The Aeneid


The Aeneid Book 1 Summary

- After an opening statement of theme, with an invocation to the Muse we are introduced to Aeneas

- He is trying to cross the Mediterraenean on his way from Troy to Italy, when Juno, who hates the Trojans, raises a storm with the help of Aeolus, a god of the winds

- Neptune is angry at Juno's invasion of what he has authority over, calms the storm and Aeneas is cast ashore on the north African coast, with only seven of his original fleet of twenty ships left

- Venus, his mother, a goddess and Juno's rival, asks Jupiter to end Aeneas' suffering, and in reply Jupiter prophesies that Aeneas will make safe landing in Italy and establish a settlement, and looks far into the future to say that the mighty Roman race will spring from this settlement, culminating in Augustus Caesar

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The Aeneid Book 1 Summary

- Venus appears to Aeneas in disguise and tells him he has landed in Carthage, tells him the story of Dido, herself an exile and a widow, who is also trying to found a new settlement

- Aeneas goes inland with his men whilst Venus protects and conceals him in a mist, and sees the Tyrians building the new Carthage, in the temple being built in honour of Juno

- It is significant that the city worships the anti - Trojan goddess which will one day be Rome's greatest enemy, Dido also wishes for this once Aeneas leaves her

- Scenes from the Trojan war are depicted and Aeneas is deeply moved, especially since he is in the pictures, his fame has come to Carthage before him

- Dido appears, Aeneas introduces himself after the mist leaves him, and she takes him to her palace where the feast is set. Meanwhile, Venus arranges that Cupid shall pretend to be Ascanius and brings gifts to Dido, and she falls in love with Aeneas through his supposed child, and wishing to extend the evening she invites him to tell the story of his wanderings

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The Aeneid Book 2 Summary

- Aeneas recalles the last night of Troy, beginning with the Greek stategy of the Trojan horse by which the Greeks infiltrated and sacked the city, killing king Priam

- He tells of his own escape, with his wife Creusa and son Ascanius, and father Anchises, as well as the household gods of Troy, and of the disappearance of his wife

- He returned to the city to search for her, and her image appeared before him, foretelling his safe arrival in a western land and requesting he doesn't grieve for her

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The Aeneid Book 3 Summary

- Aeneas continues his narrative to Dido, describing his journey from Troy to North Africa via Crete and Sicily. Several of his adventures are closely modelled with Homer's Odysseus

- The narrative ends with the death of Aeneas' father Anchises, wifeless and fatherless, wit hhis small son to protect, Aeneas must now go towards his destiny in Italy - a destiny in which Dido has no place

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The Aeneid Book 4 Summary

- Dido's passion for Aeneas grows during his narrative and now it gets out of control, Aeneas returns her love but when Mercury, messenger of the gods, comes to remind Aeneas of his destiny as he settles in Carthage, he must sail away

- Dido, distraught, curses his race and kills herself

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The Aeneid Book 5 Summary

- The Trojans encounter another storm and put ashore to Sicily, here Aeneas honours the anniversary of his father's death with funeral games (modelled on Patroclus in the Iliad)

- Juno sends Iris down from Olympus to incite the Trojan women to burn the ships

- The women, tired of exile, set the ships on fire but Jupiter quenches the flames with a thunderstorm and only four ships are destroyed

- Aeneas is persuaded to leave behind his comrades who have lost his ships or their will to continue, and the rest set sail for Italy. Anchises appears to Aeneas in his sleep and tells him to visit the Sibyl of Cumae, prophetess of Cumae who will guide him to the underworld, there to learn the full greatness of the Roman mission

- Neptune promises Venus that the Trojans will cross safely to Italy but his price is one innocent victim, the helmsman Palinurus

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The Aeneid Book 6 Summary

- Aeneas and his small amount of remaining comrades land at Cumae, on the gulf of Naples, where he follows his father's instructions and visits the underworld guided by Sibyl, the prophetess

- She tells him he must fight a war to survive in Italy, and takes him to the Elysian fields, where his father reveals to him the future lineage of Roman heroes, culminating in Augustus, but with a sad prophecy, the early death of Augustus' designation heir, Marcellus, who died while Virgil was writing the Aeneid

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The Aeneid Book 7 Summary

- Aeneas sails around the coast to the mouth of the Tiber. Virgil invokes the Muse again for the second and greater part of his epic and describes the situation in Latium

- Its ruler, old king Latinus, has been told by the oracle that Lavinia is destined to marry a foreign chief whose descendants will rule not only Latium but the world

- Turnus, chief of the Rutuli, seeks her in marriage however. Aeneas sends ambassadors to king Latinus who recieves them hospitably, and hails Aeneas as the foreign husband the oracles have spoken of, and promises alliance

- Juno, who failed to prevent Aeneas' safe arrival into Italy, sends the fury Allecto to stir up strife in Italy. Latinus' queen, Amata, sides with Turnus who Allecto rouses to take up arms

- Latinus refuses to fight, and unable to control Turnus and his people he retires to his palace and lets the events unfold

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The Aeneid Book 7 Summary

- A collection of the Italian leaders who are Aeneas' new enemies parade, and bringing up the rear are Turnus and the Amazonian figure of Camilla, leader of the Volsci

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The Aeneid Book 8 Summary

- After Sibyl's previous promise he would get help from an unlikely source, a Greek city, Aeneas goes up the riber Tiber to the very site of Rome, who Virgil supposes are inhabited by a colony of Arcadian exiles where king Evander was an old friend of Anchises

- Evander takes Aeneas on a guided tour of the sacred places of Rome's future history, and entrusts his son Pallas to Aeneas' protection

- With these reinforcements, Aeneas rides off to Caere to recieve fresh armour from Venus, including a shield which has  depicted scenes from the future history of Rome, culminating in the battle of Actium and Augustus' triumph

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The Aeneid Book 9 Summary

- Aeneas seeks further allies in Etruria, during his absence the Italians attack the Trojan camp

- Two Trojan heroes, Nisus and Euryalus, offer to try to reach Aeneas but are killed, theirs are the first example in the Aeneid of the Homeric ARISTEIA

- Turnus enters the Trojan camp but is repulsed after a successful ARISTEIA ( the heroic exploits of individual combatants for personal glory) and rejoins his army by plunging into the Tiber

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The Aeneid Book 10 Summary

- Jupiter has a council with the gods and urges them to stop stirring up strife between the Latins and the Trojans, a civil conflict which he never wanted

- Venus and Juno argue angrily, but Jupiter declares his own neutral views and says that fate must find its way, each hero must come out with his own destiny

- Aeneas returns at the head of his Etruscan and Arcadian reinforcements and in the fighting that continues after his return which is the fiercest in the poem, Pallas, Evander's son, is killed by Turnus

- In a furious ARISTEIA not dissimilar to Homer's Achilles, Aeneas kills Mezentius, one of the greatest Italian heroes, and his young son Lausus

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The Aeneid Book 11 Summary

- A truce is called for the funeral of Pallas, and the general burying and burning of the dead on both sides

- The Latins call a council of war, and DRANCES, who hates Turnus, proposes they should go for peace, especially as an attempt to persuade Diomedes, Greek veteran of Troy, who has settled in Italy, to join the war against his old foes have failed

- Turnus angrily demands they continue to fight and offers that if all else fails he will face Aeneas in single combat

- Meanwhile, the war resumes and Camilla leads a cavalry engagement while Turnus attempts to ambush Aeneas

- The cavalry however were defeated and Camilla, after an ARISTEIA is killed and Aeneas rides through to safety

- The book ends with the Trojans on the offensive

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The Aeneid Book 12 Summary

- Faced with a probable defeat and having to retreat, Turnus agrees to fight Aeneas in single combat

- There is a truce, which the Rutuli, persuaded by Turnus' sister Juturna, blasphemously break

- Aeneas is wounded and general fighting resumes

- In Olympus Jupiter and Juno resolve the conflict, Juno agreeing to give up her hostility to the Trojans on condition that the name of Troy will vanish from history and the united peoples be known as Italians

- Meanwhile, Jupiter sends a fury which terrifies Turnus, Juturna withdraws from battle and Turnus realises that he is quite alone 'The gods terrify me and Jupiter is my enemy'

- In the final duel Aeneas has Turnus at his mercy, and might have spared him had he not recognised Pallas' sword belt which Turnus has stripped from the young hero's body after he he had killed him. Aeneas remembers his promise ot Evander and to avenge his son kills Turnus

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Structure of the Aeneid

- Of all European poets Virgil is probably the best example of a writer who continually drew on the past

- Virgil used and transformed Homer, his reworking of the plot of the Iliad to form the structure of the Aeneid is an amazing example of what is now called INTERTEXTUALITY (The reading of one text through another)

- This is a reassertion of Homer's greatness, in terms of a different language and a different civilisation

- The intertextuality of the Aeneid depends upon its structured and thematic revised essence of Homer, but also a complex system of hints, correspondence and parallelism drawing on Homer, Greek Tragedy and philosophy

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Dido and Aeneas

- Dido's fatal, passionate love for Aeneas, who she tries to detain from continuing on his destined journey to Rome, originated in the Odyssey where Calypso detains Odysseus for a while, but is then forced, like Dido, by divine intervention to release him

- The difference is the Homeric parting of these lovers is good humoured, after some tears and resistance, Calpyso actually helps Odysseus on his way, whereas Dido becomes distraught, violently, rhetorically denounces Aeneas and curses his descendants, and then when he sets sail to obey the will of the gods she commits suicide

- Virgil, out of this creates one of literatures greatest romances, also drawing from the story of Jason and Medea from ARGONAUTICA by APOLLONIUS, he however treats Dido's uncontrollable passion with a kind of intense empathy that supercedes Apollonius

- Cupid's arrow burns in Dido's heart, and Virgil has a very famous simile, she is compared to a deer hit by an arrow from a hunter unaware that he has wounded her, and the hunter is Aeneas, unaware of the violence of the flame he has re - awakened with the help of the gods

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Dido and Aeneas

- The first lines of book 4 describe the queens passion as an internal wound, a kind of self - consuming fire

- Images of fire and wounds recur throughout this book, operating as symbols of a deadly trauma

- The structure of book 4 is like that of a Greek Tragedy, with scenes between the protagonists (Aeneas, Dido, and her confidante sister Anna), divine messengers and interventions, the author as a chorus, not only narrating but commenting on the action

- Although book 4 could be read as a separate story, like book 2, it is still completely intergrated into the story as a whole. The poem is about a dutiful hero who, at first reluctantly, follows the gods' wills through a huge amount of suffering and labour, to begin a historical process culminating in Augustus' triumph

- The reality of the Roman mission gets suspended, and love is the antithesis of history, being timeless, and once she realises Aeneas must leave, Dido can't bear to return from her love to her world of political reality

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Dido and Aeneas

- Characters, themes, and episodes from the two halves of the poem offer parallels and correspondences

- In the Dido episode, the opening lines of book 4 describe her internal wound, and the trauma festering within her

- The opening of book 12 describes Turnus' state of mind, violent and desparate, as he senses the battle drawing to a close and realises he must challenge Aeneas

- He is compared to an African lion ( Dido was an African queen) wounded by a hunter, aroused by his own blood. Turnus isn't actually wounded but the simile of the lion and hunter's arrow recalls Dido's psychological love wound and the simile of the queen as a wounded deer

- Her wound was inflicted by unaware Aeneas, and it's Aeneas whose continued avoidance of Turnus' attacks that roused Turnus to fresh furor

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Dido and Turnus

- There are significant correspondences between the proudly, self - vaunting farewell speeches of Dido in book 4 and Turnus in book 12

- Both are tragic figures, doomed by their own faults but with the help of gods, and both reach the end of their tethers and both talk to their sisters, Anna and Juturna

- Dido and Turnus in both halves of the poem make up Aeneas' greatest obstructions, the parallel between them is pointed out by Turnus' refusal to feel guilt, like Dido cloaking her crime under the pretext of marriage

- There is a personal cost for Aeneas, who weeps when preparing to leave Dido and hesitates before killing Turnus, so Aeneas must overcome these obstacles

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Dido and Aeneas

- Virgil's views are shown through the moral structure of the poem, Dido leads Aeneas into her luxurious palace, but in book 8 Evander welcomes Aeneas into his simple rustic dwelling on the Palantine Hill, imagined by Virgil to stand on the very area that would become Augustus' own house

- This contrast shows how 'oriental' luxury belongs to the past, to the fallen palace of Priam, which was renowned in the Iliad for its splendour, and to Dido's doomed Carthage, while the Roman empire, the eternal city and empire without end grew from simple pastoral origins

- Structurally the description of book 6 of the great men who will build the glory of Rome in the form of souls awaiting rebirth in Elysium identified by Anchises to Aeneas parallels the description in book 8 of the shield made for Aeneas by Vulcan, where scenes of the future Rome are depicted from Romulus to Augustus

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Dido and Aeneas

- Both these moments are supposed to be read with  the episode in book 1 where Jupiter reassures Venus that Aeneas will reach Italy safely, and found the future of Rome

- All three of these particular passages praise the exploits of Augustus Caesar

- The Aeneid, like the Iliad, is a classic example of 'RING - COMPOSITION'

- This is a structural technique in which the close of a work mirrors its opening

- The Iliad begins with Achilles refusing to give Briseis to Agamemnon, with an assembly of gods supporting his refusal

- At the end of the poem Achilles voluntarily gives back the body of Hector to Priam, accepting the ransom he refused to accept from Agamemnon

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Structure of the Aeneid

- The gods require this action from him and so the book ends with a resolution to the 'wrath' of Achilles that has been consistent throughout the poem

- In the Aeneid, book 1 shows Aeneas frightened, shipwrecked, shivering with cold and expecting death by drowning. In the episode in Olympus, Jupiter reassures Venus that Aeneas will survive

- In book 12, Turnus is the one who dies, and Jupiter's speech to Venus in book 1 is balanced by his speech to Juno in book 12

- In book 1 Juno's hatred stirred up the storm where Aeneas nearly died, and in book 7 it stirred up the war in Latium, but now she agrees to be reconciled with the Trojans if they drop their hated name and become Italians and Romans

- So the poem begins with  Aeneas in despair believing he is facing death, and ends with his victory over Turnus

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Structure of the Aeneid

- Jupiter's 'smiles' in agreement with Juno's 'condition' that the name of the Trojan will vanish into the past, smiles, because the goddess who has had an almost satanic opposition to the divine will has at last become acquainted with it

- This smile is the same smile, the poet tells us, Jupiter reassured Venus with in book 1, when he first told her of Aeneas' destiny

- The narrative is like an epic narrative, moving forward in time to a destined 'end' but is also cyclic, because the end is foreseen in the beginning, and the beginning is recalled at the end

- Virgil's special achievement lay in connecting legend with history through a concern for Augustus

- He made Aeneas a prefiguration of Augustus, which was good propaganda because the Romans saw history as models or exempla, to be followed by successive generations

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Influence of the Aeneid

- It is the exemplary conduct of Aeneas, his PIETAS and prowess at war, which inspired the poet to transform a Roman chronicle of events into a Homeric epic

- The labours of Virgil's heroes may be remote from us, but the intensity of the poet's empathy and eloquence of his writing allow the reader to find the sufferings of all humanity in the Aeneid

- It survives so well because it is one of the most realistic records we have of human suffering and hope

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