Compiled by Michael J. Cummings...ę
Revised and Enlarged in 2009
Type of Work and Years of Composition
Aeneid is an epic, a long
narrative poem in a lofty style about the exploits
of a hero. In The Aeneid, that hero is
Aeneas, a Trojan destined to found a new
civilization in Italy. The work contains twelve
books, which are actually long chapters. Virgil
(alternate name: Vergil) wrote The Aeneid
between 30 and 19 BC. The language of the epic is
Latin, spoken in the Roman Empire during Virgil's
day and later.
Aeneid: uh NE id
Aeneas: uh NE ihs
In the ancient Mediterranean
world, feminine beauty reaches its zenith in
Helen, wife of King Menelaus of Greece. Her
wondrous face and body are without flaw. She is
perfect. Even the goddess of love, Aphrodite,
admires her. When Aphrodite competes with other
goddesses in a beauty contest—in which a golden apple is to be
awarded as the prize—she
bribes the judge, a young Trojan named Paris,
promising him Helen in exchange for his vote.
After Paris selects Aphrodite, the goddess directs
him to the household of Menelaus, where he woos
Helen, and absconds with her to Troy, a walled
city in Asia Minor (in present-day Turkey).
The elopement is an
affront to all the Greeks. How dare an upstart
Trojan steal the wife of one of their kings! Which
Greek family would be next to fall victim to a
Trojan machination? Infuriated, King Menelaus and
his friends assemble a mighty army that includes
the finest warriors in the land. Together, they
cross the sea in one thousand ships to make war
against Troy and win back their pride—and Helen. After ten years of
battle, the Greeks present the Trojans a gift of a
gigantic wooden horse, pretending that they have
given up the war and are returning to Greece.
Although the prophetess Cassandra and the prophet
against accepting the gift, the Trojans pull it
into the city. At night, Greek warriors concealed
in the belly of the horse drop down through a trap
door and open the gates of Troy. The Greeks pour
in, slaughter most of the Trojans, and lay waste
the city. Aeneas, the main character of The
Aeneid, escapes with his father and son
after his wife dies in the burning city. The
Aeneid picks up the story of Aeneas, who has
been prophesied to found a new civilization.
is the Twelfth Century, BC. The action takes place
in lands in the Mediterranean region, including Troy
(in flashback), Carthage, Sicily, Italy, and various
islands. Troy was in northern
Anatolia, a region in Asia Minor that is part of
modern-day Turkey. Anatolia is east of Greece
(across the Aegean Sea) and north of Egypt (across
the Mediterranean Sea). Carthage was on the
northern coast of Africa in present-day Tunisia. In
the language of the Phoenicians, who founded
Carthage, the city was Kart-hadasht, meaning
New Town. Sicily, an island off the
southwestern coast of Italy, is about 100 miles
northeast of Tunisia. In the concluding episodes of
The Aeneid, most of the action takes place in
Latium, a region in west-central Italy through which
flows the Tiber River. Its inhabitants were known as
One episode in The Aeneid takes
place in the Underworld, the residence of the souls
of the dead in the afterlife. This place is called
Hades (also referred to as Dis and Orcus). The
lowest section of the Underworld, reserved for the
wicked, is Tartarus. The Underworld also contains a
kind of heaven called Elysium. There, Aeneas meets
the soul of his father, Anchises.
mainly imitates the lofty tone and style of Homer’s
great epics—The Iliad and The Odyssey,
in particular the latter—and incorporates some of
their content. Like Odysseus (Roman name, Ulysses)
in The Odyssey, Aeneas wanders the
Mediterranean after the Trojan War, encountering
perils and diversions. But he never loses sight of
his ultimate goal. Like Odysseus, he has a love
affair, visits the Underworld, retells parts of his
adventures in flashback, and faces one last fight
upon reaching his destination.
Virgil also borrows freely from Annales,
an epic poem by Quintus Ennius (239-169 BC) that
recounts the Aeneas legend. In addition, he draws to
a limited extent upon the style and content of Argonautica,
by Apollonius of Rhodes (295-215 BC), which tells
the story of Jason’s quest for the Golden Fleece and
his love affair with Medea.
Aeneid Virgil uses the verse form Quintus
Ennius (239-169 BC) introduced, dactylic hexameter. In
Latin, this form contains six metrical feet that
each consist of one accented syllable followed by
two unaccented syllables.
Invocation of the Muse
opens The Aeneid by asking a muse to inspire
his writing. In ancient Greece and Rome, a poet
always requested a muse to fire him with creative
genius when he began an epic about godlike heroes
and villains. In Greek Roman mythology, there were
nine muses, all sisters, who were believed to
inspire poets, historians, flutists, dancers,
singers, astronomers, philosophers, and other
thinkers and artists. If one wanted to write a great
poem, play a musical instrument with bravado, or
develop a grand scientific or philosophical theory,
he would ask for help from a muse.
When a writer asked for
help, he was said to be “invoking the muse.” The
muse of epic poetry was named Calliope [kuh LY uh
pe]. Following is the invocation that begins The
Aeneid. In it, the author says he "sings
[writes about] of arms [battle, conflict] and the
man [the Trojan hero Aeneas]," who fled Troy and
went on a long and perilous journey to Italy to
found a new city. Throughout his journey, the queen
of the gods, Juno—an unremitting enemy of the
Trojans—harried Aeneas. The author then asks the
muse to reveal to him the necessary information to
write a successful story.
I sing of arms and
the man, he who, exiled by fate,
first came from the coast of Troy to
Italy, and to
Lavinian shores—hurled about endlessly by land and
by the will of the gods, by cruel Juno’s
long suffering also in war, until he
founded a city
and brought his gods to Latium: from
that the Latin people
came, the lords of Alba Longa, the walls
of noble Rome.
Muse, tell me the cause: how was she
offended in her divinity,
how was she grieved, the Queen of
Heaven, to drive a man,
noted for virtue, to endure such
dangers, to face so many
trials? Can there be such anger in the
minds of the gods?
tells the story in third-person point of view,
although he uses the pronoun I at the
beginning of the narrative when he invokes the muse.
From time to time, Virgil narrates through Aeneas,
speaking in first-person point of view, as in Books
II and III. The tone is generally dignified, as
befitting an epic.
By Michael J. Cummings...ę
2003 and 2009
The Escape From Troy
falls to the marauding Greeks, Aeneas rescues his
father and son but loses his wife, Creusa, in the
burning city. She dies. After escaping to nearby
Phrygia, Aeneas rounds up other Trojan refugees,
builds a fleet, and sets sail for a new land and a
new life. But a powerful enemy—Juno, queen of the
Olympian gods—imperils his voyage at every
opportunity. She despises the Trojan race for two
reasons. First, a Trojan, Paris, had insulted her
when he selected Aphrodite over her in a beauty
contest before the war. Second, another Trojan,
Aeneas, had been selected by the Fates to found a
civilization that would one day vanquish her
favorite city, Carthage. Consequently, she visits
calamity upon Aeneas time and again, tossing and
whirling his ships and pointing their prows into
years, Aeneas and his followers—including his
father, Anchises, and son, Ascanius (known also as
Iulus)—roam the trackless oceans as Juno’s
playthings. In a final attempt to thwart Aeneas,
Juno persuades the king of the winds, Aeolus, to
loose powerful tempests against Aeneas’s fleet. Many
ships go down, and their crews and passengers with
them. However, the great god of the
sea—earth-shaking Neptune, who had built Troy’s
walls and who had once saved Aeneas on the Trojan
battlefield from terrible Achilles—calms the waters
to the smoothness of glass. The remaining ships,
seven in all, find safe harbor in north Africa.
There, the refugees kill stags, make fire, and
pacify raging hunger. Aeneas heartens his followers,
reminding them that on their voyage they had
survived monsters, treachery, and roiling seas.
Venus—the mother of Aeneas—appears to him in disguise,
she directs him to Carthage, ruled by beautiful Dido.
Dido had founded the city after abandoning her native
Phoenicia to escape her brother, Pygmalion, who had
murdered her husband, Sychaeus, for his wealth. Dido
then vowed never to remarry, never again to look with
love upon another man. However, Venus the goddess of
love, directs her son Cupid, the god of love, to smite
Dido with overpowering love for Aeneas to ensure his
safety once he arrives in Carthage. .Aeneas Tells His Story
receiving the Trojans, Dido orders a sumptuous banquet
for them and asks Aeneas to tell of Troy and his
wanderings across the seas. Dutifully, Aeneas tells
the tale, though it grieves him to recall the horror
of it all. Here is his story:
Ten years of war between
the Greeks and the Trojans bring only a stalemate. One
day, the Greeks abandon the battlefield and leave
behind a gigantic wooden horse, apparently a peace
offering. It is a wondrous thing, a mountain of
planking cut from fir trees, that stands at the gates
of Troy. As the Trojans gaze upon the horse in
amazement, shepherds bring into the city a Greek
captive, Sinon, bound at the wrists. A talented liar
who had allowed himself to be captured, Sinon
persuades the Trojans that the horse is an offering to
the goddess Minerva. If they accept it, they will
prosper as a mighty Asian power; if they destroy it,
they will bring calamity upon themselves. A Trojan
priest, Laoco÷n, warns the people not to receive
it. “Beware the Greeks bearing gifts,” he cries,
hurling a spear into its side. At that moment, two
serpents rise from the sea, come ashore, and seize
Laoco÷n and his two sons, girding them in coils,
then disappear. The Trojans interpret this ghastly
event as a sign that the gods prize the horse as a
holy offering; Laoco÷n had received just
punishment for desecrating it.
Because of its
size—verily, its breadth spans a hundred cubits and
its mane touches the clouds—the Trojans take hammer
and axe to the city walls, opening a breach big enough
to receive the horse into Troy. Cassandra—the daughter
of Troy’s king, Priam—admonishes her countrymen to
cease their madness. The horse, she says, is indeed a
trick that will bring ruin to Troy. Cassandra is
singularly talented in the prophetic arts; she can see
into the future and beyond, knowing the outcome of
events before they happen. But the god who gave her
this gift of prophecy, Apollo, also emplaced in her a
most cruel and debilitating handicap: Whenever she
pronounces a prophecy, no one will believe her. So it
is that the Trojans ignore her and pull the horse into
After nightfall, its
belly opens and releases armed Greeks who bring sword
and torch to sleeping Troy. The rest of the Greek
horde—hidden behind rocks and hills and in folds of
valleys—merge into a river of destruction that rages
through the breach in the wall. They burn, pillage,
destroy. Aeneas saves his father and son but, in the
tumult of fire and smoke and fleeing citizens, loses
his wife, Creusa, who later dies.
In Phrygia, the
surviving Trojans construct ships, gather wind in
their unfolding sails, and set a course for Thrace.
There Aeneas founds a city, Aeneadae. But the voice of
a dead Trojan, Polydorus, warns Aeneas to seek haven
elsewhere, for Thrace is an evil land that betrayed
Troy during the war, first stealing Trojan gold sent
to Thrace for safekeeping, then pledging allegiance to
Taking the advice of Polydorus,
Aeneas and his men sail on to the island of Delos, the
birthplace of the god Apollo. Anius, king of Delos and
high priest of Apollo, greets Aeneas and welcomes him
and his father. At the temple of Apollo, Aeneas prays
for guidance, and the voice of Apollo tells him to
seek the land that was once a home for the Trojan
race. Anchises interprets these words as referring to
Crete. It was once the home of Teucer, who later
became an early settler of Troy.
Aeneas then sails on, passing through "foaming straits
thick with islands" and picking up a wind that carries
him on to Crete. There, Aeneas establishes another
city, Pergamum, and his men plow the fields while he
makes laws and plans for the future of the "new Troy."
But after pestilence descends upon the land, the
harvest fails and hunger rules. In a dream, Aeneas
learns that Italy, not Crete, is to be the home of the
new Trojan civilization, for Italy was the birthplace
of the progenitor of the Trojan race, Dardanus.
With the Harpies
Aeneas and his followers take to their ships once
more, peril besets them in the form of storms,
raging seas, and mists. Day becomes night, and they
wander in dark fog until at last that they put in at
the Strophades, islands in the Ionian Sea. There
they slaughter goats and cows and feast on them
along the beach. Suddenly, monstrous birds called
Harpies descend upon them, snatching at the food.
These beasts with clawed hands and the faces of
young virgins emit foul excrement from their
bellies. After the men battle the Harpies, one of
the winged beasts—Celaeno, a prophetess and eldest
of the Furies—tells Aeneas to leave the island and
seek his destiny in Italy. The frightened crewmen
put aside their weapons. Aeneas's father, Anchises,
makes sacrifices to the gods, calling on them to
protect the travelers, and then they set sail once
again, eventually landing at Actium on the western
coast of Greece. There they set up altars to the
gods and spend their time holding athletic games,
such as wrestling bouts.
ready to pursue their destiny again, they move on
through peaceful seas, passing Epirus, and
eventually put into the harbor of Chaonia and visit
its city, Buthrotum. There, Aeneas meets and speaks
with Andromache, widow of Hector, the greatest
Trojan warrior, who was slain by the greatest of all
warriors in all the world, the Greek Achilles.
tells Aeneas that when Troy fell to the Greeks, the
son of Achilles, Pyrrhus, took her as his captive,
and she bore him three sons as his slave. When
Pyrrhus pursued another woman, Hermione, he placed
Andromache in the care of Helenus, the brother of
Hector. Meanwhile, Hermione's husband slew Pyrrhus,
and Andromache and Helenus gained their freedom and
made their home in Chaonia.
Andromache completes her account, Helenus, a
prophet, learns from Apollo the trials Aeneas yet
must undergo before fulfilling his destiny, then
advises Aeneas on how to cope with them. With
Helenus's advice in mind, Aeneas and his men resume
their journey, traveling all the way to Sicily.
There, a Greek named Achaemenides warns them of a
great danger on the island, a race of one-eyed
giants called the Cyclopes. Achaemenides had been a
member of the crew of Ulysses, the great Greek
warrior who had designed the Trojan horse, when
Ulysses sojourned in Sicily while on his way home to
Ithaca, Greece. When Ulysses and his crew escaped
the island, Achaemenides was left behind. He now
urges Aeneas to flee the island. Aeneas does so,
taking Achaemenides with him. Eventually,
before the seas carry them to the land of Dido, they
stop at several other islands, the last of which is
Drepanum. There, his elderly father dies. Aeneas tells
Dido, "This was my last trouble, this the end of my
says, he traveled to North Africa, to the realm of
Dido. His tale is complete...The Great Love Affair
following months, Dido—now desperately in love with
Aeneas—spends all her time with him, and he with her.
They seem frozen in time, unaware of past or present,
and scandalous tales are told about them. Mighty Jove
then sends the messenger god, Mercury, to Carthage to
remind Aeneas of his destiny. It is wrong for him to
dally, Mercury says, when he has an important mission
awaiting him. When heedful Aeneas secretly prepares to
leave, Dido discovers his plans and implores him to
stay. But he is deaf to her pleas. Wounded, angry,
bitter, she curses him and his kind and importunes the
gods to drive a wedge of everlasting hatred between
his future country and Carthage. As the Trojans set
sail, she falls on a sword left behind by Aeneas and
dies in the arms of her sister, Anna.
Far from shore now, as
the fleet gathers wind and speed and Carthage glows
with the flames of Dido’s funeral pyre, a storm forces
Aeneas off course to Sicily. There, a Trojan, Acestes,
who has founded a kingdom near Mount Eryx, welcomes
Aeneas. Aeneas then holds funeral games in memory of
his father, including a boat race, a footrace, a
boxing match, an archery match, and a competition in
meddlesome Juno stirs dissent among the Trojan women,
who are weary of traveling from port to port. When
they set the ships ablaze, great Jupiter—answering a
hurried prayer of Aeneas—quenches the fire with rain.
Before leaving Sicily, Aeneas learns from the ghost of
his father that he is to travel next to Cumae, Italy,
to meet with his father in the Underworld. At Cumae a
prophetess called the Sybil informs Aeneas that the
land in which he will establish the new Troy is
Latium, a region along the west coast of central
Italy. But he first must fight a war caused by his
marriage to a woman of Latium.
After the Sybil escorts Aeneas
into Hades, he sees wondrous and terrifying
sights—centaurs, giants, serpents, hideous monsters,
crying babies, the wandering ghosts of the unburied
dead, the pitiful forms of those who died by their own
hand, and the personifications of Disease, Hunger,
War, Grief, and Old Age. And he sees Dido, too. But
she turns away, preferring darkest hell to the
still-burning embers of love in his eyes...
By and by, Aeneas and
his guide come upon a world of light—a world of grassy
meadows, gentle streams, and shaded groves. In this
heavenly corner of the Underworld, Elysium, he meets
and embraces his father, Anchises, who tells Aeneas of
the glorious future in store for him and the Roman
civilization he is to found. Aeneas’s progeny will
become rulers of the world, he says. Anchises even
mentions Augustus Caesar by name, saying he will
preside over a great golden age in which Rome rules a
vast empire that is the jewel of human civilization.
Resuming his journey, Aeneas sails along the
Italian coast until he reaches the Tiber River, then
turns and enters its mouth, moving on to Latium.
There, he wishes to establish his new home and sends a
hundred envoys to Latinus, the king of Latium, with a
message. One of the envoys, Ilioneus, presents gifts
to the king—relics from Troy—and recites the message.
Aeneas, he says, asks Latinus to grant him and his
compatriots enough land to build a city and live in
peace with Latinus. Having heard from an oracle that
his daughter, Lavinia, was destined to marry a
foreigner, Latinus tells Ilioneus that he will grant
Aeneas the land he desires. What is more, he proposes
to betroth his daughter to Aeneas even though Latinus
has already pledged Lavinia to Turnus, King of the
Rutulians, a tribe in Latium. Latinus then gives the
visitors gifts of horses for themselves and a chariot
and twin horses for Aeneas.
Trojans begin building their city, Juno observes
them from the heavens. She had done all in her power
to thwart their plans to establish a new homeland,
but failed. Angry, she summons Alecto, one of the
snake-haired Furies, who is so treacherous a
troublemaker that even her own Father—Pluto, the
ruler of the Underworld—despises her. She tells
the power to rouse brothers, who are one, to
conflict, Alecto then
does her dirty work. First, with a snake from her
hair, she envenoms Latinus's wife, Amata, with hatred
for Aeneas. Amata then lashes out at her husband for
promising Lavinia to Aeneas. But he refuses to back
down. So Amata goes into the land and, overcome with
frenzy, inflames other women against Aeneas and the
Trojans. Alecto then goes to the palace of Turnus to
inflame him against Aeneas. Appearing to him in the
guise of an old woman named Calybe, priestess of the
temple of Juno, she tells, him, " The king denies you
your bride and the dowry looked for / by your race,
and a stranger is sought as heir to the throne."
overturn homes with hatred: you bring the scourge
funeral torch into the house: you’ve a thousand
thousand noxious arts. Search your fertile breast,
peace accord, sow accusations of war:
let men in
a moment need, demand and seize their weapons.
Finally, while young
Ascanius is hunting in the woods, she inflames his
hounds to track down the prize stag of the king, a
magnificent animal nurtured by Tyrrhus, the keeper of
the king's herds. His daughter, Silvia, dotes on the
deer and even adorns its antlers with garlands. After
the dogs corner the stag, Alecto likewise inflames
Ascanius and guides his hand when he shoots an arrow
into flank and belly of the stag. The deer returns
home to its stall, bleeding profusely and crying out.
Alecto sounds the call of the herdsmen, and they come
running with axes, staffs, and metal stakes. A clash
ensues between the herdsmen and the Trojans. Innocent
men who happen to be at the scene are killed,
including Galaesus, an old man
who was praying for peace at the time.
This skirmish makes war
appear inevitable, and the two sides make the
necessary preparation. Aeneas sails to Pallantium to
seek the aid of Evander, king of Arcadia and its
colony of Greeks.
Mezentius ally with Turnus, and Evander allies with
Aeneas. Gods and goddesses take sides. Venus calls
upon her husband, Vulcan, the god of the forge, to
make weapons and armor for the Trojans. Juno sends
Iris to rouse Turnus to war, and he in turns mobilizes
his men and attacks at Pallantium. The fury of the
warfare is reminiscent of the raging violence of the
Trojan War. After this early clash, Aeneas returns
from Pallantium and a pitched battle ensues on land.
Aeneas wields a mighty sword and spear, downing one
warrior after another. During the fighting, Turnus
seeks out and kills brave Pallas, son of Evander, with
a steel-tipped oak spear. His death deeply saddens
Evander and Aeneas. Aeneas had taken a great liking to
the youth. Even as he mourns the youth, terrible rage
fires his blood with vengeance and he now kills
furiously and frequently in hopes of coming across
Turnus. But Juno intervenes and withdraws Turnus from
Aeneas and his men appear to have
the upper hand. The Latins then convene a council at
which King Latinus proposes to offer concessions to
Aeneas as part of a peace treaty. DrancŰs, a prominent Latin who
blames Turnus for the problems arising from the war,
supports Latinus's proposal and tells Turnus,
your people, Turnus
angrily rejects the idea that the Trojans have
conquered his army, saying.
pride aside, and conquered, give way. Routed,
seen enough of death and made broad acres desolate.
beaten? You total disgrace, can anyone who sees
In the end,
the conflict comes down to hand-to-hand combat between
Aeneas and Turnus. Now is the Trojan hero's
opportunity to avenge the death of Evander and end the
war. When Aeneas drives his sword through Turnus,
peace descends over the land and Aeneas becomes the
founder and progenitor of the greatest nation in
history: glorious Rome.
swollen with Trojan blood, and all Evander’s
race toppled, and the Arcadians stripped
say with justice I am beaten?
Noble Trojan warrior destined to found the great
Roman civilization. He is the protagonist. When the
Greeks entered Troy and burned the city, he fled
with his son and father after his wife died in the
Greek onslaught. After rounding up other refugee
soldiers from Troy, he and his men go on a long and
perilous journey, facing angry seas and monsters,
before arriving in Italy only to go to war again.
But he defeats his enemy and fulfills his
Father and advisor of Aeneas. After he dies on the
journey to Italy, he continues to advise Aeneas when
he appears to him in dreams and visions. He also
escorts Aeneas through the Underworld.
(Iulus): Son of Aeneas. Ascanius, who exhibits
the same noble qualities as his father, represents
the future of the Trojan immigrants as Romans.
Wife of Aeneas and mother of Ascanius. She dies
during the fighting at Troy but later appears to
Aeneas to urge him to pursue his destiny.
Queen of Carthage; she falls desperately in love
Sychaeus: Late husband of Dido.
After Dido's brother, Pygmalion, killed him for
his gold, Dido vowed never again to marry.
Trusted friend of Aeneas.
King of Delos and high priest of Apollo. He welcomes
Aeneas to Delos.
King of the Latins, who occupy central Italy. He
welcomes Aeneas to his domain and promotes the
marriage of his daughter, Lavinia, to Aeneas.
Daughter of Latinus; she is betrothed to Aeneas
after first being pledged to Turnus
Wife of Latinus. She supports a marriage between
Lavinia and Turnus. Amata commits suicide when it
becomes apparent that Aeneas will defeat Turnus and
King of the Rutulian tribe on the coast of Latium in
Italy. He is the chief battlefield foe of
Sister of Turnus and a minor goddess of rivers and
lakes. At the request of Juno, she persuades the
Rutulians to break their treaty with the Trojans,
saying that the Trojans plan to subjugate the
Father of Turnus.
Female ally of Turnus. After the Trojan warrior
Arruns kills her during battle, the goddess Diana
causes the death of Arruns.
Trojan warrior who kills Camilla.
Estruscan leader allied with Turnus.
Messapus: Leader of Turnus's
front ranks at the beginning of the war.
Caicus: Trojan warrior who spies
the army of Turnus approaching and alerts his
Evander: King of Pallantium, Italy. He
supports Aeneas against Turnus.
Pallas: Son of Evander. His death
in battle deeply grieves Aeneas and Evander.
Aeneas slays Turnus in revenge, ending the war
with the Latins.
DrancŰs: Prominent Latin who
blames Turnus for the problems arising from the
war in Italy. He supports Latinus's proposal for a
peace treaty with the Trojans.
Navigator of Aeneas's ship.
Teucer: Early settler of Troy who
came from Crete.
Founder of the House of Troy and ancestor of
Tyrrhus: Keeper of the king's
herds of deer and manager of his lands.
Almo: Oldest of the sons of
Tyrrhus. An arrow brings him down in a clash
between the Trojans and Latins.
Silvia: Daughter of Tyrrhus.
Galaesus: Peaceful and just man
who is killed in the early clash between the
Trojans and Latins after Ascanius kills the king's
Calybe: Priestess of the temple
of Juno in Latium. Alecto disguises herself as
Calybe when she rouses Turns from sleep to go to
Athletes: These are men and boys who take part
in the Sicilian games Aeneas holds in honor of his
deceased father. They include Mnesthus,
Sergestus, Cloanthus, Menoetes, Cleanthus, Diores,
Salius, Patron, Helymus, Panopes, Dares, Entellus,
Eurytion, Phegeus and Sagaris, Nisus, Euryalus, Little
Priam, Polites, and Atys.
Native Trojan who founds the kingdom of Drepanum in
Sicily. After a storm forces Aeneas and his crew to
shore, Acestes hosts them. He wins the archery
contest during the athletic competition.
Trojan Warrior who alerts others to the burning
King of Troy.
A son of Priam and Hecuba and the greatest of the
Trojan warriors in the Trojan War.
Beautiful wife of King Menelaus of Greece.
A son of Priam. He started the Trojan War by
stealing the beautiful Helen from Menelaus.
Greek king and warrior; husband of Helen.
Greek king and commanding general of the Greek
armies in the Trojan War.
Greatest of the Greek warriors in the Trojan War. He
Great (Greek: Aias): Gigantic Greek warrior,
second only to Achilles in battlefield prowess.
Wily Greek warrior who proposed the idea of the
wooden horse. Hero of Homer's Odyssey.
Designer of the wooden horse.
Greek youth who persuades the Trojans to accept the
wooden horse as a gift.
Greek whom Sinon says was sent to consult the oracle
Trojan who informs Aeneas that the wooden horse
concealed Greek warriors.
Widow of Hector, the great Trojan warrior slain by
Daughter of Helen. While married to Andromache,
Pyrrhus, the son of Achilles, pursued
Husband of Hermione and slayer of Pyrrus.
A son of Priam. He marries Andromache after the
death of Pyrrhus.
Trojan seer who warns his fellow citizens not to
accept the wooden horse. When a sea serpent kills
him and his two sons, the Trojans believe their
deaths are a sign from the gods that Laoco÷n
was lying. He was, of course, telling the truth.
Trojan prophetess who also warns against accepting
the wooden horse.
Prophetess of the god Apollo. She tells Aeneas
of the tribulation that awaits him in Italy and
urges him to meet his challenges courageously.
Caieta: Aeneas's nurse.
Belus: Grandfather of Dido
Father of King Latinus.
A nymph and mother of Latinus.
(Greek: Diomedes): Powerful Greek warrior during the
Amycus, Gyus, Cloanthus: Trojans who die in
the storm created by Aeolus.
A son of Priam who dies at Troy. Aeneas sees him—his
entire body torn and mutilated—in the Underworld.
Greek prophet during the Trojan War.
Warriors in the Wooden Horse: Thessandrus,
Sthenelus, Acamas, Thoas, Neoptolemus, Machaon.
Epytus, Hypanis, Dymas, Coroebus: Trojan
warriors who, with Aeneas, fight for their lives in
the burning city of Troy.
Pelias: Trojans who accompany Aeneas to the
palace of Priam during the burning of Troy.
A son of Priam. He dies during the burning of Troy.
Elder Trojan who offers advice during the war in
Trojan who died heroically in the war with the
Lichas, Cisseus, Gyas, Pharus, Maeon: Warriors
whom Aeneas kills first after returning from
Trojans in the Underworld
Deities, Monsters, and Figures in
or Jove (Greek: Zeus): King of the gods. When
Trojan ships are burning at Sicily, he sends rain
that extinguishes the fire.
Juno (Greek: Hera) Queen of
the gods. She opposes the Trojans and attempts to
sabotage their voyage at every opportunity.
Aphrodite): Goddess of love and mother of Aeneas;
she works on behalf of her son. The Aeneid
also refers to her as Cytherea.
(Greek: Poseidon): God of the sea. He calms
stormy waters for Aeneas and his fleet.
CymothoŰ: Sea gods who assist Neptune.
Hephaestus): God of the forge and husband of Venus.
He makes weapons and armor for the Trojans.
God of the winds. At Juno's behest, he causes raging
winds to harry the Trojan fleet.
God of prophecy, music, poetry, and medicine;
supporter of the Trojans. He is sometimes referred
to as Phoebus Apollo, or simply Phoebus.
Beautiful nymph whom Juno promises to Aeolus for
sending his winds against the Trojan ships.
Celaeno: One of the Harpies. She
prophesies that Aeneas will not reach his future
homeland until he and his men encounter plague and
One of the Furies. She helps Juno in her efforts to
thwart Aeneas and the Trojans.
Tiberinus: God who rises from a
stream in Latium and speaks to Aeneas in a dream,
telling him the place of the new Troy and
prophesying that Aeneas's son, Ascanius, will
found the city of Alba within thirty years.
God of love and son of Venus.
(Greek: Cronus): Father of Jupiter and Juno.
(Greek: Athena, or Pallas Athena): Goddess of wisdom and war. She was
born fully grown in a suit of armor, issuing from
the forehead of Jupiter. Her Greek name is Athena.
Mars (Greek: Ares): God of war.
Pluto (Greek: Hades): God of the
Proserpine or Prosperpina (Greek:
Persephone): Goddess of the Underworld.
Diana (Greek: Artemis): Goddess
of the moon and of hunting.
Mother of Mercury.
Ferryman who takes souls across the River Styx to
Scylla: Six-headed monster.
Charybdis: Sea monster that
creates a whirlpool by gulping water.
Polyphemus: King of a race of
one-eyed giants known as the Cyclopes (or
Romulus and Remus: Twin sons of
Mars and legendary founders of Rome. Romulus is
also called Quirinus.
Aurora (Greek: Eos): Goddess of
Vesta (Greek: Hestia): Goddess of
(Greek: Demeter): Goddess of agriculture.
Son of Zeus; subject of myths telling of his great
Musician who fails in his attempt to bring his wife,
Eurydice, out of the Underworld.
Main Theme: Glorification of Rome
goal in writing The Aeneid was to glorify
Rome and exalt its emperor. During Virgil’s
lifetime, Rome achieved the pinnacle of its
greatness under Augustus Caesar, earlier known as
Octavian, who was by adoption the grandnephew of
Julius Caesar. Octavian (63 BC-AD 14) became emperor
in 29 BC, two years after defeating Mark Antony in
the Battle of Actium. In 27 BC, the senate bestowed
on Octavian the title “Augustus” to call attention
to his superior qualities. Augustus Caesar
instituted many political and social reforms,
constructed roads linking imperial cities, promoted
the arts, and inaugurated an era of peace (known as
the pax romana) that endured long after his
death. Virgil, who benefited from the emperor’s
patronage, decided to extol Caesar in The Aeneid,
conferring on him a noble heritage and lineage
brought from Troy to Italy in the person of the
princely Aeneas, whose courage, nobility,
perseverance, and ingenuity seeded Italy with
greatness. Although Aeneas was a figure of myth, not
fact, all-powerful Augustus welcomed Virgil’s tale
as a fitting metaphor for historical truth.
Cannot Be Overturned
queen of the Olympian gods, cannot thwart the
destiny of Aeneas to found a great civilization. Nor
can Dido, passionately in love with Aeneas; nor can
Turnus, rabidly in hate with Aeneas.
to Know People in High Places
overcoming obstacles, Aeneas receives the help of
his divine mother, Venus, the goddess of love, as
well as her father, Jupiter, the king of the gods,
and his brother, Neptune, the god of the sea.
literary work intended to glorify Rome, The
Aeneid had to present the legendary founder of
Rome as an almost superhuman hero. So it was that
Virgil endowed Aeneas with great courage, nobility,
fortitude, and ingenuity. During his voyage to
Italy, he overcomes the wrath of the gods, battles
monsters, mourns the death of his father, and fights
a war. But perhaps his most difficult feat was to
abandon the beautiful Dido, the queen of Carthage.
His commitment to destiny trumped his desire for
Was Not Built in a Day
centuries for the foundation and development of the
great Roman civilization. Virgil takes the reader
back to the beginning, to the destruction of Troy,
and shows him the tortuous path that led to the
birth of Rome.
Homage to the Dead
Rome and Greece, it was important to conduct
dignified funeral rites for the dead, to acknowledge
their achievements, and to remember them in prayers
and keep their memory alive in tales handed down
from generation to generation. In The Aeneid,
the author continually alludes to noble figures from
the past, sometimes digressing from the main plot to
tell stories about them.
appears to occur when Turnus kills Evander's son,
Pallas, enraging Aeneas, who then kills furiously
and frequently in hopes of coming across Turnus. It
is now only a matter of time before Aeneas quenches
his wrath. After Turnus rejects a proposal to make
peace with the Trojans, Aeneas slays him and the war
Role of Nonhuman
During his voyage, Aeneas must overcome
the wrath of gods, monsters, and beasts. These
opponents seem to represent the obstacles and the
bad luck, or fate, that humans must face on their
voyage through life.
writer Homer established literary practices, rules,
or devices in his two great epics, The Iliad
and The Odyssey. They became commonplace in
epic poetry written in ancient, medieval, and later
times. These rules or devices are now known as epic
conventions. They include the following:
The Gods of Olympus
invocation of the muse, in which a writer requests
divine help in composing his work.
the main story in the middle of a hero's
adventures, then flashing back to recount previous
events. Such an epic device is known by a Latin
term, in medias res, meaning in the middle
of things. In The Aeneid, Aeneas is
already under way in his sea voyage. After he
arrives in Carthage, Africa, he recounts previous
events—those occurring at the end of the Trojan
War—at the request of Dido.
a story with which readers or listeners are
already familiar. Most of the great writers of the
ancient world—as well as many great writers in
later times, including Shakespeare—frequently told
stories already known to the public. Thus, in such
stories, there were no unexpected plot twists, no
surprise endings. If this sounds strange to you,
the modern reader and theatergoer, consider that
many of the most popular motion pictures today are
about stories already known to the public.
Examples are The Passion of the Christ, Titanic,
The Ten Commandments, Troy, Spartacus,
Pearl Harbor, and Gettysburg.
in the celestial realm. Divine beings fight and
scheme against one another—and against humans—in
the epics of Homer and Virgil, and they do so in
John Milton's Paradise Lost on a grand
scale, with Satan and his forces opposing God and
from the main plot, such as the episode about the
Sicilian athletic games in The Aeneid.
mythology books generally list twelve deities as the
chief gods in Greek mythology and as residents
of Mount Olympus. However, two of these important
deities spent most of their time in the domains
which they governed, the sea and the underworld. In
addition, the Greeks of one era sometimes differed
with the Greeks of another era on who were the most
important gods. Consequently, the list of the
favored twelve sometimes changed, omitting one god
in favor of another.
The Olympian gods were
the successors of an earlier dynasty of gods known
as Titans. The Titan ruler, Cronos (also Cronus),
believing that one of his children might attempt to
overthrow him, swallowed each of them after his or
her birth. However, one child, Zeus, was rescued by
his mother and hidden on the island of Crete. Later,
Zeus forced his father to vomit the other children
from his stomach. Then, with the help of his
siblings, he overthrew Cronus to become lord of the
The names of the chief
Olympian deities are listed below. Writers in
ancient Greece—such as Sophocles, Aeschylus, and
Euripides—used the original Greek names, the English
transliteration of which appears at left in the
list. Writers in ancient Rome, including Virgil,
used the Latin version of the names, the English
transliteration of which appears in
Some English language
writers, past and present, use the transliteration
of the Greek version; others prefer the
transliteration of the Latin (or Roman) version. For
example, William Shakespeare uses the
transliteration of the Latin version in his plays
and poems. Instead of referring to the king of the
gods as Zeus (the transliteration of the Greek
name), he refers to him as Jupiter and Jove, the
transliterations of the Latin names (Iuppiter
and Iovis). Here are the names of the
Olympian gods and a brief description of each:.
(Jupiter and Jove): King and protector
of the gods and humankind. As ruler of the
sky, he made rain and thunder and wielded
lightning bolts. Zeus was the youngest son
of the Titans Cronus and Rhea.
Hera (Juno): Queen of the
gods and protector of marriage. She was the
wife of Zeus and, as the daughter of the
Titans Cronus and Rhea, also his sister.
Athena or Pallas Athena (Minerva): Goddess of wisdom
and war. She was born fully grown in a suit
of armor, issuing from the forehead of Zeus.
The Greeks highly revered her and built many
temples in her honor.
Ares (Mars): God of war and
the son of Zeus and Hera.
(Neptune): God of the sea and brother of
Hades (Pluto): God of the
underworld and brother of Zeus.
Hephaestus (Vulcan): God of
fire and metalwork who built the palaces in
which the Olympian gods lived. He also
forged their armor and made their jewelry.
He was the son of Zeus and Hera.
Apollo, Phoebus Apollo, or
Phoebus (Same as Greek Names): God of
prophecy, music, poetry, and medicine. His
alternate name, Phoebus, means brightness,
and he was thus also considered the god of
the sun. He was the son of Zeus and Leto,
the daughter of Titans. The Greeks highly
revered him and built many temples in his
honor. One such temple at Delphi was the
site of a famous oracle, the Pythia, who
pronounced prophecies as the mouthpiece of
Artemis (Diana): Goddess of
the hunt. She was the daughter of Zeus and
Leto (see Apollo) and the twin sister of
Aphrodite (Venus): Goddess
of love and beauty. According to Homer, she
was the daughter of Zeus and Dione, the
daughter of a Titan; according to the Greek
poet Hesiod, she was born from the foam of
Hermes (Mercury): Messenger
god who wore a winged hat and winged
sandals. He was also the god of science,
luck, commerce, and cunning. He was the son
of Zeus and Maia, the daughter of a Titan.
Hestia (Vesta): Goddess of
the home and hearth and sister of Zeus.
.......Other lists of the major
Olympian gods omit Hades in favor
of Hebe, a cupbearer of the gods.
Still others rank Dionysus (Roman
name, Bacchus), the god of wine and
vegetation and a patron of the arts, as
one of the elite twelve.
Study Questions and Essay Topics
other heroes in myth or history who traveled a
great distance to found new civilizations, reap
the riches of virgin lands, find new navigation
routes, or institute trade with native
- In an
informative essay, discuss Virgil's debt to the
great Greek epic poet, Homer.
Aeneas's abandonment of Dido suggest that he is at
heart cruel and unfeeling or that he is fiercely
dedicated to the goal of founding the "new Troy"?
- In an
essay, explain the extent to which ancient Romans
and Greeks relied on soothsayers.
the opening of The Aeneid, Aeneas "invokes
the muse." What was a muse? What does it mean to
invoke a muse?
does Juno despise the Trojans?
an essay that compares and contrasts The
Aeneid with Homer's Odyssey.
an essay that explains dactylic
hexameter, the verse form Virgil used in The