, onomatopoeia, synecdoche, and assonance. Furthermore,
he uses personification, metaphor and simile in his work, usually to
add drama and tension to the scene. An example of a simile can be
found in book II when
Aeneas is compared to a shepherd who stood on
the high top of a rock unaware of what is going on around him. It
can be seen that just as the shepherd is a protector of his sheep, so
Aeneas to his people.
As was the rule in classical antiquity, an author's style was seen as
an expression of his personality and character. Virgil's
been praised for its evenness, subtlety and dignity.
The Aeneid, like other classical epics, is written in dactylic
hexameters: each line consists of six metrical feet made up of dactyls
(one long syllable followed by two short syllables) and spondees (two
long syllables). This epic consists of twelve books, and the narrative
is broken up into three sections of four books each, respectively
addressing Dido; the Trojans' arrival in Italy; and the war with the
Latins. Each book has about 1000 lines. The
Aeneid comes to an abrupt
ending, and scholars have speculated that
Virgil died before he could
finish the poem.
The Roman ideal of pietas ("piety, dutiful respect"), which can be
loosely translated from the
Latin as a selfless sense of duty toward
one's filial, religious, and societal obligations, was a crux of
ancient Roman morality. Throughout the Aeneid,
Aeneas serves as the
embodiment of pietas, with the phrase "pious Aeneas" occurring 20
times throughout the poem, thereby fulfilling his capacity as the
father of the Roman people. For instance, in Book 2 Aeneas
describes how he carried his father
Anchises from the burning city of
Troy: "No help/ Or hope of help existed./ So I resigned myself, picked
up my father,/ And turned my face toward the mountain range."
Aeneas ventures into the underworld, thereby fulfilling
Anchises' wishes. His father's gratitude is presented in the text by
the following lines: "Have you at last come, has that loyalty/ Your
father counted on conquered the journey? 
However, Aeneas's pietas extends beyond his devotion to his father: we
also see several examples of his religious fervour.
consistently subservient to the gods, even in actions opposed to his
own desires, as he responds to one such divine command, "I sail to
Italy not of my own free will."
In addition to his religious and familial pietas,
Aeneas also displays
fervent patriotism and devotion to his people, particularly in a
military capacity. For instance, as he and his followers leave Troy,
Aeneas swears that he will "take up/ The combat once again. We shall
not all/ Die this day unavenged."
Aeneas is a symbol of pietas in all of its forms, serving as a moral
paragon to whom a Roman should aspire.
One of the most recurring themes in the
Aeneid is that of divine
intervention. Throughout the poem, the gods are constantly
influencing the main characters and trying to change and impact the
outcome, regardless of the fate that they all know will occur. For
example, Juno comes down and acts as a phantom
Aeneas to drive Turnus
away from the real
Aeneas and all of his rage from the death of
Pallas. Even though Juno knows in the end that
Aeneas will triumph
over Turnus, she does all she can to delay and avoid this outcome.
Divine intervention occurs multiple times in Book 4 especially. Aeneas
falls in love with Dido, delaying his ultimate fate of traveling to
Italy. However, it is actually the gods who inspired the love, as Juno
Dido and the Trojan captain [will come]
To one same cavern. I shall be on hand,
And if I can be certain you are willing,
There I shall marry them and call her his.
A wedding, this will be.
Juno is speaking to Venus, making an agreement and influencing the
lives and emotions of both
Dido and Aeneas. Later in the same book,
Jupiter steps in and restores what is the true fate and path for
Aeneas, sending Mercury down to Aeneas's dreams, telling him that he
must travel to Italy and leave his new-found lover. As
pleads with Dido:
The gods' interpreter, sent by Jove himself--
I swear it by your head and mine-- has brought
Commands down through the racing winds!...
I sail for Italy not of my own free will.
Several of the gods try to intervene against the powers of fate, even
though they know what the eventual outcome will be. The interventions
are really just distractions to continue the conflict and postpone the
inevitable. If the gods represent humans, just as the human characters
engage in conflicts and power struggles, so too do the gods.
Fate, described as a preordained destiny that men and gods have to
follow, is a major theme in the Aeneid. One example is when
reminded of his fate through Jupiter and Mercury while he is falling
in love with Dido. Mercury urges, "Think of your expectations of your
heir,/ Iulus, to whom the whole Italian realm, the land/ Of Rome, are
due." Mercury is referring to Aeneas's preordained fate to found
Rome, as well as Rome's preordained fate to rule the world:
He was to be ruler of Italy,
Potential empire, armorer of war;
To father men from Teucer's noble blood
And bring the whole world under law's dominion.
It is important to recognize that there is a marked difference between
fate and divine intervention, as even though the gods might remind
mortals of their eventual fate, the gods themselves are not in control
of it. For example, the opening lines of the poem specify that
Aeneas "came to Italy by destiny," but is also harassed by the
separate force of "baleful Juno in her sleepless rage." 
Even though Juno might intervene, Aeneas's fate is set in stone and
cannot be changed.
Later in Book 6 when
Aeneas visits the underworld, his father Anchises
introduces him to the larger fate of the Roman people, as contrasted
against his own personal fate to found Rome:
So raptly, everywhere, father and son
Wandered the airy plain and viewed it all.
Anchises had conducted him
To every region and had fired his love
Of glory in the years to come, he spoke
Of wars that he might fight, of Laurentines,
And of Latinus' city, then of how
He might avoid or bear each toil to come.
Violence and conflict
From the very beginning of the Aeneid, violence and conflict are used
as a means of survival and conquest. Aeneas's voyage is caused by the
Trojan War and the destruction of Troy.
Aeneas describes to Dido
in Book 2 the massive amount of destruction that occurs after the
Greeks sneak into Troy. He recalls that he asks his men to "defend/ A
city lost in flames. Come, let us die,/ We'll make a rush into the
thick of it." This is one of the first examples of how violence
begets violence: even though the Trojans know they have lost the
battle, they continue to fight for their country.
This violence continues as
Aeneas makes his journey.
herself in an excessively violent way over a pyre in order to end and
escape her worldly problem: being heartbroken over the departure of
her "husband" Aeneas. Queen Dido's suicide is a double edged sword.
While releasing herself from the burden of her pain through violence,
her last words implore her people to view Aeneas's people with hate
for all eternity:
This is my last cry, as my last blood flows.
Then, O my Tyrians, besiege with hate
His progeny and all his race to come:
Make this your offering to my dust. No love,
No pact must be between our peoples.
Furthermore, her people, hearing of their queen's death, have only one
avenue on which to direct the blame: the already-departed Trojans.
Thus, Dido's request of her people and her people's only recourse for
closure align in their mutual hate for
Aeneas and his Trojans. In
effect, Dido's violent suicide leads to the violent nature of the
later relationship between
Carthage and Rome.
Aeneas arrives in Latium, conflict inevitably
arises. Juno sends Alecto, one of the Furies, to cause
go against Aeneas. In the ensuing battles,
Turnus kills Pallas, who is
supposed to be under Aeneas's protection. This act of violence causes
Aeneas to be consumed with fury. Although
Turnus asks for mercy in
their final encounter, when
Aeneas sees that
Turnus has taken Pallas'
You in your plunder, torn from one of mine,
Shall I be robbed of you? This wound will come
From Pallas: Pallas makes this offering
And from your criminal blood exacts his due.
This final act of violence shows how Turnus' violence—the act of
killing Pallas—inevitably leads to more violence and his own death.
It is possible that the recurring theme of violence in the
Aeneid is a
subtle commentary on the bloody violence contemporary readers would
have just experienced during the Late Republican civil wars. The
Aeneid potentially explores whether the violence of the civil wars was
necessary to establish a lasting peace under Augustus, or whether it
would just lead to more violence in the future.
Main article: Political commentary of the Aeneid
Written during the reign of Augustus, the
Aeneid presents the hero
Aeneas as a strong and powerful leader. The favorable representation
Augustus in that it portrays his reign in a
progressive and admirable light, and allows
Augustus to be positively
associated with the portrayal of Aeneas. Although Virgil's patron
Maecenas was obviously not
Augustus himself, he was still a high
figure within Augustus' administration and could have personally
benefitted from representing
Aeneas in a positive light.
In the Aeneid,
Aeneas is portrayed as the singular hope for the
rebirth of the Trojan people. Charged with the preservation of his
people by divine authority,
Aeneas is symbolic of Augustus' own
accomplishments in establishing order after the long period of chaos
of the Roman civil wars.
Augustus as the light of savior and the last
hope of the Roman people is a parallel to
Aeneas as the savior of the
Trojans. This parallel functions as propaganda in support of
Augustus, as it depicts the Trojan people, future Romans
themselves, as uniting behind a single leader who will lead them out
New refugees in a great crowd: men and women
Gathered for exile, young-pitiful people
Coming from every quarter, minds made up,
With their belongings, for whatever lands
I'd lead them to by sea.
Later in Book 6,
Aeneas travels to the underworld where he sees his
father Anchises, who tells him of his own destiny as well as that of
the Roman people.
Anchises describes how Aeneas's descendant Romulus
will found the great city of Rome, which will eventually be ruled by
Turn your two eyes
This way and see this people, your own Romans.
Here is Caesar, and all the line of Iulus,
All who shall one day pass under the dome
Of the great sky: this is the man, this one,
Of whom so often you have heard the promise,
Caesar Augustus, son of the deified,
Who shall bring once again an Age of Gold
To Latium, to the land where Saturn reigned
In early times.
Virgil writes about the fated future of Lavinium, the city that Aeneas
will found, which will in turn lead directly to the golden reign of
Virgil is using a form of literary propaganda to demonstrate
the Augustan regime's destiny to bring glory and peace to Rome. Rather
Aeneas indirectly as a positive parallel to
Augustus as in
other parts of the poem,
Virgil outright praises the emperor in Book
6, referring to
Augustus as a harbinger for the glory of Rome and new
levels of prosperity.
The poem abounds with smaller and greater allegories. Two of the
debated allegorical sections pertain to the exit from the underworld
and to Pallas's belt.
There are two gates of Sleep, one said to be of horn, whereby the true
shades pass with ease, the other all white ivory agleam without a
flaw, and yet false dreams are sent through this one by the ghost to
the upper world.
Anchises now, his last instructions given, took son
Sibyl and let them go by the Ivory Gate.
—Book VI, lines 1211–1218, Fitzgerald trans. (emphasis added)
Aeneas's leaving the underworld through the gate of false dreams has
been variously interpreted: One suggestion is that the passage simply
refers to the time of day at which
Aeneas returned to the world of the
living; another is that it implies that all of Aeneas's actions in the
remainder of the poem are somehow "false". In an extension of the
latter interpretation, it has been suggested that
Virgil is conveying
that the history of the world since the foundation of Rome is but a
lie. Other scholars claim that
Virgil is establishing that the
theological implications of the preceding scene (an apparent system of
reincarnation) are not to be taken as literal.
The second section in question is
Then to his glance appeared the accurst swordbelt surmounting Turnus'
shoulder, shining with its familiar studs—the strap Young Pallas
Turnus wounded him and left him dead upon the field; now
Turnus bore that enemy token on his shoulder—enemy still. For when
the sight came home to him,
Aeneas raged at the relic of his anguish
worn by this man as trophy. Blazing up and terrible in his anger, he
called out: "You in your plunder, torn from one of mine, shall I be
robbed of you? This wound will come from Pallas: Pallas makes this
offering, and from your criminal blood exacts his due." He sank his
blade in fury in Turnus' chest ...
—Book XII, lines 1281–1295, Fitzgerald trans. (emphasis added)
This section has been interpreted to mean that for the entire passage
of the poem,
Aeneas who symbolizes pietas (reason) in a moment becomes
furor (fury), thus destroying what is essentially the primary theme of
the poem itself. Many have argued over these two sections. Some claim
Virgil meant to change them before he died, while others find
that the location of the two passages, at the very end of the
so-called Volume I (Books 1–6, the Odyssey), and Volume II (Books
7–12, the Iliad), and their short length, which contrasts with the
lengthy nature of the poem, are evidence that
Virgil placed them
Virgil Reading the
Augustus and Octavia, by Jean-Joseph
Taillasson, 1787, an early neoclassical painting (National Gallery,
Aeneid is a cornerstone of the Western canon, and early (at least
by the 2nd century AD) became one of the essential elements of a Latin
education, usually required to be memorized. Even after the
decline of the Roman Empire, it "remained central to a Latin
education". In Latin-Christian culture, the
Aeneid was one of the
canonical texts, subjected to commentary as a philological and
educational study, with the most complete commentary having been
written by the 4th-century grammarian Maurus
Servius Honoratus. It
was widely held to be the pinnacle of
Latin literature, much in the
same way that the
Iliad was seen to be supreme in Greek literature.
The strong influence of the
Aeneid has been identified in the
development of European vernacular literatures—some English works
that show its influence being Beowulf,
Layamon's Brut (through the
source text Historia Regum Britanniae), The Faerie Queene, and
Milton's Paradise Lost. The Italian poet
Dante Alighieri was himself
profoundly influenced by the Aeneid, so much so that his magnum opus
The Divine Comedy, itself widely considered central to the western
canon, includes a number of quotations from and allusions to the
Aeneid and features the author
Virgil as a major character – the
guide of Dante through the realms of the Inferno and Purgatorio.
Another continental work displaying the influence of the
Aeneid is the
16th-century Portuguese epic Os Lusíadas, written by Luís Vaz de
Camões and dealing with Vasco de Gama's voyage to India.
The importance of
Latin education itself was paramount in Western
culture: "from 1600 to 1900, the
Latin school was at the center of
European education, wherever it was found"; within that
Virgil was taught at the advanced level and, in 19th-century England,
special editions of
Virgil were awarded to students who distinguished
themselves. In the United States,
Virgil and specifically the
Aeneid were taught in the fourth year of a
Latin sequence, at least
until the 1960s; the current (2011)
Advanced Placement curriculum
Latin continues to assign a central position to the poem: "The AP
Virgil Exam is designed to test the student's ability to read,
translate, understand, analyze, and interpret the lines of the Aeneid
that appear on the course syllabus in Latin."
Many phrases from this poem entered the
Latin language, much as
passages from Shakespeare and
Alexander Pope have entered the English
language. One example is from Aeneas's reaction to a painting of the
sack of Troy: Sunt lacrimae rerum et mentem mortalia tangunt—"These
are the tears of things, and our mortality cuts to the heart" (Aeneid
I, 462). The influence is also visible in very modern work: Brian
Translations (a play written in the 1980s, set in 19th century
Ireland), makes references to the classics throughout and ends with a
passage from the Aeneid:
Urbs antiqua fuit—there was an ancient city which, 'tis said, Juno
loved above all the lands. And it was the goddess's aim and cherished
hope that here should be the capital of all nations—should the fates
perchance allow that. Yet in truth she discovered that a race was
springing from Trojan blood to overthrow some day these Tyrian
towers—a people late regem belloque superbum—kings of broad realms
and proud in war who would come forth for Libya's downfall.
Aeneid was the basis for the 1962 Italian film The Avenger.
In the musical Spring Awakening, based on the play of the same title
by Frank Wedekind, schoolboys study the
Latin text, and the first
verse of Book 1 is incorporated into the number "All That's Known".
Ursula Le Guin's 2008 novel
Lavinia is a free prose retelling of the
last six books of the
Aeneid narrated by and centered on Aeneas' Latin
wife Lavinia, a minor character in the epic poem. It carries the
action forward to the crowning of Aeneas' grandson Silvius as king of
A seventeenth century popular broadside ballad also appears to recount
events from books 1–4 of the Aeneid, focusing mostly on the
Aeneas and Dido. The ballad, "The Wandering
Prince of Troy", presents many similar elements as Virgil's epic, but
alters Dido's final sentiments toward Aeneas, as well as presents an
interesting end for
Parodies and travesties
A number of parodies and travesties of the
Aeneid have been made.
One of the earliest was written in Italian by Giovanni Batista Lalli
in 1635, titled L'Eneide travestita del Signor Gio.
A French parody by
Paul Scarron became famous in France in the
mid-17th century, and spread rapidly through Europe, accompanying the
growing French influence. Its influence was especially strong in
Charles Cotton's work Scarronides included a travestied Aeneid.
In 1791 the Russian poet
N. P. Osipov
N. P. Osipov published Eneida
travestied (ru) (Russian: Вирги́лиева Энеи́да,
вы́вороченная наизна́нку, lit. 'Vergil's
Aeneid, turned inside out').
From the late 18th to the early 19th centuries, many Slavic language
folk parodies of the story were made. One of these, Енеїда
(Eneyida), was written in 1798 by Ivan Kotlyarevsky. It is the first
literary work written in popular Ukrainian. His epic poem was
adapted into an animated feature film of the same name, in 1991, by
Brutus of Troy
Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 31
^ Magill, Frank N. (2003). The Ancient World: Dictionary of World
Biography, Volume 1. Routledge. p. 226.
^ Gaskell, Philip (1999). Landmarks in Classical Literature. Chicago:
Fitzroy Dearborn. p. 161. ISBN 1-57958-192-7.
^ "History of
Latin Literature". HistoryWorld. Retrieved December 5,
^ Aloy, Daniel (May 22, 2008). "New translation of 'Aeneid' restores
Virgil's wordplay and original meter". Cornell Chronicle. Retrieved
December 5, 2016.
^ Damen, Mark (2004). "Chapter 11: Vergil and The Aeneid". Retrieved
December 5, 2016.
^ Gill, N. S. "Why Read the
Aeneid in Latin?". About.com. Retrieved
December 5, 2016.
^ E.G. Knauer, "Vergil's
Aeneid and Homer", Greek, Roman, and
Byzantine Studies 5 (1964) 61–84. Originating in Servius's
^ The majority of the
Odyssey is devoted to events on Ithaca, not to
Odysseus' wanderings, so that the second half of the
broadly corresponds to the second half of the
Aeneid (the hero fights
to establish himself in his new/renewed home). Joseph Farrell has
observed, "... let us begin with the traditional view that
Virgil's epic divides into 'Odyssean' and 'Iliadic' halves. Merely
accepting this idea at face value is to mistake for a destination what
Virgil clearly offered as the starting-point of a long and wondrous
journey" ("The Virgilian Intertext", Cambridge Companion to Virgil, p.
^ Publius Vergilius Maro (2006). The Aeneid, translated by Robert
Fagles, introduction by Bernard Knox (deluxe ed.). New York, New York
10014, U.S.A.: Viking Penguin. p. 26.
^ Glazewski, Johanna (1972). "The Function of Vergil's Funeral Games".
The Classical World. 66 (2): 85–96. doi:10.2307/4347751.
^ Fowler, "Virgil", in Hornblower and Spawnforth (eds), Oxford
Classical Dictionary, 3rd edition, 1996, pp. 1605–06
^ Fowler, pg.1603
^ Sellar, William Young; Glover, Terrot Reaveley (1911). "Virgil".
Encyclopædia Britannica. 28 (11th ed.). p. 112. Retrieved 7 June
^ Pound and Spann; Confucius to Cummings: An Anthology of Poetry, New
Directions, p. 34.
^ See Emily Wilson Passions and a Man Archived 14 September 2008 at
the Wayback Machine., New Republic Online (11 January 2007), which
cites Pound's claim that the translation even improved on the Virgil
because Douglas had "heard the sea".
Aeneid II". Poetryintranslation.com. Retrieved 27 November
^ Fitzgerald 1990, 416–17.
^ Search of the
Latin from perseus.tufts.edu
^ Hahn, E. Adelaide. "
Pietas versus Violentia in the Aeneid." The
Classical Weekly, 25.2 (1931): 9–13.
^ Fitzgerald 1983, 2.1043–1047.
^ Fitzgerald 1983, 6.921–923.
^ Fitzgerald 1983, 4.499.
^ McLeish, Kenneth. "Dido, Aeneas, and the Concept of 'Pietas'."
Greece and Rome 19.2 (1972): 127–135.
^ Fitzgerald 1983, 2.874–876.
^ Coleman, Robert. "The Gods in the Aeneid." Greece and Rome 29.2 (Oct
1982): 143–168; also see Block, E. "The Effects of Divine
Manifestation on the Reader's Perspective in Vergil's Aeneid." (Salem,
^ Duckworth, George E. "
Fate and Free Will in Vergil's "Aeneid"". The
Classical Journal 51.8 (1956): 357–364.
^ Fitzgerald 1983, 10.890–966.
^ Fitzgerald 1983, 4.173–177.
^ Fitzgerald 1983, 4.492–499.
^ Fitzgerald 1983, 4.373–375.
^ Fitzgerald 1983, 4.312–315.
^ Fitzgerald, Robert, translator and postscript. "Virgil's The
Aeneid". New York: Vintage Books (1990). 415.
^ Fitzgerald 1983, 1.3–8.
^ Fitzgerald 1983, 6.1203–1210.
^ Scully, Stephen. "Refining Fire in "Aeneid" 8." Vergilius (1959–)
46 (2000): 93–113.
^ Fitzgerald 1983, 4.469–471.
^ Fitzgerald 1983, 4.864–868.
^ Fitzgerald, Robert, translator and postscript. "Virgil's The
Aeneid". New York: Vintage Books (1990). 407.
^ Hahn, E. Adelaide. "
Pietas versus Violentia in the Aeneid." The
Classical Weekly, 25.2 (1931): 9.
^ Fitzgerald 1983, 12.1291–1294.
^ Pogorselski, Randall J. "The "Reassurance of Fratricide" in The
Aeneid." The American Journal of Philology 130.2 (Summer 2009):
^ Fitzgerald, Robert, translator and postscript. "Virgil's The
Aeneid". New York: Vintage Books (1990). 412–414.
^ Grebe, Sabine. "Augustus' Divine Authority and Virgil's Aeneid."
Vergilius (1959–) 50 (2004): 35–62.
^ Scully, Stephen. "Refining Fire in
Aeneid 8." Vergilius (1959–) 46
^ Fitzgerald 1983, 2.1036–1040.
^ Fitzgerald 1983, 6.1058–1067.
^ Trans. David West, "The Aeneid" (1991) xxiii.
^ The anecdote, in which the poet read the passage in Book VI in
praise of Octavia's late son Marcellus, and Octavia fainted with
grief, was recorded in the late fourth-century vita of
^ Kleinberg, Aviad M. (2008). Flesh Made Word: Saints' Stories and the
Western Imagination. Harvard UP. p. 68.
^ Montaner, Carlos Alberto (2003). Twisted Roots:
Living Past. Algora. p. 118. ISBN 978-0-87586-260-6.
^ Horsfall, Nicholas (2000). A Companion to the Study of Virgil.
Brill. p. 303. ISBN 978-90-04-11951-2.
^ Burman, Thomas E. (2009). Reading the Qur'ān in
1140–1560. U of Pennsylvania P. p. 84.
^ Savage, John J.H. (1932). "The Manuscripts of the Commentary of
Servius Danielis on Virgil". Harvard Studies in Classical Philology.
43: 77–121. JSTOR 310668.
^ Grafton, Anthony; Most, Glenn W.; Settis, Salvatore (2010). The
Classical Tradition. Harvard UP. pp. 294–97.
^ Skinner, Marilyn B. (2010). A Companion to Catullus. John Wiley.
pp. 448â??49. ISBN 978-1-4443-3925-3.
^ "Latin : Virgil; Course Description" (PDF). College Board.
2011. p. 14. Retrieved 30 August 2011.
^ McGrath, F. C. (1990). "
Brian Friel and the Politics of the
Anglo-Irish Language". Colby Quarterly. 26 (4): 247.
Ballad Full Text at the English Broadside
^  Archived 14 April 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
^ "The Aeneid". V.I. Vernadsky National Library of Ukraine. World
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^ "Russian animation in letters and figures Films ╚ENEIDA╩".
Animator.ru. Retrieved 27 November 2012.
Library resources about
Resources in your library
Resources in other libraries
Buckham, Philip Wentworth; Spence, Joseph; Holdsworth, Edward;
Warburton, William; Jortin, John, Miscellanea Virgiliana: In Scriptis
Maxime Eruditorum Virorum Varie Dispersa, in Unum Fasciculum Collecta,
Cambridge: Printed for W. P. Grant; 1825.
Maronis, P. Vergili (1969), Mynors, R.A.B., ed., Opera, Oxford: Oxford
University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-814653-7
Virgil (2001), Fairclough, H.R.; Goold, G.P., eds., Eclogues,
Aeneid 1–6, Loeb Classical Library, Cambridge,
Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, ISBN 0-674-99583-X
Virgil (2001), Fairclough, H.R.; Goold, G.P., eds.,
7–12, Appendix Vergiliana, Loeb Classical Library, Cambridge,
Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, ISBN 0-674-99586-4
Virgil; Ahl, Frederick (trans.) (2007), The Aeneid, Oxford: Oxford
University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-283206-1
Virgil; Fitzgerald, Robert (trans.) (1983), The Aeneid, New York:
Random House, ISBN 978-0-394-52827-4 Paperback reprint:
Vintage Books, 1990.
Aeneid (Landmarks of World Literature (Revival)) by K. W.
Gransden ISBN 0-521-83213-6
Virgil's 'Aeneid': Cosmos and Imperium by Philip R. Hardie
Heinze, Richard (1993), Virgil's Epic Technique, Berkeley: University
of California Press, ISBN 0-520-06444-5
Johnson, W.R. (1979), Darkness Visible: A Study of Vergil's Aeneid,
Berkeley: University of California Press,
Brooks Otis, Virgil: A Study in Civilized Poetry, Oxford, 1964
Lee Fratantuono, Madness Unchained: A Reading of Virgil's Aeneid,
Lexington Books, 2007.
Joseph Reed, Virgil's Gaze, Princeton, 2007.
Kenneth Quinn, Virgil's Aeneid: A Critical Description, London, 1968.
Francis Cairns, Virgil's Augustan Epic, Cambridge, 1989.
Gian Biagio Conte, The Poetry of Pathos: Studies in Vergilian Epic,
Karl Gransden, Virgil's Iliad, Cambridge, 1984.
Richard Jenkyns, Virgil's Experience, Oxford, 1998.
Michael Burden, A woman scorned; responses to the
Dido myth, London,
Faber and Faber, 1998, especially Andrew Pinnock, 'Book IV in plain
brown paper wrappers', on the
Aeneas und Vergil. Untersuchungen zur poetologischen
Dimension der Aeneis, Heidelberg 2003.
Eve Adler, Vergil's Empire, Rowman and Littlefield, 2003.
Nurtantio, Yoneko (2014), Le silence dans l'Énéide, Brussels: EME
& InterCommunications, ISBN 978-2-8066-2928-9
Wikisource has original text related to this article:
Wikiquote has quotations related to: Aeneid
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Aeneid.
Aeneid in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
Perseus Project A.1.1 –
Latin text, Dryden translation, and T.C.
Williams translation (from the Perseus Project)
John Dryden translation (1697)
Gutenberg Project: J. W. Mackail translation (1885)
Gutenberg Project: E. F. Taylor translation (1907)
Fairclough's Loeb Translation (1916) Theoi.com (Books 1–6 only)
The Online Library of Liberty Project from Liberty Fund, Inc.: The
Aeneid (Dryden translation, New York: P.F. Collier and Son, 1909) (PDF
Aeneid public domain audiobook at LibriVox
Aeneidos Libri XII
Latin text by Publius Vergilius Maro, PDF format
Menu Page The
Aeneid in several formats at Project Gutenberg
Latin Text Online
The Thirteenth Book of the Aeneid: a fragment by Pier Candido
Decembrio, translated by David Wilson-Okamura
Supplement to the twelfth book of the
Maffeo Vegio at Latin
text and English translation
Warburg Institute Iconographic Database (about 900 images related to
Commentary on selections from the
Latin text at Dickinson College
Four talks by scholars on aspects of the
Aeneid (including Virgil's
relationship to Roman history, the Rome of Caesar Augustus, the
challenges of translating
Latin poetry, and Purcell's opera
Aeneas), delivered at the Maine Humanities Council's Winter Weekend
Notes on the political context of the Aeneid.
Servius Honoratus. Commentary on the
Aeneid on In Our Time at the BBC.
Aeneid (19 BC)
Ajax the Lesser
Evander of Pallene
Nisus and Euryalus
Pygmalion of Tyre
The Avenger (1962)
Roman d'Enéas (1160 poem)
Dido, Queen of
Carthage (c. 1593 play)
Amelia (1751 novel)
The Dunciad (1729 novel)
Lavinia (2008 novel)
Didone (1641 Cavalli)
Achille et Polyxène
Achille et Polyxène (1687 Lully/Collasse)
Aeneas (1688 Purcell)
Didon (1693 Desmarets)
Didone abbandonata (1724 libretto Metastasio)
Didone abbandonata (1724 Sarro)
Didone abbandonata (1724 Albinoni)
Didone abbandonata (1726 Vinci)
Didone abbandonata (1762 Sarti)
Didon (1783 Piccinni)
Dido, Queen of
Carthage (1792 Storace)
Les Troyens (1858 Berlioz)
Book of Ballymote
Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 31
Obscuris vera involvens
Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes
Laocoön and His Sons (25 BC)
Aeneas, Anchises, and
Ascanius Shooting the Stag of Sylvia (1689)
"And Then There Was Silence"
Gates of Fire
The Golden Bough
"Fortune favours the bold"
"Mind over matter"
Works by Virgil
Eclogues (Eclogue 4)
Ancient Roman religion and mythology
Castor and Pollux
Romulus and Remus
Lucius Tarquinius Priscus
Lucius Tarquinius Superbus
The Golden Ass
Concepts and practices
Religion in ancient Rome
Glossary of ancient Roman religion
Myth and ritual
Conversion to Christianity
Dido and Aeneas" from Virgil's Aeneid
Didone (1641, Cavalli)
Aeneas (1688, Purcell)
Didon (1693, Desmarets)
Didone abbandonata (1724, Metastasio)
Didone abbandonata (1724, Sarro)
Didone abbandonata (1724, Albinoni)
Didone abbandonata (1762, Sarti)
Didon (1783, Piccinni)
Dido, Queen of
Carthage (1792, Storace)
Les Troyens (1863, Berlioz)
Dido, Queen of
Carthage (c. 1593)
Roman d'Enéas (1160)
Dido building Carthage
Low Ham Roman Villa