The Aeneid

A2 Classical Civilisation - Shmoop

  • Created by: Chloe
  • Created on: 29-05-12 14:57

Overall Summary (1)

  • After the destruction of Troy, the Trojan prince Aeneas leads a small band of survivors in search of a new home in Italy. Unfortunately, as they sail on their way, they get spotted by the goddess Juno. 
  • Juno hates the Trojans because of an old grudge, and because they are destined to become the Romans, who will destroy Carthage, her favorite city. Conspiring with the god of the winds, Juno whips up a storm, forcing the Trojans to take refuge in – you guessed it – Carthage.
  • Luckily, Aeneas has connections. In fact, his mom, Venus, is the goddess of connections. She introduces him to Dido, the beautiful queen of Carthage, who is recently widowed. Venus gets Cupid, the personification of love, to make Dido fall madly in love with Aeneas. 
  • That night, at a banquet in his honor, Aeneas tells Dido the story of how Troy was captured, and how he escaped, carrying his father, Anchises, on his back, and leading his son, Ascanius, by the hand. (His wife, Creusa, died in the chaos – making Aeneas single, too.) 
  • Next, Aeneas recounts he and his fellow refugees' wanderings over the sea, including their close encounters with various weird mythological creatures. Aeneas's story ends with the death of his father, Anchises.
1 of 87

Overall Summary (2)

  • Aeneas and the Trojans end up wintering in Carthage, and he and Dido become an item. Then Jupiter gets worried that Aeneas is abandoning his destiny of founding a new city. He sends the god Mercury down to tell him to get moving. Aeneas does as he's told, and Dido kills herself. 
  • A storm forces the Trojans to land in Sicily – at the exact place where they buried Anchises a year before. While the Trojans hold athletic contests in the old man's honor, Juno convinces the Trojan women to set fire to the ships. Realizing that not everyone is as jazzed about going to Italy as he is, Aeneas leaves some people in Sicily and sails on to Italy with his A-team. 
  • Their first stop is Cumae, in the Bay of Naples, where they visit the Sibyl, a prophetess. She leads Aeneas down to the underworld, where he sees a lot of spooky stuff, talks with his father Anchises, and sees the spirits of future Roman heroes, waiting to be born. He also encounters Dido. He tries to talk to her but she rejects him.
2 of 87

Overall Summary (3)

  • Fired up by what he has seen in the underworld, Aeneas sails to Latium. As it happens, Latinus, the local king, has received an oracle saying his only child, Lavinia, must marry a foreign husband; he offers her to Aeneas in marriage. 
  • The problem is that Amata, Latinus's wife, wants their daughter to marry the local prince Turnus. Seeing her opportunity, Juno sends a Fury down to make both Amata and Turnus crazed with rage. Then she tricks Ascanius to shoot a stag kept as a pet by Latinus's gamekeeper. 
  • This provokes a war between the Italians and the Trojans.
  • While the Italians are gathering allies, the god of the River Tiber appears to Aeneas in a dream and tells him to make an alliance with the Arcadian King Evander who lives upriver. Aeneas does as he's told and Evander lends him some troops, including his own son, Pallas. He also tells Aeneas to join forces with the Etruscans. 
  • After Aeneas sets out to speak to them, Venus comes down and gives him some armor made by the god Vulcan. It is decorated with scenes from the glorious future of Rome.
3 of 87

Overall Summary (4)

  • Meanwhile, in Aeneas's absence, Turnus and his men attack the Trojan fort, but are unable to capture it. 
  • That night, two Trojan warriors, Nisus and Euryalus, try to break through the Italian lines to reach Aeneas, but end up being killed by an Italian patrol. 
  • Two days later, Aeneas arrives with his Arcadian and Etruscan allies. In the battle that day, Turnus kills Pallas. 
  • The next day, Aeneas and the Italians agree on a twelve-day truce to bury their dead, but it is broken three days later. The ensuing battle leads to the death of Camilla, a warrior queen allied with Turnus.
  • That evening, Turnus decides to fight Aeneas one-on-one for Lavinia and the kingdom. Unfortunately, the next day, when they are about to fight their duel, the nymph Juturna (Turnus's sister) provokes one of the Italians to throw a spear at the Trojans, starting a new battle. 
  • After much fighting, Aeneas finally comes head-to-head with Turnus and wounds him with his spear. As Turnus begs for mercy, Aeneas considers sparing him – until he sees that Turnus is wearing a belt he stole from Pallas. Enraged, Aeneas kills Turnus with his sword.
4 of 87

Book 1 (1)

  • Virgil begins by announcing his theme. He is going to be telling the story of how Aeneas made his way from Troy to Italy and founded the precursor to the modern city of Rome. (That's modern from Virgil's perspective – i.e., the first century B.C.)
  • Virgil also reveals that Aeneas is going to have a really, really crummy time of it. This, he explains, is because the goddess Juno is mad at him.
  • Juno – the Roman name for the Greek goddess Hera is mad at Aeneas for two reasons.
  • The first reason is because Aeneas is a Trojan. Juno hates the Trojans because Paris, a Trojan prince, once picked Venus (a.k.a. Aphrodite) over her and Minerva (a.k.a. Athene) in a beauty contest. This made the two Olympian Idol losers take the Greeks' side during the Trojan War. 
  • The second reason Juno hates Aeneas is because she loves Carthage, a Phoenician city in Northern Africa (in modern-day Tunisia, to be precise).
  • Juno knows that, many years later, Rome and Carthage are destined to fight a series of three major wars. These wars, known as the Punic Wars, resulted in the complete destruction of Carthage. Because Aeneas is on his way to found Rome – well, you get the picture
5 of 87

Book 1 (2)

  • Juno first catches sight of Aeneas and his fleet as they are sailing past Sicily. Juno doesn't like this one bit, and decides to give him a hard time, whether the Fates like it or not.
  • The first thing she does is go find Aeolus, the king of the winds (he was appointed by Jupiter).
  • Juno tells Aeolus to stir up the sea against the Trojans; she says she'll give him one of her nymphs to marry, in return for his trouble.
  • Aeolus tells Juno that her wish is his command – after all, she has given him a lot of sweet stuff already. (It is unclear whether Aeolus accepts the nymph or not, though it seems like he doesn't.)
  • He takes his spear and pounds on the mountain where the winds are locked up. Out come the East Wind and the South Wind. They speed down to where the Trojans are sailing and stir up a storm against them.
  • As the storm starts to pick up, Aeneas exclaims how he wishes he had died back home in Troy. That would have been a lot better than the death that is about to befall them.
  • Sure enough, things start to look bad: three ships crash and three get stuck on sandbars.
6 of 87

Book 1 (3)

  • Just then, though, Neptune, the god of the sea, hears the commotion going on above him. He pokes his eyes out of the water, and isn't pleased with what he sees.
  • Neptune immediately tells off the winds for stirring up the ocean without his permission. Before he's even done talking, the storm ends.
  • After that close call, Aeneas and his remaining ships decide to head for the nearest land. This happens to be Libya.
  • Once they have pulled into a convenient natural harbor, Aeneas and his men disembark. They make a fire and eat grain by the seashore.
  • In the meantime, Aeneas and his comrade Achates climb a nearby hill to scan the sea for any sign of the lost ships. He doesn't see them.
  • Instead, he finds a troop of wild deer. Aeneas chases after them and shoots seven – one for each of his ships.
  • Then he takes them down to the shore, and gives his men a speech reminding them of how much they have suffered already. He tells them to look on the bright side – one day they might even look back nostalgically on these hardships.
7 of 87

Book 1 (4)

  • We are told that Aeneas is putting on a brave face for his men – inside, he feels more grief for their lost companions than anyone else. Meanwhile, the Trojans feast on the deer and get their strength back.
  • That evening, Jupiter, the king of the gods, is looking down at the world.
  • Just then, up comes Venus, the goddess of love, who also happens to be Aeneas's mom. Venus complains to Jupiter about how Aeneas and his men have to suffer so much, when other Trojans, like a guy called Antenor, have already been able to settle in various parts of Italy.
  • Jupiter says, "Chill. I'm still going to let Aeneas make it to Italy." He then explains how Aeneas, when he gets to Italy, is going to have to fight a war against the local tribe of the Rutulians. After that, he will reign for only three years – but then his son, Ascanius, will rule for another thirty years in the new capital of Alba Longa (don't worry if you haven't heard of it).
  • Alba Longa will be the headquarters of the Trojans in Italy for three centuries, until the queen and priestess Ilia gets pregnant by Mars, the god of war, and gives birth to Romulus and Remus. (Are things starting to sound a bit more familiar?)
  • Romulus will found Rome (aha!). Jupiter says he will give the Romans unlimited power. This power will reach its summit during the reign of Caesar (that is, the Emperor Augustus), which will bring about a great era of peace.
8 of 87

Book 1 (5)

  • Then Jupiter sends down the god Hermes to make the Carthaginians welcome Aeneas and the other Trojans.
  • That night, Aeneas is lying awake thinking. He decides to go exploring the next day.
  • And that's just what he does – once again with his buddy Achates. While they are walking in the woods, Aeneas and Achates run into Venus, who is disguised as a young huntress.
  • Aeneas knows something is up, and asks the huntress what goddess she is. (This would probably be a good opener even if she wasn't a goddess.) But Venus keeps up her disguise, saying that she's just an ordinary girl from that neck of the woods.
  • Venus then fills Aeneas in on what's been going on.
  • She explains how Dido, the local queen, was once married to Sychaeus, the richest man of the city of Tyre (in modern-day Lebanon). Her brother, Pygmalion, was the king of Tyre.
  • Unfortunately, Pygmalion was very greedy, and ended up killing Sychaeus for his money. He managed to keep what he had done from Dido for a little while – but then Sychaeus appeared to her in a dream and explained what had happened. (Sometimes dead men do tell tales.)
9 of 87

Book 1 (6)

  • Sychaeus told Dido to flee the city immediately, and also told her where some treasure was buried, to finance her trip. (Sweet.)
  • Dido gathered up some other men from Tyre and sailed over to North Africa, where they are now, and where she is building the city of Carthage.
  • Then, having wound up her story, Venus asks Aeneas who he is. Aeneas replies by saying his name, his quest, and his favorite color – wait, scratch that last bit. He ends by saying how he got slammed by the storm and lost a bunch of his companions.
  • Venus says, "Don't worry about them." To illustrate her point, she shows him where twelve swans are flapping around in peace, even though a little while ago they were being chased by an eagle. Venus interprets this as a sign that everyone's OK.
  • Then the goddess turns to go, and, as she does, Aeneas recognizes her. "Hey, mom!" he calls out,
  • "What's with the disguises? I just want to spend some quality time with you!"
  • But Venus doesn't answer. Instead, she wraps Aeneas and Achates in a cloud of mist, making them invisible. This allows them to walk into the heart of Carthage. All around them, people are busy as bees building the new city. Aeneas is jealous.
10 of 87

Book 1 (7)

  • In the middle of the city, the Trojans are building a temple to Juno. 
  • Aeneas goes up to the temple. On its gates, he sees depicted various scenes from the Trojan War. (Most of these are from the Iliad, though some come from the later tradition known as The Epic Cycle.)
  • Then, Queen Dido comes in with a bunch of attendants. She takes her seat in front of Juno's shrine.
  • At this point, in come representatives from all of the ships that Aeneas thought he had lost – safe and sound, just as Juno predicted.
  • The Trojans explain to Dido who they are and where they're going. They complain about the rough treatment they've gotten from the locals, and say that the gods are on their side.
  • They ask for permission to stay in the area for long enough to repair their ships; then they'll either sail for Latium as planned (if they reconnect with Aeneas, that is), or head to Sicily instead, where another Trojan, Acestes, has set himself up as king.
  • In response, Dido apologizes for any trouble they have encountered; she explains that she has had to ramp up security while their city gets on its feet.
11 of 87

Book 1 (8)

  • Then she tells them that she has heard of Aeneas. She says that the Trojans can go wherever they want, with a Carthaginian escort. Or, if they want, they can stay in Carthage as equal citizens. She says that she wishes Aeneas were there, and promises to send out scouts to search the coastline for him.
  • Just then, the cloud vanishes from Achates and Aeneas. At the same time, Venus makes Aeneas look super-impressive and handsome.
  • Aeneas thanks Dido for her hospitality. Dido is impressed with Aeneas and tells him so, explaining how she is an exile too, from Tyre.
  • She leads Aeneas into her palace and declares it a feast day.
  • Aeneas thinks about his son Ascanius and sends Achates back to the camp to bring him to the feast. He also tells him to bring some gifts for Dido. (Specifically, he asks him to bring some of the things that Helen brought with her to Troy when she ran off with Paris)
  • The goddess Venus decides to make Cupid – the god of love – take Ascanius's form so he can infect Dido with love. She tells Cupid that she will hide the real Ascanius away in one of her shrines so that no one will be the wiser.
12 of 87

Book 1 (9)

  • This is exactly what happens.
  • When Cupid arrives with the gifts, he first goes up to Aeneas and says "Hi dad." Then he goes and sits on Dido's lap.
  • Cupid inflames Dido with love for Aeneas, and slowly takes away her memory of her dead husband, Sychaeus.
  • At the end of the feast, Dido fills a huge bowl with wine, drinks from it, and starts passing it around. At the same time, the poet Iopas sings a song about the cosmos and the natural world.
  • Dido, who is growing more enthralled by the minute, asks Aeneas question after question about the Trojan War. Finally, she asks him how Troy was captured, and how he came to North Africa.
13 of 87

Book 2 (1)

  • After some initial hesitation, Aeneas begins to tell the story of Troy's downfall. Everything that follows in this book is told by Aeneas, and so reflects his perspective.
  • Aeneas begins by telling how the Greeks, unable to defeat the Trojans in battle, sail away from Troy. On the beach, they leave behind a giant wooden horse, with Greek warriors hidden inside it – though the Trojans don't know that yet.
  • Something else the Trojans don't know is that the Greeks didn't actually sail home. Instead, they made their way to the nearby island of Tenedos, and parked their navy behind it.
  • The Trojans are amazed at the horse and come out of their city to have a better look at it.
  • Some argue in favor of taking it inside the city. Others say it should be destroyed.
  • Laocoön, a priest, comes down from the city to have a look. He says not to trust anything having to do with the Greeks. He even guesses that there are Greeks hiding inside it, and throws his spear at the horse. It echoes, revealing that it is hollow.
  • The Trojans would have followed Laocoön's lead and destroyed the horse, but they are interrupted by a commotion.
14 of 87

Book 2 (2)

  • It turns out that all the ruckus is coming from some shepherds, who step forward with a prisoner – a Greek!
  • The captive's name is Sinon, and he has a story to tell.
  • Sinon claims to be related to Palamedes, a Greek hero who came to oppose the Trojan War. As a result of this, Palamedes was executed on a trumped-up charge, as a result of Ulysses's (a.k.a. Odysseus's) trickery.
  • Sinon says that because he complained about this injustice, Ulysses had it in for him.
  • He also says that the Greeks tried several times to sail home, but, every time, they were held back by bad weather. He says that their problems only got worse after the horse was built.
  • Finally, they sent a guy called Eurypylus to ask the oracle of Apollo what they should do. The oracle told Eurypylus that a human sacrifice was required for them to get home, just as a human sacrifice was required for them to get to Troy.
  • (Huh? The oracle is referring to the fact that, on the way to Troy the Greek king Agamemnon had to sacrifice his daughter, Iphigeneia, to convince the winds to blow the right way.)
15 of 87

Book 2 (3)

  • (Huh? The oracle is referring to the fact that, on the way to Troy the Greek king Agamemnon had to sacrifice his daughter, Iphigeneia, to convince the winds to blow the right way.)
  • As you can imagine, this made everyone pretty nervous. Ulysses asked Calchas, the soothsayer, to interpret the true will of the gods.
  • Calchas kept silent for ten days, but finally caved in to Ulysses's pestering, and named Sinon as the victim. Everyone else was cool with that.
  • When the day of the sacrifice rolled around, however, Sinon managed to escape. In the end, the Greeks sailed off without finding him.
  • So ends Sinon's story. In concluding, he begs the Trojans, in the name of the gods, to spare his life.
  • The Trojans feel pity for Sinon, and Priam orders them to remove his chains.
  • At this point, Priam thinks it's time to ask Sinon about the elephant in the room – that is, the horse on the beach.
  • Sinon first swears that he is no longer loyal to the Greeks. Then he explains how the Greeks' troubles started when Ulysses and Diomedes stole a statuette of Minerva from the Trojan citadel. 
16 of 87

Book 2 (4)

  • After they brought the statuette back to camp, however, wacky stuff started happening. The statuette started sweating, flaming, and moving its eyes. Oh yeah, and the goddess herself kept appearing out of the ground amid flashes of lightening.
  • Calchas, the seer, interpreted these events to mean that Troy could not be captured. They would have to sail home and wait for another sign from the gods before making war on it again.
  • According to Sinon, it was on Calchas's orders that they constructed the horse – as a replacement for what they had stolen. He says that the reason they made it so big was so that the Trojans wouldn't be able to take it inside their city.
  • Sinon tells the Trojans that if any of them damage the horse, it will bring destruction on all of Troy. On the other hand, if they take it inside the city, it will bring destruction on all the Greeks (nudge, nudge, wink, wink). Here ends Sinon's second story.
  • At this point, Laocoön, the priest guy who threw the spear at the side of the horse, starts making a sacrifice to Neptune, the god of the sea.
17 of 87

Book 2 (5)

  • All of a sudden, two giant serpents slither out of the sea, crawl up to Laocoön, and strangle him and his two sons to death. Then the serpents make their way into Troy, head to Minerva's citadel, and curl up behind the statue's shield.
  • The Trojans interpret this as punishment from the gods for spearing the horse. They decide to take the horse inside the city. They actually have to knock a hole in the wall to bring it in.
  • Everyone is celebrating. Four times the horse jars on its way into the city, and four times the weapons of the Greeks inside clatter. No one notices.
  • The Trojan princess Cassandra, who has the gift of prophesy, tries to prevent them from taking the horse inside the city. Unfortunately, the gods have cursed her so that her predictions will not be believed. As indeed they aren't.
  • Night comes. The Greek fleet sails back from Tenedos. Sinon lets the Greeks out of the horse. They kill the Trojan sentries and open the city gates for their friends who are just arriving at the city.
  • Meanwhile, in the city, Aeneas is asleep. The Trojan warrior Hector appears to him in his dream, all covered in blood and dirt as he was on the day he was killed by the Greek hero Achilles.
18 of 87

Book 2 (6)

  • Hector tells Aeneas that Troy is about to be captured. He tells him to gather up his household gods and go found a new city for them.
  • Aeneas wakes up and climbs up to his roof. From there, he hears a terrible clamor, and can see numerous houses burning.
  • His first thought is to arm himself for battle. Then, at his door appears Pantheus, the priest of Apollo, who is carrying some images of the gods, and leading his grandson.
  • Aeneas asks Pantheus where they should take their stand to defend Troy, but Pantheus tells him that the city is done for.
  • All the same, Aeneas rushes into the fight, and gathers up some companions. Together, they fight with suicidal courage.
  • They kill some Greeks and take their equipment. With these disguises, they are able to join the ranks of other Greeks and kill them through trickery.
  • But then Coroebus, one of Aeneas's comrades, who also happens to be the husband of Cassandra, sees his wife being dragged out of Minerva's temple by some Greek warriors. Like a madman, he rushes into the fight, and everyone else follows.
19 of 87

Book 2 (7)

  • In the chaos, they are hit by a bunch of missiles thrown by Trojans hiding out of top of the temple – they mistook Aeneas and company for Greeks because of their stolen armor.
  • Realizing the Trojans' deception, the Greeks rally, and a furious battle breaks out in front of the temple. Many Trojans are killed, including Coroebus.
  • But then the Trojans are distracted when they realize that Priam's palace is being besieged. Aeneas and some other men sneak in a back entrance to help out.
  • They make their way to the roof, where they knock a tower off onto the Greeks below. But there are too many of them, and they keep coming on.
  • The most fearsome of the Greeks is Neoptolemus, the son of Achilles.
  • Meanwhile, Priam puts on his armor and prepares to face down the Greeks, old and decrepit as he is.
  • When his wife Hecuba sees him, however, she tells him to stop being such a fool. She makes him come over with her and some women who are clinging to an altar for safety. (They are assuming that the Greeks will not violate the holiness of the place.)
  • Just then, Polites, one of Priam's sons, rushes in, wounded, with Neoptolemus in pursuit. Neoptolemus catches up to him and kills him.
20 of 87

Book 2 (8)

  • Enraged, Priam prepares to attack Neoptolemus. Priam reminds Neoptolemus about how his father, Achilles, once had pity on him when he gave Hector's body back for burial. (This scene is described in Book 23 of Homer'sIliad.) Priam tells Neoptolemus that his horrible behavior makes it seem as if he isn't a true son of Achilles.
  • Priam feebly attacks his younger foe, but does not succeed in wounding him.
  • Instead, Neoptolemus drags Priam through the blood of his son to the altar, and kills him there.
  • Aeneas, who has been watching this whole scene, suddenly thinks of his own father, Anchises.
  • On his way home, he runs into Helen. She is trying to hide, afraid of both the Trojans and the Greeks.
  • Aeneas is about to kill her, when his mother, Venus, appears and tells him not to blame her. She says that what is happening to Troy is not Helen's fault; it is the will of the gods.
  • Venus takes the mist away from Aeneas's sight so he can see various gods at work destroying the city.
  • Then Aeneas runs home, finds his father, and tells him to get ready: they're going to head for the hills!
21 of 87

Book 2 (9)

  • Creusa, Aeneas's wife, and Ascanius, his son, try to bring Anchises around, but he keeps refusing. Finally, Aeneas gathers his weapons in order to go out and die fighting. Creusa tells him to take her and Ascanius along with him.
  • Just then, flames burst out of Ascanius's head, but do not burn him.
  • Anchises prays for a sign from the gods, and suddenly a shooting star flashes overhead. Anchises accepts the sign and decides to go with Aeneas.
  • Now thinking of survival instead of suicide, Aeneas takes his father on his shoulders. He gives his father the images of the household gods to carry. Then he takes Ascanius by the hand.
  • After Aeneas tells some servants that they will meet up at a certain cypress tree by an inland gate of the city, they head off, with Creusa following behind.
  • In a moment of confusion, however, Aeneas ducks down some alleyways, and Creusa gets lost. Aeneas doesn't realize this until they get to the cypress tree.
  • He goes back alone through the flaming city, looking for her, but does not find her. Suddenly, her ghost appears and tells him that it is too late. She tells him to go to where the Tiber river flows (i.e., in Italy). There he will get a new kingdom – and a new wife.
  • Aeneas accepts Creusa's words and heads back to the cypress tree, where many refugees have now gathered. Together, they set out on their voyage.
22 of 87

Book 3 (1)

  • Aeneas and his followers take refuge beneath Mount Ida, in the neighborhood of Troy. There they set to work building a fleet.
  • When the summer rolls around, they sail off.
  • First they head for Thrace, a region once allied with Troy.
  • Aeneas plots out a settlement on the coast. Then he prepares to make a sacrifice.
  • But when he tries to pick some myrtle saplings to make a shelter for the altar, something strange happens: blood spurts out from the roots of the tree.
  • He tries again, and more blood spurts out.
  • Understandably freaked out, he makes some prayers. Then he tries for a third time.
  • This time, a voice speaks up from the ground, saying, "Hey! It's me, Polydorus, a Trojan. Some guys killed me with a bunch of spears, which then took root and turned into myrtle trees." What? You couldn't figure that out for yourself?
  • As it turns out, King Priam of Troy sent Polydorus to Thrace a while back with a shipment of gold. He was to give the gold to the king of Thrace for safekeeping while the Trojan war raged on. Unfortunately, the Thracian king decided to take the gold for himself, which is why he had Polydorus killed.
23 of 87

Book 3 (2)

  • After a brief consultation, Aeneas and the other leaders decide that this probably isn't the best place to start a new city.
  • Before sailing off, they hold funeral rites for Polydorus.
  • Next they sail to the island of Delos, where there is an oracle of the god Apollo.
  • The oracle tells them to go to the original home of the Trojan people. There they will found an empire that will rule the shores of the world for generations to come.
  • Cool. But where's the original home of the Trojan people? Aeneas's dad, Anchises, knows: "Many years ago," he explains, "a guy named Teucrus came from Crete. He sailed from there to Asia Minor, where he founded Troy. We should head for Crete."
  • Which is exactly where they go. And found a city. Sweet. Or…maybe not. The Trojans are only there for a little while when a plague strikes them and their crops and the sun dries up all the water. (Way to go, Dad.)
  • Anchises says that Aeneas should go back to Delos and ask the oracle for an explanation.
  • That night, while Aeneas is sleeping, the household gods start talking to him. They tell him to go to Italy, where anotherancestor of the Trojans – Dardanus, Teucrus's son-in-law – came from.
24 of 87

Book 3 (3)

  • The next day, Aeneas tells the prophecy to Anchises, who says, "You're right, my bad. Let's go to Italy."
  • And off they go. Things are going pretty well for a while, but then the fleet gets caught in three days of storms.
  • Eventually, they succeed in making their way to an island. What they don't know is that it is inhabited by the Harpies – disgusting flying bird creatures with the faces of women.
  • But all the Trojans see is all the livestock roaming the shore unattended. To them, this can mean only one thing: BBQ time!
  • Unfortunately, when they go ashore to grab some dinner, the harpies swoop in and defile the meat with their filthiness. The Trojans try to fight them, but they just fly away.
  • Then Celaeno, the queen Harpy tells them that they will make it to Italy alright, "but as for what you did to my livestock – your reward will be terrible hunger. In fact, you guys are going to get so hungry that you're going to end up eating your tables!" Yikes.
  • After making prayers to avert this calamity, the men set sail again, and eventually make it to the Leucas region of western Greece.
25 of 87

Book 3 (4)

  • They stay there for the winter, and then set sail again.
  • Next they come to Chaonia in Epirus – a region of Northwestern Greece.
  • Here they learn that Helenus, a son of the Trojan King Priam, has ended up ruling over some Greek cities. They also learn that he has married Andromache, who used to be the wife of the Trojan hero Hector (deceased).
  • On their way to find them, who should they run into but…Andromache herself, making sacrifice at a shrine she has made to her dead husband Hector.
  • Even though she faints when she sees them, when she wakes up she is full of information. She tells them that, after the fall of Troy, she was enslaved by Achilles's son Neoptolemus. But he soon got tired of her and took a Spartan woman, Hermione, for his wife.
  • At this point, he married her off to her fellow captive Trojan Helenus.
  • Then Agamemnon's son, Orestes, who was in love with Hermione, killed Neoptolemus; for some reasons that aren't entirely clear, Helenus inherited some land as a result of this, which is why he and Andromache have ended up as king and queen in this part of Epirus.
  • Then Helenus himself shows up. He leads them back to the city, which turns out to be a miniature replica of Troy.
26 of 87

Book 3 (5)

  • After they stay there for a few days, Aeneas asks Helenus – who has the gift of prophecy – to tell them what's in store for them.
  • Helenus makes some sacrifices, and then starts telling them a lot of cool stuff.
  • He says that, for the most part, things are looking good. Then he gives them a list of things to watch out for.
  • He also tells them that, whenever they see a giant white sow suckling 30 white piglets, they'll know that they've found their new homeland.
  • Then he gives them some more advice, and tells them to steer clear of the narrows between Sicily and mainland Italy – that's where Scylla and Charybdis lurk.
  • But Helenus still isn't finished. Now he tells them to keep praying to Juno – maybe they'll win her over eventually. Also, he says once they get to Italy, they should head for the town of Cumae. There, they should consult with the Sibyl, a priestess and oracle.
  • After this, Helenus gives them all gifts, with some special gifts for Anchises.
  • Andromache also gives them gifts, with special stuff for Ascanius, who reminds her of her dead son.
27 of 87

Book 3 (6)

  • Then the Trojans sail off. First they go to Ceraunia, further up the coast of Greece. From there, it's only a hop, skip, and a jump to the East coast of Italy. There they make a brief a pit stop, and then head off again.
  • They follow the coast of Italy south, and round the boot.
  • Soon afterward, they feel the sea getting choppy. Anchises realizes that they're close to Scylla and Charybdis. He tells them to head away from it.
  • They get away safely – but are headed to the island of the Cyclopes, better known as Sicily. 
  • The volcanic Mt. Aetna is rumbling nearby, making things all the more spooky.
  • They make camp and spend the night in the forest.
  • In the morning, an emaciated man comes up to them out of the mist.
  • It turns out he is a Greek named Achaemenides. Even though he is scared at first to fall in with a bunch of Trojans, he suddenly comes forward and throws himself at their mercy.
  • He tells them that if they kill him, it would be OK. "So long as I die at the hands of humans, it's no big deal."
  • It turns out that Achaemenides was a sailor from the fleet of Ulysses (a.k.a. Odysseus), who was left behind. He narrowly escaped from the Cyclops's lair, and has been hiding out in the forest for the past three months.
28 of 87

Book 3 (7)

  • He tells the Trojans to sail away from there like their life depends on it – which it does. He repeats that they can kill him if they want.
  • At this point, who should come galumphing down to the water but Polyphemus – the Cyclops Ulysses/Odysseus blinded!
  • Aeneas and his crew put the pedal to the metal – that is, the paddle to the puddle – and get away in the nick of time. They take Achaemenides with them.
  • Then they keep sailing around the south coast of Sicily.
  • When they stop at the city of Drepanum, tragedy strikes again: Aeneas's father Anchises dies.
  • After this, Aeneas and company make their way to Carthage. This is the end of Aeneas's story.
29 of 87

Book 4 (1)

  • If she had a bit of a crush on him before, now that Aeneas has finished his story, Dido totally has the hots for him.
  • The next morning, she confides in her sister, Anna. She says that even though she swore she would never love anyone after her dead husband, Sychaeus, she seriously wants to get with Aeneas. But she decides she can't do that.
  • Anna says, "What do the dead care if you're faithful or not? Anyway, Carthage is surrounded by enemies. We could use a strong alliance. At least get the Trojans to stay for the winter."
  • The days pass, and Dido becomes more and more in love. The city's building projects stall with no one to oversee them.
  • The goddess Juno, seeing what is going on, recognizes Venus's fingerprints all over it.
  • She takes the matter up with Venus, and suggests they get Dido and Aeneas to marry.
  • Venus – who knows that Juno wants to keep the Trojans down – says that they should maybe check with Jupiter first.
30 of 87

Book 4 (2)

  • Juno says, "Leave it to me. But first, let's do some matchmaking. Soon, Dido and Aeneas are going to go out hunting. While they're out there, I'll whip up some rain, so they will have to take shelter together in a cave. Then we'll put on some Barry White – or the equivalent – and wait for the magic to happen."
  • Things go according to plan, the magic happens, and Dido begins to see herself and Aeneas as married. (Notice a certain lack of symmetry?)
  • But Rumor – described as a weird winged goddess with as many eyes and tongues as feathers – can't pass up a juicy story like that.
  • Eventually, word makes its way to the North African king Iarbas, whose father is Jupiter, and who was once rejected by Dido.
  • Iarbas doesn't like this one bit, and complains to his daddy about it.
  • Hearing his son's complaint, Jupiter takes a good look at what is going on down in Carthage. Then he sends the god Mercury to go and ask Aeneas, "What's the deal?" and remind him that he's supposed to be founding a city in Italy.
  • Mercury heads down and finds Aeneas supervising the construction of Carthage's walls, all the while sporting some fancy-pants Carthaginian duds.
  • Mercury passes along Jupiter's message, and tells Aeneas to think about his son Ascanius, and what sort of legacy he is going to leave him.
31 of 87

Book 4 (3)

  • Then Mercury flies off, leaving Aeneas to say, "Dang." He tells the other Trojans to get the fleet ready for departure.
  • He tries to keep the preparations secret, but Dido gets wind of it and becomes royally angry.
  • When she confronts Aeneas about it, Aeneas is like, "OK. It's true, I am leaving. But we're not married, and I've got to go found a city in Italy. My dad keeps appearing to me in my dreams and pestering me about it; I've got to leave a legacy for Ascanius; and now the messenger of the gods has told me to get a move on. It's not my fault."
  • As you might expect, Dido doesn't take this too well. In fact, she tells him to get lost – and that she hopes his ship sinks.
  • Then Dido runs off and faints; her maids carry her back to her bedroom.
  • The Trojans keep getting ready to set sail.
  • When Dido comes to, she sees them, and tells her sister Anna to go and tell them to wait for better winds at least.
  • Anna goes and tells him, but Aeneas won't listen.
  • Dido then gets troubled by a bunch of weird happenings. For example, water blackens on her altars, and wine turns to blood. Voices seem to arise from the shrine of her dead husband.
32 of 87

Book 4 (4)

  • It seems that everything is going to Hades in a hand basket. Dido decides to commit suicide. Dido tells Anna to prepare a pyre, claiming she only wants it to burn some things that Aeneas has left behind.
  • That night, Dido ponders again what she should do. She considers following the Trojans, but decides against it. She reaffirms to herself her intention to commit suicide. Now she is also motivated by guilt at having been unfaithful to the memory of Sychaeus.
  • Meanwhile, Aeneas is sleeping on the stern of his beached ship. Mercury comes down and tells him, in a dream, to get a move on. Aeneas wakes up, tells the other Trojans to sail out. They do. Then Dido wakes up and sees the Trojans leaving. She wishes she had killed Aeneas when she had the chance.
  • She prays that his mission will fail, and this her people and his will become enemies. (We know from subsequent Roman history – i.e., the Punic Wars – that her wish will come true.) Then Dido sends her sister's old nurse to tell Anna to get a pyre ready; she claims that she wants to burn some stuff that Aeneas left behind. After Anna builds the pyre, Dido climbs on top of it and stabs herself with a sword once given to her by Aeneas. Anna climbs onto the pyre herself and tries to save the dying Dido, but it is too late. Juno sends down Iris, the messenger of the gods, to take a lock of Dido's hair and prepare her for death. Iris does this, and Dido dies.
33 of 87

Book 5 (1)

  • As they are sailing away, the Trojans see a huge fire burning on the shore. They can guess what it is coming from. (Dido's funeral pyre.)
  • Shortly afterward – as seems to happen whenever the Trojans set out anywhere – a storm comes up, and they decide to head for shore.
  • They land in Sicily, coincidentally, at exactly the spot where they buried Anchises – coincidentally again, exactly one year before. This is in the region of Sicily ruled by Acestes, another exile from Troy.
  • Aeneas decrees a feast day and ritual commemoration of his father. He also says that in nine days they will hold athletic contests in the man's honor.
  • Then, while Aeneas is making ritual offerings to his father, something weird happens: a giant snake crawls out of the Anchises's burial mound and curls up around it. Then it slithers around all the ritual objects, eats off the altar, and then heads back under the tomb.
  • Aeneas wonders if the snake is a local god, or if it is the spirit of his father. He proceeds with the sacrifice anyway.
  • When the ninth day after that rolls around, it is time for some athletic contests. Both Trojans and local Sicilians are competing.
34 of 87

Book 5 (2)

  • The first event is a boat-race. The idea is for the competitors – teams of rowers in long galleys – to sail out to sea, round a certain half-submerged rock designated as the turning post, and then be the first to make it back to shore. Four ships are competing.
  • On the way out, the ship commanded by a man called Gyas is in the lead. He keeps telling his pilot (the guy who mans the tiller) to come in close around the rock, but Menoetes (that's the guy's name) is afraid of crashing, and makes a wide turn.
  • This gives Cloanthus, the captain of the next ship, to squeeze in between Gyas and the rock, making a sharper turn that puts him in the lead for the homestretch.
  • Gyas is so mad that he throws Menoetes overboard and takes the tiller himself. Menoetes swims over to the rock and climbs on top of it.
  • The two ships in the rear are commanded by guys named Sergestus and Mnestheus.
  • Sergestus is in front – until he gets greedy, tries to cut the turn too close, and smashes up his oars against the rock. Mnestheus rounds the turn ahead of him.
  • Next Mnestheus passes Gyas, who is having trouble acting as captain and pilot at the same time.
35 of 87

Book 5 (6)

  • Now Mnestheus and Cloanthus are competing for first place.
  • Cloanthus prays to the sea-gods for help. Sure enough, a bunch of divinities show up to help him on his way to victory.
  • Cloanthus comes in first, followed by Mnestheus, with Gyas coming after him, and Sergestus bringing up the rear in his disabled craft.
  • Aeneas gives prizes to each of them.
  • The next event is a footrace. It looks like a guy called Nisus is going to win it, but then he slips in some blood and guts left over from one of the sacrificial animals.
  • When he falls, he makes sure to trip up the guy behind him, so his boyfriend Euryalus can speed ahead to victory.
  • After the race, the guy tripped up by Nisus demands a consolation prize. So does Nisus. Aeneas obliges both of them.
  • Next comes boxing. The first challenger to stand up is a Trojan guy named Dares.
  • For a long time, nobody has the guts to take him on, but then, after some prodding, a Sicilian old-timer named Entellus steps up.
  • The fight goes on pretty evenly at first, though then Entellus puts all his weight into a punch he fails to land, and falls right on his face.
  • King Acestes comes and helps him up.
36 of 87

Book 5 (7)

  • The fight goes on, however, and now that Entellus's pride has been hurt he starts giving Dares a royal thumping. Eventually, Aeneas steps in to stop the fight.
  • As a pretext, he tells everyone that the gods must be supporting Entellus, and that their will must be followed. (Though we haven't seen any indication that the gods were helping him.)
  • When Entellus claims his prize, a bull, to prove he's still got it he punches the creature between the horns, shattering its skull, killing it.
  • Next comes the archery contest. Aeneas raises the mast of a ship on the plain. To the top is tethered a bird, which flaps around helplessly. The idea is to shoot the bird. (Between this contest and Entellus's bull-bashing, it's clear that the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals would have had a field-day with the ancient Trojans.)
  • A guy called Hippocoön shoots first. He hits the mast, but misses the bird.
  • Next, Mnestheus shoots. He misses the bird, but cuts the cord. The bird flutters away.
  • Now it is Eurytion's turn. He is the brother of Pandarus, a famous Trojan archer who died in the war against the Greeks. After saying a prayer to the spirit of his brother, Eurytion takes aim, shoots, and hits the escaping bird.
37 of 87

Book 5 (8)

  • Last up is the Sicilian King Acestes, who now has nothing to shoot at. Just to prove he still has strength in him, he shoots an arrow into the air. In mid-flight, the arrow catches fire and turns into a shooting star.
  • Aeneas gives Acestes first prize. Second prize goes to Eurytion, third to Mnestheus, and fourth to Hippocoön.
  • Next, the youth take part in a display of cavalry maneuvers.
  • Then things take a turn for the worse. Determined to stir up trouble, Juno sends Iris, the messenger of the gods, down to where the Trojan women are gathered on the shore. There, they are lamenting the journeys that await them.
  • Iris takes the form of a Trojan woman, Beroe. In this disguise, she plays to the women's discontent, and tells them to burn the ships. She adds that Cassandra appeared to her in a dream, and instructed her to do so.
  • Then Iris hurls a torch at one of the ships.
  • One of the Trojan women, Pyrgo, shouts out that the woman standing before them can't be Beroe, who is sick – it has to be a goddess!
  • If there was any doubt about that, it vanishes when Iris springs back up to the heavens.
  • Although the women are at first confused about what to do, it isn't long before they start burning the ships.
38 of 87

Book 5 (9)

  • When word reaches the men, Ascanius is the first to rush back to the shore, on horseback. The others come hurrying after.
  • The women, ashamed of what they have done, disperse, but it is too late: the ships are ablaze.
  • In desperation, Aeneas prays to Jupiter: "Either save the ships or strike me dead with a lightning bolt." Jupiter sends a storm and the rain quenches the fires. All but four ships are saved.
  • After this disturbing incident, Aeneas is confused about what to do.
  • Nantes, a wise old Trojan, suggests that they should leave behind in Sicily the number of people the burned ships would have carried. They can leave the women and the old, who can found a new city in Sicily.
  • Aeneas isn't sure about this, but then, in the sky, he sees an image of Anchises. The image tells him to follow Nantes's plan.
  • It says that a difficult war awaits them in Italy, meaning they should take only their toughest warriors.
  • Also, it says that, upon arriving in Italy, he will first have to visit the underworld, where he will learn the future of his people. He will also see his father's spirit, which is in Elysium, the abode of the blessed, not Tartarus, the black pit where the souls of evil men go.
39 of 87

Book 5 (10)

  • Then the apparition vanishes.
  • The next day, Aeneas takes up the proposal with Acestes, who is fine with letting the Trojans stay in his land. They make up a list of everyone who is staying behind, and Aeneas plots out their new city. (This guy's a serious control-freak.)
  • A few days later, after much feasting together, Aeneas and the remaining ships head out. At this point, Venus, who has been watching everything, turns to Neptune and asks that Aeneas be granted safe passage to Italy.
  • Neptune says that Aeneas will get there safely, only losing one man. Then he calms the sea. That night, after a day of calm sailing, the rowers are relaxing on their benches. Palinurus, the pilot, is still awake, making sure everything is running smoothly.
  • Then, all of a sudden, Somnus, the god of sleep, descends from the heavens and takes the form of Phorbas, another Trojan. In this disguise, he tries to convince Palinurus to go to sleep.
40 of 87

Book 5 (11)

  • Palinurus says, "No way, I've got to keep my eyes on the road. It's pretty wet, after all."
  • But then the god shakes some dew off the magical bough he carries in his hand. This dew, from the River Lethe in the underworld, makes Palinurus incredibly sleepy.
  • Finally, Palinurus tumbles overboard, breaking off a piece of the stern and rudder and taking them with him. He calls for help but no one hears him.
  • The ship sails on, and a little while later is passing by the rocks where the Sirens hang out.
  • Aeneas hears the surf breaking off the rocks, and takes the helm. He laments the loss of his friend, but blames him for trusting too much in a calm sea.
41 of 87

Book 6 (1)

  • Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet? SIMMER DOWN ALREADY. Yes. Aeneas arrives in Italy.
  • Like many a globetrotter after him, Aeneas's first visit is to the local tourist office – meaning, of course, the cave of the Sibyl, a prophetess who owes her power to the god Apollo.
  • When Aeneas arrives at her temple, which was built by the famous inventor Daedalus 
  • He spends some time admiring the doors of the temple, also built by Daedalus. These depict various mythological scenes. Something they don't depict is the death of Daedalus's son Icarus. Virgil tells us that Daedalus twice tried to fashion a depiction of his death in gold, but both times was overcome by emotion.
  • Then out of the temple comes Achates, who had gone ahead, with the Sibyl.
  • The Sibyl tells him stop admiring the doors and sacrifice seven young bulls and seven ewes. Aeneas passes along the orders to his men to make it happen.
  • Then, the Sibyl takes them into her inner shrine. There, she becomes possessed by the god Apollo, and instructs Aeneas to pray.
42 of 87

Book 6 (2)

  • After that, the Sibyl busts out some prophecies. Specifically, she says that things are going be tough: they will have to fight a war to secure their territory in Italy. She predicts that a new Achilles will arise in the territory of Latium. (Achilles was the greatest of the Greek warriors fighting against Troy in the Trojan War.)
  • The Sibyl then says that the war will arise as a result of a foreign bride. She says that the Trojans will find safety from an unexpected source: a Greek city. (If this all sounds kind of weird, don't worry, prophecies are supposed to sound weird.)
  • After receiving this prophecy, Aeneas prays to be allowed to descend to the underworld, so that he can visit his father.
  • The Sibyl says that the way down to the underworld is easy, it's coming back out that's the tricky part.
  • She says that Aeneas must go deep into the forest and, in darkest and most secluded part, find a tree sprouting a golden bough. He must pluck this bough and bring it as a gift to Proserpina, the queen of the underworld. She says that only those who are fated to can pluck the bough: it won't come off for those who try to force it.
43 of 87

Book 6 (3)

  • But then the Sibyl reveals a snag. She says that the Trojans have become defiled and have to purify themselves. This is because one of their number has died and remains unburied. The Sibyl says they have to find out who it is, bury him, and then sacrifice some black animals. Then Aeneas can go down to the underworld.
  • You might have thought that the unburied dead guy was Palinurus, but actually it's some guy named Misenus. He had apparently made the mistake of thinking he was better at blowing his conch shell than the sea god Triton. Gods don't take kindly to that sort of boast, and Triton's response was to drown Misenus in the surf.
  • While the Trojans start building a pyre for Misenus, Aeneas prays for a sign that the Sibyl's other predictions will come true, just like this one did. Venus sends down two doves, reassuring Aeneas.
  • Then Aeneas asks to be shown where the golden bough is. The doves fly off and he follows. Eventually, they lead him to the spot.
  • Aeneas is totally excited, and breaks the bough off the tree. We are told that it "clung" to the tree a bit. Does this mean that Aeneas is acting against fate? Generations of scholars haven't been able to give a conclusive answer. (That's your cue to have at it!)
44 of 87

Book 6 (4)

  • Now armed with the golden bough, Aeneas follows the Sibyl down into the underworld, where they immediately encounter a lot of freaky stuff.
  • Then they come to the banks of the River Styx, where a crowd of souls has assembled, waiting to be ferried across by Charon, the boatman of the underworld.
  • The Sibyl explains that only those who have been buried can cross; those who haven't been must first wait a hundred years on the Styx's banks.
  • At this point, Aeneas catches sight of his lost pilot, Palinurus – now one of the unburied dead crowding the bank, denied passage.
  • Aeneas asks Palinurus if Apollo's oracle had lied, and some god had killed him.
  • Palinurus says, "No, no god killed me. The rudder broke while I was leaning on it, and I fell into the water. Then I swam ashore, but some locals killed me."
  • Then Palinurus asks Aeneas to bury him. "Or," he says, "take me across with you."
  • But then the Sibyl cuts him off, saying, "You know that we can't take you. Anyhow, some other locals are going to bury your body soon enough – and then they are going to name that cape of land after you." Palinurus is satisfied with this response.
45 of 87

Book 6 (5)

  • Then up paddles Charon, the ferryman, and addresses Aeneas and the Sibyl as follows: "Whaddaya want?"
  • The Sibyl explains that Aeneas is just going to see his dad. Then she reveals the golden bough.
  • That does the trick, and Charon takes them across.
  • Once they get to the other side, Aeneas and the Sibyl see various dead people.
  • Aeneas sees Dido, and approaches her. He tells her he is sorry, and how it wasn't his fault for leaving her: he was only doing the gods' bidding, just as he is now.
  • But Dido doesn't listen to him. Instead, without a word, she runs off to join the shade of her dead husband, Sychaeus.
  • Next Aeneas sees some dead Trojan warriors – plus some Greeks, who scatter when he approaches.
  • Then he catches sight of Deiphobus, a Trojan warrior. His face shows that he has been cruelly mutilated.
  • Deiphobus, who had married Helen after the death of Paris, says that his wife is to blame. During the fall of Troy, she let her former husband, Menelaus, and Ulysses into their bedroom, and the two of them went at him.
46 of 87

Book 6 (6)

  • He asks what Aeneas is doing there, but before he can answer, the Sibyl taps her watch (OK, points to the sky) and says that they've got to get a move on.
  • Deiphobus says, "That's cool. Peace out."
  • Then Aeneas and the Sibyl come to a place where the road forks. The path on the left leads to Tartarus, the black pit of hell. The one on the right leads toward Elysium, where the blessed go.
  • The Sibyl tells Aeneas about the horrible torments suffered by the souls in Tartarus.
  • Then she tells him again to hurry up. They go to the gates of Proserpina's palace where, after performing a cleansing ritual, he leaves the golden bough.
  • After that, he and the Sibyl head to Elysium – the ultimate chill-out zone, a.k.a. Club Dead.
  • They go up to Musaeus, an ancient singer and poet, and ask where Anchises is. Musaeus directs him to the spot. There they find Anchises watching the souls preparing for rebirth.
  • Aeneas and Anchises share a tearful reunion.
  • Then Aeneas catches sight of the thousands of souls crowding around a nearby river. He asks Anchises, "What gives?"
47 of 87

Book 6 (7)

  • Anchises says that these are souls waiting to be reborn. They are drinking from the River Lethe, whose waters will wipe clean their memory of their previous lives.
  • Aeneas says, "Why would they want to live again?"
  • That's Anchises's cue to have a fatherly talk with Aeneas (a super-special fatherly talk, since Anchises is now dead and knows the secrets of the universe).
  • Anchises explains that everything that exists – including things like the sky, the land, the water, the moon, sun, and stars, as well as living creatures – is permeated with Spirit.
  • This Spirit occasionally becomes part of living things. When this happens, though, the body pollutes the spirit and clouds its vision.
  • Even in death, the spirit retains traces of its old life. As a result, the souls of the dead must spend a good deal of time (sometimes up to a thousand years) being purified (sometimes involving torments), so that they can regain clear vision. (Those who were especially pure in life – like Anchises – get to chill out in Elysium.)
  • Then, when the time comes, the soul of the dead man drinks from the waters of Lethe and enters a new body.
48 of 87

Book 6 (8)

  • Anchises shows Aeneas some of the people waiting to be reborn. These include many future leaders of Rome.
  • First Anchises points out a bunch of Aeneas's immediate descendents. Then he points out members of the Julian dynasty, culminating in Caesar Augustus (the first Roman emperor).
  • Then they see various other figures from Roman history, last of whom is Marcellus, who looks a little under the weather. Marcellus was Augustus's nephew, son-in-law, and prospective heir; Anchises explains that he looks glum because he is destined to die young, without fulfilling his promise.
  • After this who's-who session, Anchises shows Aeneas a bunch of other cool stuff, including glimpses of the future. This gets Aeneas all fired up for the rest of his mission.
  • But now it's time to wrap things up. Anchises takes Aeneas to the exit of the Underworld: the Gates of Sleep. There are two gates, to be precise. One, made of horn, is the gate from which "true shades" Emerge. The other is made of ivory; through it, "false dreams" make their way to mankind.
  • Aeneas and the Sibyl leave through the ivory gate of false dreams. Why? That's a million dollar question. Unfortunately, we don't have a million dollars to give you.
49 of 87

Book 7 (1)

  • The Trojans hold a funeral for Aeneas's nurse, Caieta, who died apparently.
  • Then, when the sea is calm, they set out. The moon is bright, so they can sail easily by night.
  • As they approach the island of the sorceress Circe (of Odysseyfame), they hear the sounds of wild animals. These used to be human beings, before they were transformed by Circe's power. Neptune sends the Trojans a favorable breeze so that they can pass by her island safely.
  • When dawn comes up, Aeneas catches sight of a forest on the distant shoreline. There, a river (the Tiber – though they don't know that yet) is spilling into the sea. Also, a lot of pretty birds are flapping around. Aeneas decides to head for land.
  • Then Virgil calls on the Muse to help him set the scene of what was going on in Latium (the area around Rome) at that time.
  • The king of Latium at the time of Aeneas's arrival is – you guessed it – Latinus.
  • Latinus has grown old by now, and has a major problem. That's right, he has not produced any male heir. All he has is one daughter, Lavinia.
  • As you can imagine, all of the most eligible bachelors of the region are competing for her hand. Of these, the most handsome is Turnus, whom Latinus's wife, Amata, thinks is perfect for their daughter.
50 of 87

Book 7 (2)

  • The problem is that lots of weird omens have made Latinus uncertain about the match. Finally, he consulted the most prestigious oracle in the region, a holy waterfall. It told him that his daughter was destined to marry a foreigner, and that their descendents would rule the world. The upshot of this was that marriage with Turnus was out of the question.
  • Latinus couldn't keep a secret like that under wraps. By the time Aeneas's men land, the whole region knows about the prophecy.
  • Once Aeneas and company have unloaded their stuff on the shore, they chow down on some pizza. Well, at least it sounds like pizza to us – as Fitzgerald translates: "They made a feast, / Putting out on the grass hard wheaten cakes / As platters for their meal." (Mmm, pizza.)
  • Instead of just picking the toppings off, they swallow them crust and all. This is amazing enough that Ascanius shouts out (once again, in Fitzgerald's translation): "Look, how we've devoured our tables even!"
  • As you might remember, this fulfills the prophecy of Celaeno the Harpy from Book 3: that the Trojans wouldn't be safe until their hunger had reduced them to gnawing on their tables.
51 of 87

Book 7 (3)

  • Aeneas immediately recognizes the sign, and tells his companions that this is their destined homeland. For some reason, he also tells them that this was based off a prophecy his father told him, not the Harpy Celaeno. (Continuity mistake or deliberate confusion? You decide.)
  • Then they have an awesome festival for the gods, and Jupiter thunders jovially in response.
  • The next day they go out exploring, and Aeneas sends emissaries to King Latinus.
  • In the meantime, he starts building a fortress for his men – just in case things turn ugly.
  • When the emissaries reach Latinus, he tells them that he knows who they are. He also says that his own people are descended from the god Saturn and are naturally just. Then he shows that he knows the tale of Dardanus, an ancient ancestor of the Trojans, who came from Italy (we learned about him in Book 3).
  • In response, the Trojan envoys explain how they are descended from Dardanus and have come to Italy on a mission from the gods. They ask permission to settle on the coast, and offer Latinus gifts of friendship.
  • After thinking it over, Latinus says that he will accept the offer. Not only this, but he also reveals the prophecy that his daughter must marry a foreigner. He says that Aeneas is the man.
52 of 87

Book 7 (4)

  • Then Latinus sends them back with some new horses – plus a nifty half-immortal horse to deliver to Aeneas.
  • Everything seems to be going pretty smoothly. Too smoothly…but wait! Who should be making her way across the sky at that very moment? Why, it's a bird-of-prey! It's a bomber plane! It's…Juno!
  • She doesn't like what she sees. Even though she knows that Aeneas has fate on his side, she determines to make things difficult for him. She decides to start a war between the Trojans and the Latins.
  • To do this, she goes down to Hades and arouses Allecto, a terrible Fury (the name is pretty self-explanatory – these were spirits of vengeance, but could be called upon to perform other dirty work as well).
  • Sure enough, Allecto heads for the palace of Latinus and straightaway seeks out Amata, Latinus's wife, and the mother of Lavinia.
  • Allecto plucks one of the snakes that grow out of her head instead of hair and throws it at Amata. Invisibly, it makes its way inside her body and infects her with hatred.
  • First she pleads her case to Latinus, telling him not to let Aeneas marry their daughter. But he doesn't listen.
  • So she takes her daughter and runs off into the woods, where she lives as a Bacchante – a devotee of Bacchus, the god of drunkenness and ecstasy
53 of 87

Book 7 (5)

  • As word travels around the region about Amata's crazy new lifestyle, many women decide to go and join her in the mountains.
  • One day, standing among the other Bacchantes and holding a burning pine torch, Amata sings a wedding hymn for Turnus and Lavinia. Then she incites the other women to join in her crazed revelry.
  • Meanwhile, Allecto makes her way to the town of the Rutulians – the people of Turnus.
  • She finds Turnus in his bedroom and appears to him in the form of an old woman. In this shape, she tells him that he's a chicken for letting his prospective bride get away from him. She says he should go make war against the Trojans but keep peace with the Latins.
  • Turnus says, "Oh don't worry. I'm going to settle it. But you mind your own business, old lady. Leave making war to us men."
  • The Fury doesn't like his tone. She becomes enraged, pulls two snakes out of her head and starts cracking them like a whip. Then she hurls a torch at Turnus.
  • He wakes up in a fright – and is the only one there. In a frenzy, he immediately decides upon war with the Trojans, and instructs his soldiers to march toward King Latinus's capital. The other Rutulians are cool with that.
54 of 87

Book 7 (8)

  • Then Allecto makes her way over to the Trojans, where Ascanius is hunting.
  • She puts his hounds on the scent of a deer. What the hounds – and Ascanius – don't know is that this deer has been domesticated by Tyrrhus, the warden of King Latinus's estates.
  • After Ascanius shoots the deer with his arrow and it runs, mortally wounded, back to its house, a huge battle erupts between the Trojans and the Latin herdsmen and their associates. Some people get killed.
  • Allecto heads up to Juno to report on a job well done. Juno says she can take it from there and sends Allecto back down to Hades.
  • By this point the battle has broken up between the Latin shepherds and the Trojans. The Latins return to their city with their dead.
  • Turnus is in the city now, and he fires up the crowd, telling them of Latinus's plans to marry Lavinia off to a Trojan. He says that they should prefer him, someone from their own region.
  • All those whose relatives have joined Amata in her wild revelry in the woods are the first to join in the call for war.
  • King Latinus refuses to give in, but is unable to stop his citizens' frenzy. He predicts that the people and Turnus will be punished for acting against the will of the gods.
55 of 87

Book 7 (9)

  • The Latins, Virgil tells us, just like the Roman of his own day, have a custom that, whenever war is declared, they open a pair of ceremonial gates locked with a hundred bolts. The people call upon Latinus to open these gates but he refuses.
  • So Juno comes down and opens them herself.
  • Now, throughout the Italian countryside, men prepare for war against the Trojans.
  • Then, in an echo of Homer, Virgil calls upon the Muses to help him list the warriors on the Italian side.
  • Most notable among them are Mezentius of Tuscany, "who held the gods in scorn"; his son, Lausus, the most handsome man in Italy except for Turnus; Turnus himself, in an impressive suit of armor; and, last but far from least, the fearsome female warrior Camilla, who is so fast that she could run over the top of a wheat field without crushing the stalks, or over the top of the sea.
56 of 87

Book 8 (1)

  • Turnus and his allies are having huge success rounding up local recruits against the foreign invaders. They also send out emissaries to the Greek hero Diomedes (famous from Homer'sIliad), trying to convince him to take up the fight against his old enemies, the Trojans.
  • Aeneas has a pretty good idea of what's going on, and is deep in thought about what to do about it. All that thinking makes him tired, though, and so he falls asleep.
  • In his sleep, Aeneas sees Tiberinus – the god of the River Tiber – appear before him.
  • Tiberinus tells him that the gods aren't mad at him anymore, and that he shouldn't be afraid of the war to come.
  • Then he says, "In case you think this is only a dream, you're going to find under some trees by the shore a white sow nursing thirty piglets; this will mean that after thirty years Ascanius will found a city called Alba" (Echo of prophecy bk 3)
  • Next, Tiberinus gives Aeneas some helpful advice. He tells him to go to the nearby kingdom of the Arcadians – a Greek tribe – ruled by a dude named Evander. He says that these guys are always at war with the Latins; Aeneas should bring them on his side.
57 of 87

Book 8 (2)

  • Finally, he tells Aeneas to pray to Juno, to try to win her over. (Fat chance.)
  • Aeneas wakes up, gives thanks to the god, and then orders his men to make ready two ships.
  • But just then, he catches sight of the white sow and her litter…and decides to sacrifice them to Juno. (Sorry, animal lovers.)
  • Then Tiberinus makes the waters of the River Tiber perfectly still, so the ships can sail easily to the settlement of the Arcadians.
  • The Arcadians are making sacrifice to Hercules; when they see the Trojans arrive, King Evander's son Pallas runs down to ask them who they are.
  • Aeneas explains his mission and Pallas invites them to dine with his family that night.
  • Then Aeneas approaches Evander and says, "I know you're Greek and I'm Trojan, but hey; your people and ours are connected by some fancy-shmancy genealogical stuff from way back. Anyway, we've got a common enemy now: the Latins. Let's make war on them together."
  • Evander says, "No worries. I met King Priam once. He was a cool guy. When you leave tomorrow, I'll give you some troops. But as for right now, it's party time."
58 of 87

Book 8 (3)

  • After they are done eating a succulent feast on the grass, Evander points to a collapsed cave on the side of a nearby mountain, and starts telling them all a story.
  • It turns out that it used to be inhabited by a half-beast half-man guy named Cacus. His name means "Bad" in Greek, and he sure lived up to it, killing lots of people and walking around belching fire. (The last part is because his dad was Vulcan, the god of fire.)
  • Then Evander explains that Hercules came and kicked Cacus's ****. In the process, he ripped out the side of the mountain, because Cacus was hiding inside. That's why the Arcadians now worship Hercules as their special god.
  • When the feast is done, they continue their rituals. The Salii, a certain class of priest, come in and start dancing and worship Hercules. They then sing a song about the hero.
  • After dinner, they walk back to the city. Evander walks with Aeneas and tells him about how the land used to be in ancient times, before generations of people screwed it all up.
  • Then he shows them various sites – sacred grottoes and the like – that Virgil explains will be important in later Roman history and myth.
59 of 87

Book 8 (4)

  • When they get to Evander's settlement – the future site of Rome – the King tells Aeneas to make himself at home in his humble surroundings. He does, and goes to sleep.
  • Meanwhile, Venus, lying in bed beside her husband Vulcan, is troubled by what's going on. Putting on her most seductive voice, she convinces him to make some nifty armor for Aeneas.
  • Then Vulcan gets it on with Venus, gets a little shut-eye, gets up, and gets to work.
  • In the meantime, morning rolls around, and Evander wakes up and heads outside, accompanied by his son, Pallas. He finds Aeneas, accompanied by Achates, and they sit down for a conversation.
  • Evander tells Aeneas that the Arcadians themselves are not going to be strong enough allies against Turnus and company.
  • He says, though that the nearby Etrurians might be able to help. They were once ruled tyrannically by Mezentius – now an ally of Turnus – until they kicked him out.
  • There are thousands of them ready for action, only they are held back by a sign that says they should only go to war under a foreign commander. (Hint, hint?)
60 of 87

Book 8 (5)

  • Evander says that Aeneas should command the Etrurians, plus a contingent of Arcadians. He also says that he is going to send his son, Pallas, along with him, so he can learn the ways of war.
  • Evander and Aeneas now make the proper sacrifices, and get things in order. Some riders are going to get the Etrurians; a ship is heading back down the Tiber to let Ascanius know what's up, and Aeneas is choosing followers from among the Arcadians.
  • Before they head out, Evander takes Pallas aside and tells him how he wishes he were young and could go in his stead. He prays to the gods to protect him.
  • Then they ride out.
  • On their way, they are met by Venus, who approaches Aeneas and gives him the weapons made by Vulcan.
  • Aeneas admires the armor, especially the shield, on which Vulcan has fashioned many scenes from future Roman history.
  • These include scenes from right before the time when Virgil was writing – such as of Caesar Augustus's defeat of the allied forces of Marc Antony and Cleopatra.
  • Even though he doesn't know what they mean, Aeneas likes the pretty pictures, and picks up the shield.
61 of 87

Book 9 (1)

  • Juno sends Iris down to Turnus to tell him that it's wartime.
  • Turnus gets his men in order and marches out.
  • Soon enough, from their fort, the Trojans (minus Aeneas, who is still chilling out with Evander) see the Italian forces coming.
  • When Turnus arrives, he immediately rides around the fort, looking for a way in. He can't find one, so he decides to lure the Trojans out. How, you ask? By burning their ships!
  • Virgil asks the gods which one of them saved the ships. The answer to this comes in a flashback.
  • It turns out that, around the time when Aeneas and company first left Troy, the earth goddess Cybele – here portrayed as the mother of Jupiter – asked her son to keep Aeneas's ships safe forever.
  • You see, he had built the ships from a forest that Cybele especially cherished, so she wanted to ensure them some sort of lasting survival even if they had already, you know, been chopped down and turned into masts and stuff.
  • Jupiter said, "No can do, mom. But here's what: once they've finished their journey, I'll let them turn into goddesses."
  • Yup, you heard it right, goddesses. And the moment is now. 
62 of 87

Book 9 (2)

  • Just when Turnus and company start putting torches to them, the Trojan fleet turns into beautiful women and runs away into the sea. Pretty awesome, huh?
  • We sure think so – and so does Turnus, who seems to realize that this sort of happening could seriously discourage his men from attacking the Trojans.
  • Luckily, like many a leader to follow him, Turnus is the master of spin. He tells his men that this is a sign that the gods want to prevent the Trojans from escaping.
  • After taunting the Trojans, Turnus declares an end to fighting for the day, and lets his troops have supper.
  • Meanwhile, the warriors Nisus and his boyfriend Euryalus are on guard in the Trojan camp.
  • Nisus says he is thinking of going out on a mission to find Aeneas and bring him back. Euryalus says, "Take me too." Nisus says, "No way. I need someone to bury in case I die." But then Euryalus says, "Tough luck. I'm coming."
  • Nisus and Euryalus report their plan to the Trojan council. These guys are all pleased with the plan, and Ascanius promises them a lot of cool stuff in case they succeed.
  • Euryalus says, "Just take care of my mom in case I don't come back."
  • They reach the Italian camp and kill a bunch of men in their sleep.
63 of 87

Book 9 (3)

  • Then they keep going on their way – though Euryalus makes sure to steal a dead guy's helmet as booty first.
  • This seals his fate – and that of his lover. In no time, a troop of Latin cavalry rides past and Euryalus's flashing helmet grabs their attention. The cavalrymen shout at the Trojans, who flee into the woods.
  • The Latins surround the wood, but Nisus gets out. When he realizes that Euryalus was left behind, he heads back to save him.
  • He finds Euryalus getting attacked by a whole bunch of Latins.
  • After debating what to do, Nisus says a quick prayer and throws his spear. He kills one man. Then he throws another spear and kills another one.
  • Then Volcens, a Latin, decides enough is enough and makes a move to kill Euryalus. Nisus, in desperation, shouts out from his hiding place, trying to distract his enemy. But it's too late. Volcens stabs Euryalus, killing him.
  • Enraged, Nisus runs into the thick of his opponents. He succeeds in killing Volcens, but dies at the hands of the other Latins.
  • The Latins carry Volcens back to the Italian camp – plus the bodies of the dead Nisus and Euryalus. Once they arrive there, the Italians lament the deaths of their own men whom the Trojan pair slaughtered in their sleep.
64 of 87

Book 9 (4)

  • When the morning comes, Turnus gets his men into fighting order. Then they march on the Trojan fort, carrying Nisus and Euryalus's heads on top of spears.
  • When the Trojans catch sight of their dead comrades, they begin weeping. Soon, rumor of what has happened makes its way to Euryalus's mom, who comes out to the battlement and is overcome with grief.
  • Turnus's men attack the Trojan ramparts in a mass, interlocking their shields in a tortoise formation. They are driven back.
  • After some more fighting, Turnus throws a torch and sets one of the Trojans' towers on fire. Eventually it collapses. There are only two survivors: Helenor, who launches himself at the Italians and is immediately killed, and Lycus, who tries to climb back into the Trojan camp over its wall.
  • Turnus catches him and pulls him down; he rips off some of the wall in the process. The fight keeps going on.
  • Then a guy called Numanus steps forward and taunts the Trojans, calling them women. Ascanius prays to Jupiter, who thunders on the left side of the sky. Then he shoots Numanus through the head. This is the first man he has ever killed in combat.
65 of 87

Book 9 (5)

  • For this deed, the god Apollo (who is himself an archer) praises him. Then he comes down and stands beside him in the shape of Butes, an old Trojan. In this disguise, he tells him that Apollo is cool with what he did, but that he should stay out of the fight from now on.
  • Then Apollo shoots back up to heaven, and everyone recognizes that it was a god that addressed Ascanius. The Trojan keep Ascanius out of the battle that still rages on.
  • Now, two Trojans, Pandarus and Bitias, open a gate and dare their enemies to come in. The Italians storm the entrance, but are pushed back.
  • Then Turnus comes along and kills various guys, including Bitias.
  • Seeing his brother killed, Pandarus shuts the gate – and shuts in Turnus! The Rutulian warrior is all alone.
  • Undaunted, he dares anyone to come and fight him, boasting that he is a new Achilles come to plague the Trojans.
  • Someone throws a spear at Turnus, but Juno deflects it.
  • Then Turnus kills a lot of men until Mnestheus shouts at the Trojans, saying, "What, are you going to let this one guy kick your heinies like this?"
66 of 87

Book 9 (6)

  • Then they gang up on Turnus and drive him against the River Tiber, which makes one border of their camp.
  • Juno doesn't dare to give Turnus sufficient strength to take on that many men. (That would be too big an interference from the gods.) To drive the point home, Jupiter tells Iris to tell Juno that things won't be pretty for Turnus if he keeps fighting the Trojans.
  • Unable to hold out any longer, Turnus casts himself into the Tiber, which carries him safely to the other side.
67 of 87

Book 10 (1)

  • Jupiter has been watching the battle unfolding between the Italians and the Trojans. When all the other gods are assembled, he asks them, "What's the matter? Why's this war going on? Why can't there just be peace?"
  • After this, Venus sees her opportunity to speak up for the Trojans. She makes a long speech, the gist of which is that the Trojans have suffered enough; if Jupiter plans to destroy them, he should just go ahead and do it, but that she should at least let Ascanius survive, even if he will live out the rest of his life ingloriously. Alternatively, Jupiter should let the Trojans go back and resettle Troy.
  • Now it's Juno's turn to make her own long speech. She says that what happened wasn't her fault (yeah right), and that Jupiter could have stepped it earlier if he cared so much.
  • Having now heard both sides, Jupiter says, "Whatever. I'm staying out of this. The Trojans and Italians can slug it out as much as they want."
  • Indeed, that day, the battle between the two sides continues. Nothing too important seems to happen.
  • That night, Aeneas sails back down the river to rejoin his companions. Since we last saw him chilling out with Evander, he has gone to see the Etruscan King Tarchon. He has brought Tarchon, along with 30 ships worth of Etruscan warriors as allies.
68 of 87

Book 10 (2)

  • As they sail on through the night, Aeneas remains awake at the tiller.
  • Then, a bunch of nymphs swim by his ship – the same nymphs that used to be his fleet, before they were magically transformed. They let him know of the dire straits Ascanius finds himself in. Then they give him an added push to hurry him down the river.
  • The next morning, when the Trojans see Aeneas, their spirits revive. Turnus is excited too, because he sees an opportunity to bring the fight to the Trojans on the landing-ground.
  • Meanwhile, Tarchon urges his fleet to drive their ships up onto the earth. Everybody executes this maneuver successfully except for Tarchon himself; his ship splits in half on a sandbar, and many of his men are carried away by the undertow.
  • Scarcely any time passes before the Trojans are mixing it up with the Italians on the beach. Aeneas kills a bunch of guys. Other guys kill other guys.
  • At a certain point, the Arcadians, who typically fight on horseback rather than on foot, are put to flight. Pallas shouts at them, telling them they have to keep fighting – the sea is behind them; there's nowhere to run!
  • Then Pallas rushes into the fight and kills various guys.
69 of 87

Book 10 (3)

  • The Arcadians are encouraged by Pallas's speech and behavior, and regain their courage.
  • In the midst of the battle, Pallas is fighting Lausus, the son of the Italian ally Mezentius.
  • When his sister, the nymph Juturna, tells Turnus to go help Lausus, he hops to it. When he gets to where the two young warriors are fighting, he announces that he has come to kill Pallas, and that he wishes Pallas's father Evander were there to watch. (Yikes.)
  • At Turnus's command, the other soldiers back away.
  • Pallas tells Turnus, "I'm not afraid. Bring it on."
  • Before throwing his spear, Pallas prays to Hercules, the god of the Arcadians, for help. Hercules hears him, but is powerless to do anything.
  • Jupiter tells Hercules not to worry, and that no-one can escape fate; his own son, Sarpedon, was killed at Troy, and that Turnus will die soon anyway.
  • Pallas throws his spear with all his strength and grazes Turnus.
  • Then Turnus throws his spear and gives Pallas a mortal blow. As Turnus stands over Pallas's body, he promises that his fallen enemy will be afforded all proper funerary rites. Then he takes Pallas's ornamented belt.
70 of 87

Book 10 (4)

  • When Aeneas hears of Pallas's death, he gets really mad. He kills a bunch of guys around him; then he captures four guys alive so that he can sacrifice them at Pallas's funeral.
  • Next, when some guy named Magus falls at his knees and begs him for mercy, Aeneas refuses and stabs him in the throat.
  • Then Aeneas chases down some priest guy decked out in his holy robes. Aeneas kills him too.
  • Aeneas proceeds to kill a bunch of other guys, including a guy named Tarquitus who also begs him for mercy.
  • Then Aeneas takes down a guy called Lucagus who was coming at him in a chariot driven by his brother Liger. Aeneas kills Liger by spearing him in the groin. Then he drags Lucagus from the chariot and kills him as – you guessed it – he begs for mercy.
  • The fight keeps going on. After a little while, Ascanius and the other Trojans are able to come out of the fort – the arrival of Aeneas and his allies has taken the pressure off a bit.
  • Meanwhile, Jupiter is watching the battle. He tells Juno that Venus is helping the Trojans.
  • Juno asks to at least preserve Turnus so he can see his father, Daunus, again.
71 of 87

Book 10 (5)

  • Jupiter says "Fine, I'll prevent him from dying today – just don't think I'm turning the whole war in his favor."
  • Juno says she's cool with that. Then, with Jupiter's permission, she heads down to earth where she makes a replica of Aeneas. She sends this replica out into the front lines of battle.
  • When Turnus catches sight of it, he throws his spear at it, but the replica dodges it. Then it turns tail and flees.
  • Thinking he's got Aeneas on the run, Turnus runs after the replica.
  • The replica runs onto a ship moored nearby – the ship in which King Osinius, one of Aeneas's Etruscan allies, had sailed from Clusium. There it hides.
  • Turnus runs on board the ship after it. Just then, Juno snaps the cable that was holding it to shore, and the boat rolls away on the surf.
  • Meanwhile, Aeneas – the real Aeneas – calls out for Turnus to come back and fight.
  • At this point, the ghostly form Turnus had been pursuing shoots up to the heavens, and the Rutulian warrior realizes he has been tricked. In his shame, he prays for his ship to come to ground on an empty coast, and debates committing suicide.
72 of 87

Book 10 (6)

  • At the same time, Mezentius, the fearsome Italian ally, is making mincemeat of the Trojans.
  • When Mezentius gives a mortal wound to a guy called Orodes, the dying man predicts his killer's imminent death. In response, Mezentius says, "Whatever."
  • After the fight rages on for some time, Aeneas and Mezentius finally come together in combat. Mezentius throws his spear but it deflects off Aeneas's shield and stabs some other guy in the groin.
  • Then Aeneas throws his spear, which punctures Mezentius's shield and stabs him in the groin.
  • As Mezentius backs away slowly with this horrible wound, his son Lausus heroically runs in to the rescue. This inspires a bunch of other Italian allies to come in to Mezentius's defense, and Aeneas is held back.
  • Eventually, however, Lausus and Aeneas come to blows, and Aeneas stabs him through his flimsy shield.
73 of 87

Book 10 (7)

  • As soon as he sees Lausus fall, however, Aeneas is moved by pity; he promises to give Lausus back to his family for burial, without taking any spoils from his body. Then he tells Lausus's fellow soldiers to come take his body.
  • Over by the river, Mezentius has washed his wound and is lying against a tree. When he sees his son's body brought to him on a shield, he is overcome with grief, and decides to die soon.
  • He gets on his horse (that must really hurt if he has a wound in his groin) and rides back to battle.
  • Eventually, he finds Aeneas, and they engage in single combat. Aeneas brings Mezentius down by spearing his horse in the head.
  • Pinned under the animal, Mezentius can't escape. He asks Aeneas to bury him in the same grave with his son.
  • Aeneas kills him.
74 of 87

Book 11 (1)

  • Although he's disturbed by the death of Pallas, Aeneas makes offerings to the gods as a sign of thanks for his victory.
  • Then he addresses his soldiers. He tells them that the lion's share of their work is over. Then he instructs them to bury the dead. He also orders that Pallas's body be sent back to his father Evander.
  • He goes to the shelter where Pallas's body is laid out, and weeps at his death. He is especially sad for having failed in his promise to Evander to keep Pallas safe.
  • Virgil now describes Pallas's funeral procession heading off. It includes the four prisoners Aeneas intends to have sacrificed over Pallas's pyre.
  • When Aeneas gets back to camp, he finds that emissaries from the Latins have come; they ask for a day of truce to bury their dead.
  • Aeneas says, "Fine. But you guys should know that you're a bunch of real jerks. Why did you let Turnus turn you guys against us? If he likes fighting so much, he should have stayed on the battle and let me kill him."
  • Then Drances, a Latin elder, speaks up. He tells Aeneas that they will get rid of Turnus as an ally and make peace again with the Trojans.
  • The Trojans and Latins decide on a twelve-day truce.
75 of 87

Book 11 (2)

  • Pallas's funeral procession reaches the city of the Arcadians. King Evander is overcome with grief and throws himself on his son's body.
  • He gives vent to a lengthy lamentation. In it, he says he wishes he had died instead of his son; he also says that he doesn't blame Aeneas for Pallas's death.
  • The next morning, the Trojans burn their dead.
  • When the third day of the truce comes round, the Trojans bury the ashes and bones.
  • That same day, in the city of the Latins, mothers lament the loss of their sons. Some of them say that they should sever their alliance with Turnus. Drances supports this, but Queen Amata – who still wants Turnus, not Aeneas, as a son-in-law – nixes it.
  • At just this moment, the emissaries who were sent to the Greek King Diomedes come back. 
  • The emissaries say that Diomedes won't join them.
  • King Latinus wants to hear the full story, so he calls an assembly and orders the emissaries to address it.
76 of 87

Book 11 (3)

  • They report what Diomedes told them: that he's suffered enough fighting against the Trojans at Troy. He says the Trojans are some mean dudes; the Trojans should take the gifts they were offering him and present them to Aeneas instead.
  • After hearing the emissaries out, King Latinus addresses the assembly and reveals what he heard from the oracle in Book 7 – that the Trojans are destined to rule in Italy. He says that there is no point in fighting them; the Latins should either join them as a single people, or, if the Trojans choose to leave, they should help them build a fleet.
  • Then Drances speaks up. He says that Latinus should go a step further and promise his daughter Lavinia in marriage to Aeneas. Then he addresses Turnus, who apparently is present at the meeting. He tells Turnus to renounce his claim to Lavinia's hand. If he still has his heart set on her, then he should man up and face Aeneas in combat.
  • In reply to him, Turnus says, "You talk big, but I don't see you fighting. As for myself, I killed tons of those Trojans, even when I faced them alone inside their own fort. You think we can't take them in war?"
77 of 87

Book 11 (4)

  • Then he turns to address Latinus. He tells him that they still have enough allies to fight the Trojans. On the other hand, if it's him alone Aeneas wants to face, he'll be ready.
  • In the meantime, Aeneas and his army have marched into the plain. A messenger enters the Latin city and alerts the people, who arm for battle.
  • In the assembly, Turnus takes this as proof that peace is useless. He orders his captains to prepare for war.
  • The city is quickly fortified. At the same time, Amata, Lavinia, and the town's other prominent women head to the shrine of Minerva; they pray to her to keep their city safe.
  • Turnus arms for battle. When he emerges, he runs into Camilla, the Volscian warrior queen, riding up with her battalions.
  • Turnus is glad to see her. He tells her to engage Aeneas head-on, while he and his men will set an ambush for him in a wooded mountain pass. He tells her that she will have the forces of another guy called Messapus to back her up in the plain.
78 of 87

Book 11 (5)

  • Up in heaven, Diana, goddess of the hunt, is talking to Opis, one of her serving maidens (and a goddess herself). Diana explains how Camilla's father, Metabus, was an exiled king who raised his daughter in the woods, taking on Diana as his child's patron goddess.
  • Diana gives Opis and arrow and says, "Whoever kills Camilla, you kill him with this."
  • By this point the Trojans are approaching the town. Camilla and Messapus are in the plain waiting to meet them. Battle is soon joined.
  • Camilla kills lots of men.
  • At a certain point in the battle, she ends up chasing a guy called Arruns, who is sporting some really fancy duds. Virgil tells us that Camilla has fallen prey (as Fitzgerald translates) to "a girl's love of finery."
  • Finally, Arruns turns to face her. He makes a prayer before throwing his spear – basically saying, "I don't expect any glory when I get home from killing a woman, I just need to stop her from killing all our guys."
  • Apollo grants the killing Camilla part, but not the coming home part.
  • Arruns throws his spear and strikes Camilla in her one exposed breast. 
79 of 87

Book 11 (6)

  • Then Arruns runs away. Camilla gets her friend Acca to help her as she slips from the saddle. In a short time she is dead.
  • Then, as promised, Diana's servant Opis draws an arrow, takes aim, and shoots, killing Arruns.
  • After the death of Camilla, the Italians are driven into the city. As the crowds of fleeing Italians bottleneck at the city gates, the Trojans press in behind them. Many are killed in the furious slaughter. Eventually, the Italians seal up their city.
  • When news reaches Turnus, where he is still waiting to ambush Aeneas in the mountain pass, he is dismayed. He leads his soldiers away from their ambush and heads toward the town.
  • Then Aeneas and his own contingent – who haven't yet arrived at the scene of the battle – march through the undefended pass and also head for the town.
  • The two armies see each other. Turnus's men would battle Aeneas if the day weren't ending.
  • The night finds Turnus and his men in the city.
80 of 87

Book 12 (1)

  • In the city of the Latins, Turnus announces that the time has come for him to fight Aeneas one-on-one.
  • Latinus tries to convince him to give it up – to take some other woman as wife and leave Lavinia to Aeneas.
  • Turnus refuses.
  • Then Amata pleads with Turnus, telling him that, if she dies, she'd sooner kill herself than have Aeneas as a son-in-law.
  • Lavinia, who has been watching all this, blushes. Turnus, seeing her, is overcome with love for her.
  • Turnus tells Amata not to jinx him. He says he's got to go fight Aeneas – no ifs, ands, or buts.
  • Then Turnus makes ready his chariot-team and arms himself for battle.
  • At the same time, Aeneas makes himself ready.
  • The next morning, the Italians emerge from their city. Both armies make room on the plain for the coming battle between the two champions.
  • From a nearby height, Juno is watching what's going on. Standing beside her is Turnus's sister, the nymph Juturna.
81 of 87

Book 12 (1)

  • Juno says, "I helped your brother as long as I could, but fate's against him. If you want to try to save him, have at it. Either that, or stir up the war again."
  • Down on the plain, the leaders from both sides are meeting. Aeneas prays, saying that, if Turnus wins, the Trojans will go packing. If he wins, however, he will not enslave the Italians, but will ask them to join him as equal citizens in a new nation.
  • Latinus agrees to the terms. They sacrifice animals to formalize the deal.
  • But now the Rutulians are getting upset. Now that they see the two champions ready for battle, they can easily tell that their own guy isn't strong enough.
  • Seeing this, Juturna descends among them, taking the shape of the warrior Camers.
  • She tries to stir them up to fight on behalf of Turnus.
  • Just then, they see an eagle – considered to be the bird of Jupiter – swoop down and seize a swan. Then, a whole bunch of other seabirds attack it in group formation; eventually, the eagle is forced to release the swan and beat a retreat.
  • Tolumnius, the augur (a soothsayer who interpreted the movements of birds), says that this is a sign that they should back up Turnus.
  • Then Tolumnius himself throws his spear at the Trojans.
82 of 87

Book 12 (2)

  • The spear kills one of a group of nine brothers all standing together. Predictably, the other brothers grab their weapons and race forward for revenge.
  • In no time, both armies are fighting again.
  • Aeneas tries to stop his men from fighting, but then somebody hits him with an arrow – though not fatally.
  • When Turnus sees Aeneas falling back, he gets a boost of excitement. He whips his chariot team into action and starts racing through the battle, killing guys left, right, and center.
  • Meanwhile, behind the lines, Aeneas is being treated by the healer Iapyx, who was taught the art by Apollo.
  • But Iapyx isn't having any success; he can't get the arrowhead out. Then, without anyone seeing her, the goddess Venus comes down with a special plant, called dittany, which she picked from Mount Ida in Crete.
  • She mixes the essence of this plant, along with some other nifty stuff (like ambrosia – the food of the gods), in the water Iapyx is using the wash the wound.
  • In no time, Aeneas is completely healed, and the arrowhead comes out easily.
  • Then, Iapyx calls people to get Aeneas his armor and send him back to battle.
83 of 87

Book 12 (3)

  • Once he has got his armor on, Aeneas turns to Ascanius and says, "Watch me in this fight. You'll learn how things get done."
  • Then he leads the Trojans in a counterattack; they kill many of their enemies.
  • Not liking this one bit, Juturna knocks Turnus's charioteer, Metiscus, onto the ground. Then she takes his form and starts driving Turnus erratically over the battlefield, keeping him out of Aeneas's reach. Aeneas keeps up as best he can.
  • But then Aeneas gets distracted by other Italian soldiers.
  • For the next little while, both Aeneas and Turnus rage in their own corners of the battlefield, each killing many opponents.
  • Then Venus gives Aeneas an idea. Taking a stand on a hilltop overlooking the city, Aeneas announces to his captains that the time has come to level the Latins' home – unless they surrender immediately.
  • The Trojans start attacking the city.
  • Seeing from her window how the ramparts are being besieged, Amata thinks that Turnus must be dead. In grief, she hangs herself with cloth torn from her robe.
  • Lavinia, learning of her mother's grief, laments loudly, as does King Latinus, who covers his head in filth.
84 of 87

Book 12 (4)

  • Turnus hears the commotion from the city. Juturna, still disguised as his charioteer Metiscus, tries to convince him to keep killing Trojans on the periphery, but Turnus recognizes her and refuses.
  • After having lost so many friends in battle, he can't bear the destruction of the city to top it off. Death does not frighten him; he must go to face Aeneas!
  • At just that moment, word comes to Turnus of the dire straits of the city – and of the death of Amata.
  • Now he is firmly decided. He goes to face Aeneas, knowing he will die.
  • When Aeneas hears that Turnus is coming, he stops attacking the city and goes to meet him.
  • A space is cleared for them to fight, and in no time they are throwing spears at each other. Then they fight with swords.
  • While they are fighting, Jupiter raises a scale. In it, he places each man's destiny; whosever's sinks toward the ground will die.
  • Meanwhile, Turnus gives Aeneas a mighty blow with his sword – but the blade shatters on impact.
  • It turns out that Turnus was using Metiscus's sword, instead of his own. It was no match for Aeneas's divine armor.
85 of 87

Book 12 (5)

  • Then Turnus turns tail and runs. (The puns just keep flowing.)
  • The problem is, he's hemmed in – by the Trojans, by the city walls, and by an inconveniently located marsh.
  • As he runs, he calls out to his men to get him his sword, but Aeneas tells them not to – threatening to destroy their city if they help Turnus.
  • Eventually, Aeneas approaches the olive tree stump where his spear earlier stuck fast.
  • Seeing him, Turnus prays to the local divinities to prevent Aeneas from being able to pull it out.
  • The gods hear him, and Aeneas is unable to remove it. Meanwhile, Juturna, disguised as Metiscus again, runs up to Turnus and gives him back his sword.
  • Venus doesn't like this, so she comes and pulls the spear out of the tree. She gives it to Aeneas.
  • Up in the heavens, Jupiter tells Juno that the end has come. He forbids her to interfere with Aeneas any more.
  • Juno says, "Fine. But promise me that, after Lavinia and Aeneas marry and join their peoples, the Latins won't have to change their name."
86 of 87

Book 12 (6)

  • Jupiter says, "No biggie. Latin will stay Latin. The Trojans will join with them, not the other way around."
  • Then Jupiter sends down one of the Furies to stop Juturna's meddling. It changes itself into a bird and starts flapping around Turnus, annoying him. Juturna realizes what it is, and withdraws from the fight.
  • Now Aeneas stands face to face with Turnus. They exchange hostile words.
  • Then Turnus picks up a huge rock to throw at Aeneas, but he isn't strong enough, and it falls short.
  • Now Aeneas throws his spear; it punctures Turnus's shield and stabs him in the thigh.
  • Turnus falls to the ground. He asks Aeneas to spare his life so he can see his father again; he relinquishes his claim to Lavinia.
  • Aeneas is debating with himself what to do, when he sees on Turnus shoulder the belt he stole from the dead body of Pallas.
  • Becoming enraged, Aeneas shouts out that Pallas is now taking his revenge. With that, he stabs Turnus, killing him.
  • With a groan, Turnus's outraged soul flutters down to the underworld.
87 of 87







This Is Amazing



Thank you so much you amazing person!!! These are fantastic!

Similar Classical Civilization resources:

See all Classical Civilization resources »