Aeneid

Aeneid

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The Aeneid is a Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 epic poem
Epic poetry
An epic is a lengthy narrative poem, ordinarily concerning a serious subject containing details of heroic deeds and events significant to a culture or nation. Oral poetry may qualify as an epic, and Albert Lord and Milman Parry have argued that classical epics were fundamentally an oral poetic form...

, written by Virgil
Virgil
Publius Vergilius Maro, usually called Virgil or Vergil in English , was an ancient Roman poet of the Augustan period. He is known for three major works of Latin literature, the Eclogues , the Georgics, and the epic Aeneid...

 between 29 and 19 BC, that tells the legend
Legend
A legend is a narrative of human actions that are perceived both by teller and listeners to take place within human history and to possess certain qualities that give the tale verisimilitude...

ary story of Aeneas
Aeneas
Aeneas , in Greco-Roman mythology, was a Trojan hero, the son of the prince Anchises and the goddess Aphrodite. His father was the second cousin of King Priam of Troy, making Aeneas Priam's second cousin, once removed. The journey of Aeneas from Troy , which led to the founding a hamlet south of...

, a Trojan
Troy
Troy was a city, both factual and legendary, located in northwest Anatolia in what is now Turkey, southeast of the Dardanelles and beside Mount Ida...

 who travelled to Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

, where he became the ancestor of the Romans
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

. It is composed of roughly 10,000 lines in dactylic hexameter
Dactylic hexameter
Dactylic hexameter is a form of meter in poetry or a rhythmic scheme. It is traditionally associated with the quantitative meter of classical epic poetry in both Greek and Latin, and was consequently considered to be the Grand Style of classical poetry...

. The first six of the poem's twelve books tell the story of Aeneas's wanderings from Troy to Italy, and the poem's second half tells of the Trojans' ultimately victorious war upon the Latins
Latins
"Latins" refers to different groups of people and the meaning of the word changes for where and when it is used.The original Latins were an Italian tribe inhabiting central and south-central Italy. Through conquest by their most populous city-state, Rome, the original Latins culturally "Romanized"...

, under whose name Aeneas and his Trojan followers are destined to be subsumed.

The hero Aeneas
Aeneas
Aeneas , in Greco-Roman mythology, was a Trojan hero, the son of the prince Anchises and the goddess Aphrodite. His father was the second cousin of King Priam of Troy, making Aeneas Priam's second cousin, once removed. The journey of Aeneas from Troy , which led to the founding a hamlet south of...

 was already known to Greco-Roman legend and myth, having been a character in the Iliad
Iliad
The Iliad is an epic poem in dactylic hexameters, traditionally attributed to Homer. Set during the Trojan War, the ten-year siege of the city of Troy by a coalition of Greek states, it tells of the battles and events during the weeks of a quarrel between King Agamemnon and the warrior Achilles...

, written in the 8th century BC. Virgil took the disconnected tales of Aeneas' wanderings, his vague association with the foundation of Rome and a personage of no fixed characteristics other than a scrupulous piety
Piety
In spiritual terminology, piety is a virtue that can mean religious devotion, spirituality, or a combination of both. A common element in most conceptions of piety is humility.- Etymology :...

, and fashioned this into a compelling founding myth
Founding myth
A national myth is an inspiring narrative or anecdote about a nation's past. Such myths often serve as an important national symbol and affirm a set of national values. A national myth may sometimes take the form of a national epic...

 or nationalist epic
National epic
A national epic is an epic poem or a literary work of epic scope which seeks or is believed to capture and express the essence or spirit of a particular nation; not necessarily a nation-state, but at least an ethnic or linguistic group with aspirations to independence or autonomy...

 that at once tied Rome to the legends of Troy, glorified traditional Roman virtues and legitimized the Julio-Claudian dynasty
Julio-Claudian Dynasty
The Julio-Claudian dynasty normally refers to the first five Roman Emperors: Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula , Claudius, and Nero, or the family to which they belonged; they ruled the Roman Empire from its formation, in the second half of the 1st century BC, until AD 68, when the last of the line,...

 as descendants of the founders, heroes and gods of Rome and Troy.

Story


The Aeneid can be divided into two halves based on the disparate subject matter of Books 1–6 (Aeneas' journey to Latium in Italy) and Books 7–12 (the war in Latium). These two halves are commonly regarded as reflecting Virgil's ambition to rival Homer
Homer
In the Western classical tradition Homer , is the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, and is revered as the greatest ancient Greek epic poet. These epics lie at the beginning of the Western canon of literature, and have had an enormous influence on the history of literature.When he lived is...

 by treating both the Odyssey's wandering theme and the Iliads warfare themes. This is, however, a rough correspondence, the limitations of which should be borne in mind.

Journey to Italy (books 1–6)


Virgil begins his poem with a statement of his theme (Arma virumque cano..., "I sing of arms and of a man...") and an invocation to the Muse
Muse
The Muses in Greek mythology, poetry, and literature, are the goddesses who inspire the creation of literature and the arts. They were considered the source of the knowledge, related orally for centuries in the ancient culture, that was contained in poetic lyrics and myths...

, falling some seven lines after the poem's inception: (Musa, mihi causas memora..., "O Muse, recount to me the causes..."). He then explains the reason for the principal conflict in the story: the resentment held by the goddess Juno
Juno (mythology)
Juno is an ancient Roman goddess, the protector and special counselor of the state. She is a daughter of Saturn and sister of the chief god Jupiter and the mother of Mars and Vulcan. Juno also looked after the women of Rome. Her Greek equivalent is Hera...

 against the Trojan
Troy
Troy was a city, both factual and legendary, located in northwest Anatolia in what is now Turkey, southeast of the Dardanelles and beside Mount Ida...

 people. This is consistent with her role throughout the Homer
Homer
In the Western classical tradition Homer , is the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, and is revered as the greatest ancient Greek epic poet. These epics lie at the beginning of the Western canon of literature, and have had an enormous influence on the history of literature.When he lived is...

ic epics
Epic poetry
An epic is a lengthy narrative poem, ordinarily concerning a serious subject containing details of heroic deeds and events significant to a culture or nation. Oral poetry may qualify as an epic, and Albert Lord and Milman Parry have argued that classical epics were fundamentally an oral poetic form...

.


Also in the manner of Homer, the story proper begins in medias res
In medias res
In medias res or medias in res is a Latin phrase denoting the literary and artistic narrative technique wherein the relation of a story begins either at the mid-point or at the conclusion, rather than at the beginning In medias res or medias in res (into the middle of things) is a Latin phrase...

, with the Trojan fleet in the eastern Mediterranean, heading in the direction of Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

. The fleet, led by Aeneas, is on a voyage to find a second home. It has been foretold that in Italy, he will give rise to a race both noble and courageous, a race which will become known to all nations. Juno is wrathful, because she had not been chosen in the judgment of Paris, and because her favorite city, Carthage
Carthage
Carthage , implying it was a 'new Tyre') is a major urban centre that has existed for nearly 3,000 years on the Gulf of Tunis, developing from a Phoenician colony of the 1st millennium BC...

, will be destroyed by Aeneas' descendants. Also, Ganymede, a Trojan prince, was chosen to be her husband Jupiter's cup bearer—replacing Juno's daughter Hebe. Juno proceeds to Aeolus
Aeolus
Aeolus was the ruler of the winds in Greek mythology. In fact this name was shared by three mythic characters. These three personages are often difficult to tell apart, and even the ancient mythographers appear to have been perplexed about which Aeolus was which...

, King of the Winds, and asks that he release the winds to stir up a storm in exchange for a bribe (Deiopea
Deiopea
Deiopea is the name of two characters in Greek mythology:* Deiopea, one of the Nereids * Deiopea, a nymph that Juno promised in marriage to Aeolus if he would unleash his winds against Aeneas' ships. She was in the train of Cyrene....

, the loveliest of all her sea nymphs, as a wife). Despite refusing her bribe, he agrees, and the storm devastates the fleet.

Neptune
Neptune (mythology)
Neptune was the god of water and the sea in Roman mythology and religion. He is analogous with, but not identical to, the Greek god Poseidon. In the Greek-influenced tradition, Neptune was the brother of Jupiter and Pluto, each of them presiding over one of the three realms of the universe,...

 takes notice: although he himself is no friend of the Trojans, he is infuriated by Juno's intrusion into his domain, and stills the winds and calms the waters. The fleet takes shelter on the coast of Africa. There, Aeneas's mother, Venus, in the form of a hunting woman very similar to the goddess Diana
Diana (mythology)
In Roman mythology, Diana was the goddess of the hunt and moon and birthing, being associated with wild animals and woodland, and having the power to talk to and control animals. She was equated with the Greek goddess Artemis, though she had an independent origin in Italy...

, encourages him and tells him the history of the city. Eventually, Aeneas ventures in, and in the temple of Juno, seeks and gains the favor of Dido, Queen of Carthage, the city which has only recently been founded by refugees from Tyre and which will later become one of Rome's greatest imperial rivals and enemies.

At a banquet given in the honour of the Trojans, Aeneas recounts sadly the events which occasioned the Trojans' fortuitous arrival. He begins the tale shortly after the events described in the Iliad
Iliad
The Iliad is an epic poem in dactylic hexameters, traditionally attributed to Homer. Set during the Trojan War, the ten-year siege of the city of Troy by a coalition of Greek states, it tells of the battles and events during the weeks of a quarrel between King Agamemnon and the warrior Achilles...

. Crafty Ulysses
Odysseus
Odysseus or Ulysses was a legendary Greek king of Ithaca and the hero of Homer's epic poem the Odyssey. Odysseus also plays a key role in Homer's Iliad and other works in the Epic Cycle....

 devised a way for Greek warriors to gain entry into Troy by hiding in a large wooden horse
Trojan Horse
The Trojan Horse is a tale from the Trojan War about the stratagem that allowed the Greeks finally to enter the city of Troy and end the conflict. In the canonical version, after a fruitless 10-year siege, the Greeks constructed a huge wooden horse, and hid a select force of men inside...

. The Greeks pretended to sail away, leaving a man, Sinon
Sinon
In Greek mythology, Sinon a son of Aesimus , or of the crafty Sisyphus, was a Greek warrior during the Trojan War...

, to tell the Trojans that the horse was an offering and that if it were taken into the city, the Trojans would be able to conquer Greece. The Trojan priest Laocoön
Laocoön
Laocoön the son of Acoetes is a figure in Greek and Roman mythology.-History:Laocoön is a Trojan priest of Poseidon , whose rules he had defied, either by marrying and having sons, or by having committed an impiety by making love with his wife in the presence of a cult image in a sanctuary...

, who had seen through the Greek plot and urged the horse's destruction, hurled his spear at the wooden horse. Just after, in what would be seen by the Trojans as punishment from the gods, Laocoön was suddenly grabbed and eaten, along with his two sons, by two giant sea snakes. So the Trojans
Troy
Troy was a city, both factual and legendary, located in northwest Anatolia in what is now Turkey, southeast of the Dardanelles and beside Mount Ida...

 brought the horse inside the fortified walls, and after nightfall the armed Greeks
Greeks
The Greeks, also known as the Hellenes , are a nation and ethnic group native to Greece, Cyprus and neighboring regions. They also form a significant diaspora, with Greek communities established around the world....

 emerged and began to slaughter the city's inhabitants.

Aeneas woke up and saw with horror what was happening to his beloved city. At first he tried to fight against the enemy, but soon he lost his comrades and was left alone to fend off tens of Greeks. Hector
Hector
In Greek mythology, Hectōr , or Hektōr, is a Trojan prince and the greatest fighter for Troy in the Trojan War. As the first-born son of King Priam and Queen Hecuba, a descendant of Dardanus, who lived under Mount Ida, and of Tros, the founder of Troy, he was a prince of the royal house and the...

, the fallen Trojan prince, told him in a dream to flee with his family. Aeneas tells of his escape with his son Ascanius
Ascanius
Ascanius is the son of the Trojan hero Aeneas and a legendary king of Alba Longa. He is a character of Roman mythology, and has a divine lineage, being the son of Aeneas, who is son of Venus and the hero Anchises, a relative of Priam; thus Ascanius has divine ascendents by both parents, being...

 and father Anchises
Anchises
In Greek mythology, Anchises was the son of Capys and Themiste . His major claim to fame in Greek mythology is that he was a mortal lover of the goddess Aphrodite . One version is that Aphrodite pretended to be a Phrygian princess and seduced him for nearly two weeks of lovemaking...

 after various omens, his wife Creusa
Creusa
In Greek mythology, four people had the name Creusa ; the name simply means "princess".-Naiad:According to Pindar's 9th Pythian Ode, Creusa was a naiad and daughter of Gaia who bore Hypseus, King of the Lapiths to the river god Peneus. Hypseus had one daughter, Cyrene. When a lion attacked her...

 having been separated from the others and subsequently killed in the general catastrophe. After getting outside Troy, he goes back for his wife. Creusa having been killed, her ghost appears before him and tells him his destiny.

He tells of how, rallying the other survivors, he built a fleet of ships and made landfall at various locations in the Mediterranean: Thrace
Thrace
Thrace is a historical and geographic area in southeast Europe. As a geographical concept, Thrace designates a region bounded by the Balkan Mountains on the north, Rhodope Mountains and the Aegean Sea on the south, and by the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara on the east...

, where they find the last remains of a fellow Trojan, Polydorus
Polydorus
In Greek mythology, Polydorus referred to several different people.*An Argive, son of Hippomedon...

; The Strophades, where they encounter the Harpy Celaeno
Celaeno
In Greek mythology, Celaeno referred to several different figures.*Celaeno, one of the Harpies, whom Aeneas encountered at Strophades. She gave him prophecies of his coming journeys.*Celaeno, one of the Pleiades...

; Crete
Crete
Crete is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands, the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, and one of the thirteen administrative regions of Greece. It forms a significant part of the economy and cultural heritage of Greece while retaining its own local cultural traits...

, which they believe to be the land where they are to build their city (but they are set straight by Apollo
Apollo
Apollo is one of the most important and complex of the Olympian deities in Greek and Roman mythology...

); and Buthrotum. This last city had been built in an attempt to replicate Troy. In Buthrotum, Aeneas met Andromache
Andromache
In Greek mythology, Andromache was the wife of Hector and daughter of Eetion, and sister to Podes. She was born and raised in the city of Cilician Thebe, over which her father ruled...

, the widow of Hector
Hector
In Greek mythology, Hectōr , or Hektōr, is a Trojan prince and the greatest fighter for Troy in the Trojan War. As the first-born son of King Priam and Queen Hecuba, a descendant of Dardanus, who lived under Mount Ida, and of Tros, the founder of Troy, he was a prince of the royal house and the...

. She still laments for the loss of her valiant husband and beloved child. There, too, Aeneas saw and met Helenus, one of Priam
Priam
Priam was the king of Troy during the Trojan War and youngest son of Laomedon. Modern scholars derive his name from the Luwian compound Priimuua, which means "exceptionally courageous".- Marriage and issue :...

's sons, who had the gift of prophecy. Through him, Aeneas learned the destiny laid out for him: he was divinely advised to seek out the land of Italy (also known as Ausonia or Hesperia), where his descendants would not only prosper, but in time rule the entire known world. In addition, Helenus also bade him go to the Sibyl
Sibyl
The word Sibyl comes from the Greek word σίβυλλα sibylla, meaning prophetess. The earliest oracular seeresses known as the sibyls of antiquity, "who admittedly are known only through legend" prophesied at certain holy sites, under the divine influence of a deity, originally— at Delphi and...

 in Cumae
Cumae
Cumae is an ancient Greek settlement lying to the northwest of Naples in the Italian region of Campania. Cumae was the first Greek colony on the mainland of Italy , and the seat of the Cumaean Sibyl...

.

Heading out into the open sea, Aeneas left Buthrotum, rounding Italy's cape and making his way towards Sicily
Sicily
Sicily is a region of Italy, and is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Along with the surrounding minor islands, it constitutes an autonomous region of Italy, the Regione Autonoma Siciliana Sicily has a rich and unique culture, especially with regard to the arts, music, literature,...

 (Trinacria). There, they are caught in the whirlpool of Charybdis
Charybdis
Charybdis or Kharybdis was a sea monster, later rationalised as a whirlpool and considered a shipping hazard in the Strait of Messina.-The mythological background:...

 and driven out to sea. Soon they come ashore at the land of the Cyclops
Cyclops
A cyclops , in Greek mythology and later Roman mythology, was a member of a primordial race of giants, each with a single eye in the middle of his forehead...

. There they meet a Greek, Achaemenides
Achaemenides
This article is about the mythological figure. For the ancient Persian dynasty, see Achaemenid empire.In Greek and Roman mythology, Achaemenides was a son of Adamastus of Ithaca, and one of Odysseus' crew...

, one of Odysseus' men, who had been left behind when his comrades escaped the cave of Polyphemus
Polyphemus
Polyphemus is the gigantic one-eyed son of Poseidon and Thoosa in Greek mythology, one of the Cyclopes. His name means "much spoken of" or "famous". Polyphemus plays a pivotal role in Homer's Odyssey.-In Homer's Odyssey:...

. They take Achaemenides onboard and narrowly escape Polyphemus. Shortly after these events, Anchises dies peacefully of old age.

Meanwhile, Venus
Venus (mythology)
Venus is a Roman goddess principally associated with love, beauty, sex,sexual seduction and fertility, who played a key role in many Roman religious festivals and myths...

 has her own plans. She goes to her son, Aeneas' half-brother Cupid
Cupid
In Roman mythology, Cupid is the god of desire, affection and erotic love. He is the son of the goddess Venus and the god Mars. His Greek counterpart is Eros...

, and tells him to imitate Ascanius
Ascanius
Ascanius is the son of the Trojan hero Aeneas and a legendary king of Alba Longa. He is a character of Roman mythology, and has a divine lineage, being the son of Aeneas, who is son of Venus and the hero Anchises, a relative of Priam; thus Ascanius has divine ascendents by both parents, being...

. Disguised as such, he goes to Dido, and offers the gifts expected from a guest. With her motherly love revived in the sight of the boy, her heart is pierced and she falls in love with the boy and his father. During the banquet, Dido realizes that she has fallen madly in love with Aeneas, although she had previously sworn fidelity to the soul of her late husband, Sychaeus, who had been murdered by her cupidinous brother Pygmalion
Pygmalion of Tyre
Pygmalion was king of Tyre from 831 to 785 BC and a son of King Mattan I .During Pygmalion's reign, Tyre seems to have shifted the heart of its trading empire from the Middle East to the Mediterranean, as can be judged from the building of new colonies including Kition on Cyprus, Sardinia , and,...

.

Juno seizes upon this opportunity to make a deal with Venus, Aeneas' mother, with the intention of distracting him from his destiny of founding a city in Italy. Aeneas is inclined to return Dido's love, and during a hunting expedition, a storm drives them into a cave in which Aeneas and Dido presumably have sex, an event that Dido takes to indicate a marriage between them. But when Jupiter
Jupiter (mythology)
In ancient Roman religion and myth, Jupiter or Jove is the king of the gods, and the god of the sky and thunder. He is the equivalent of Zeus in the Greek pantheon....

 sends Mercury
Mercury (mythology)
Mercury was a messenger who wore winged sandals, and a god of trade, the son of Maia Maiestas and Jupiter in Roman mythology. His name is related to the Latin word merx , mercari , and merces...

 to remind Aeneas of his duty, he has no choice but to part. Her heart broken, Dido commits suicide by stabbing herself upon a pyre
Pyre
A pyre , also known as a funeral pyre, is a structure, usually made of wood, for burning a body as part of a funeral rite...

 with Aeneas' sword. Before dying, she predicts eternal strife between Aeneas's people and hers; "rise up from my bones, avenging spirit" (4.625, trans. Fitzgerald) is an obvious invocation to Hannibal. Looking back from the deck of his ship, Aeneas sees Dido's funeral pyre's smoke and knows its meaning only too clearly. However, destiny calls and the Trojan fleet sails on to Italy.


The Trojans returned to the island of Sicily, where Aeneas's father Anchises
Anchises
In Greek mythology, Anchises was the son of Capys and Themiste . His major claim to fame in Greek mythology is that he was a mortal lover of the goddess Aphrodite . One version is that Aphrodite pretended to be a Phrygian princess and seduced him for nearly two weeks of lovemaking...

 had been hastily interred during the fleet's previous landfall there, to hold funeral games in his honour. Afterwards, Aeneas, with the guidance of the Cumaean Sibyl
Cumaean Sibyl
The ageless Cumaean Sibyl was the priestess presiding over the Apollonian oracle at Cumae, a Greek colony located near Naples, Italy.The word sibyl comes from the ancient Greek word sibylla, meaning prophetess. There were many Sibyls in different locations throughout the ancient world...

, descends into the underworld
Underworld
The Underworld is a region which is thought to be under the surface of the earth in some religions and in mythologies. It could be a place where the souls of the recently departed go, and in some traditions it is identified with Hell or the realm of death...

 through an opening at Cumae
Cumae
Cumae is an ancient Greek settlement lying to the northwest of Naples in the Italian region of Campania. Cumae was the first Greek colony on the mainland of Italy , and the seat of the Cumaean Sibyl...

; there he speaks with the spirit of his father and has a prophetic vision of the destiny of Rome.

War in Italy (books 7–12)


Upon returning to the land of the living, Aeneas leads the Trojans to settle in the land of Latium
Latium
Lazio is one of the 20 administrative regions of Italy, situated in the central peninsular section of the country. With about 5.7 million residents and a GDP of more than 170 billion euros, Lazio is the third most populated and the second richest region of Italy...

, where he courts Lavinia
Lavinia
In Roman mythology, Lavinia is the daughter of Latinus and Amata and the last wife of Aeneas.Lavinia, the only child of the king and "ripe for marriage", had been courted by many men in Ausonia who hoped to become the king of Latium. Turnus, ruler of the Rutuli, was the most likely of the suitors,...

, the daughter of king Latinus
Latinus
Latinus was a figure in both Greek and Roman mythology.-Greek mythology:In Hesiod's Theogony, Latinus was the son of Odysseus and Circe who ruled the Tyrsenoi, presumably the Etruscans, with his brothers Ardeas and Telegonus...

. Although Aeneas would have wished to avoid it, war eventually breaks out. Juno is heavily involved in causing this war—she convinces the Queen of Latium to demand that Lavinia be married to Turnus
Turnus
In Virgil's Aeneid, Turnus was the King of the Rutuli, and the chief antagonist of the hero Aeneas.-Biography:Prior to Aeneas' arrival in Italy, Turnus was the primary potential suitor of Lavinia, daughter of Latinus, King of the Latin people. Upon Aeneas' arrival, however, Lavinia is promised to...

, the king of a local people, the Rutuli
Rutuli
The Rutuli or Rutulians were members of a legendary Italic tribe...

. Juno continues to stir up trouble, even summoning the Fury
Erinyes
In Greek mythology the Erinyes from Greek ἐρίνειν " pursue, persecute"--sometimes referred to as "infernal goddesses" -- were female chthonic deities of vengeance. A formulaic oath in the Iliad invokes them as "those who beneath the earth punish whosoever has sworn a false oath"...

 Alecto
Alecto
Alecto is one of the Erinyes in Greek mythology. According to Hesiod, she was the daughter of Gaea fertilized by the blood spilled from Uranus when Cronus castrated him. She is the sister of Tisiphone and Megaera...

 to ensure that a war takes place.

Seeing the masses of Italians that Turnus has brought against him, Aeneas seeks help from the Tuscans, enemies of Turnus. He meets King Evander from Arcadia
Arcadia
Arcadia is one of the regional units of Greece. It is part of the administrative region of Peloponnese. It is situated in the central and eastern part of the Peloponnese peninsula. It takes its name from the mythological character Arcas. In Greek mythology, it was the home of the god Pan...

, whose son Pallas
Pallas (son of Evander)
In Roman mythology, Pallas was the son of King Evander. In Virgil's Aeneid, Evander allows Pallas to fight against the Rutuli with Aeneas, who takes him and treats him like his own son Ascanius. In battle, Pallas proves he is a warrior, killing many Rutulians, and compared to the Rutulian Lausus,...

 agrees to lead troops against the other Italians. Meanwhile, the Trojan camp is being attacked, and a midnight raid leads to the deaths of Nisus and his companion Euryalus
Nisus and Euryalus
Nisus and Euryalus are a pair of friends serving under Aeneas in the Aeneid, the Augustan epic by Vergil. Their foray among the enemy, narrated in Book 9, demonstrates their stealth and prowess as warriors, but ends as a tragedy: the loot Euryalus acquires attracts attention, and the two die...

, in one of the most emotional passages in the book. The gates, however, are defended until Aeneas returns with his Tuscan and Arcadian reinforcements.

In the battling that follows, many heroes are killed, notably Pallas, who is killed by Turnus, and Mezentius
Mezentius
In Roman mythology, Mezentius was an Etruscan king, and father of Lausus. Sent into exile because of his cruelty, he moved to Latium. He reveled in bloodshed and was overwhelmingly savage on the battlefield, but more significantly to a Roman audience he was a contemptor divum, a "despiser of the...

, Turnus' close associate who inadvertently allows his son to be killed while he himself flees; he reproaches himself and faces Aeneas in single combat—an honourable but essentially futile pursuit. Another notable hero, Camilla
Camilla (mythology)
In Roman mythology, Camilla of the Volsci was the daughter of King Metabus and Casmilla. Driven from his throne, Metabus was chased into the wilderness by armed Volsci, his infant daughter in his hands. The river Amasenus blocked his path, and, fearing for the child's welfare, Metabus bound her to...

, a sort of Amazon
Amazons
The Amazons are a nation of all-female warriors in Greek mythology and Classical antiquity. Herodotus placed them in a region bordering Scythia in Sarmatia...

 character, fights bravely but is eventually killed. Camilla had been a virgin devoted to Diana
Diana (mythology)
In Roman mythology, Diana was the goddess of the hunt and moon and birthing, being associated with wild animals and woodland, and having the power to talk to and control animals. She was equated with the Greek goddess Artemis, though she had an independent origin in Italy...

 and to her nation; the man who killed her was struck dead by Diana's sentinel Opis after doing so, even though he tried to escape.

After this, single combat is proposed between Aeneas and Turnus, but Aeneas was so obviously superior that the Italians, urged on by Turnus's divine sister, Juturna
Juturna
In the myth and religion of ancient Rome, Juturna was a goddess of fountains, wells and springs. She was a sister of Turnus and supported him against Aeneas by giving him his sword after he dropped it in battle, as well as taking him away from the battle when it seemed he would get killed...

, break the truce. Aeneas is injured, but returns to the battle shortly afterwards. Turnus and Aeneas dominate the battle on opposite wings, but when Aeneas makes a daring attack at the city of Latium (causing the queen of Latium to hang herself in despair), he forces Turnus into single combat once more. In a dramatic scene, Turnus's strength deserts him as he tries to hurl a rock, and he is struck by Aeneas's spear in the leg. As Turnus is begging on his knees for his life, the poem ends with Aeneas killing him in rage when he sees that Turnus is wearing the belt of his friend Pallas as a trophy.

Reception of the Aeneid


Critics of the Aeneid focus on a variety of issues (see Fowler
Don Paul Fowler
-Life:Fowler was from a Birmingham working-class background and went to King Edward VI Camp Hill School for boys there. After completing his studies at Christ Church, Oxford, Fowler was first appointed Lecturer in Classics at Magdalen College , subsequently Dyson Junior Research Fellow in Greek...

 in the OCD
Oxford Classical Dictionary
-Overview:The Oxford Classical Dictionary is considered to be the standard one-volume encyclopaedia in English of topics relating to the Ancient World and its civilizations. It was first published in 1949, edited by Max Cary with the assistance of H. J. Rose, H. P. Harvey, and A. Souter. A...

 for an excellent bibliography and summary). The tone of the poem as a whole is a particular matter of debate; some see the poem as ultimately pessimistic and politically subversive to the Augustan regime, while others view it as a celebration of the new imperial dynasty. Virgil makes use of the symbolism of the Augustan regime, and some scholars see strong associations between Augustus and Aeneas, the one as founder and the other as re-founder of Rome. A strong teleology
Teleology
A teleology is any philosophical account which holds that final causes exist in nature, meaning that design and purpose analogous to that found in human actions are inherent also in the rest of nature. The word comes from the Greek τέλος, telos; root: τελε-, "end, purpose...

, or drive towards a climax, has been detected in the poem. The Aeneid is full of prophecies about the future of Rome, the deeds of Augustus, his ancestors, and famous Romans, and the Carthaginian Wars; the shield of Aeneas even depicts Augustus' victory at Actium in 31 BC. A further focus of study is the character of Aeneas. As the protagonist of the poem, Aeneas seems to constantly waver between his emotions and commitment to his prophetic duty to found Rome; critics note the breakdown of Aeneas' emotional control in the last sections of the poem where the "pious" and "righteous" Aeneas mercilessly slaughters Turnus.

The Aeneid appears to have been a great success. Virgil is said to have recited Books 2, 4, and 6 to Augustus; Book 6 apparently caused Augustus' sister Octavia
Octavia
-People:*Octavia the Elder, elder half sister of Octavia Minor*Octavia the Younger, sister of Augustus, younger half sister of Octavia Major and fourth wife of Mark Antony*Claudia Octavia, the daughter of Claudius and Valeria Messalina and first wife of Nero...

 to faint. Unfortunately, the poem was unfinished at Virgil's death in 19 BC.

Virgil's death and editing of the Aeneid


According to the tradition, Virgil traveled to Greece
Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

 around 19 BC to revise the Aeneid. After meeting Augustus in Athens and deciding to return home, Virgil caught a fever while visiting a town near Megara
Megara
Megara is an ancient city in Attica, Greece. It lies in the northern section of the Isthmus of Corinth opposite the island of Salamis, which belonged to Megara in archaic times, before being taken by Athens. Megara was one of the four districts of Attica, embodied in the four mythic sons of King...

. Virgil crossed to Italy by ship, weakened with disease, and died in Brundisium harbour on 21 September 19 BC, leaving a wish that the manuscript of the Aeneid was to be burned. Augustus ordered Virgil's literary executors, Lucius Varius Rufus
Lucius Varius Rufus
Lucius Varius Rufus was a Roman poet of the Augustan age.He was the friend of Virgil, after whose death he and Plotius Tucca prepared the Aeneid for publication, and of Horace, for whom he and Virgil obtained an introduction to Maecenas...

 and Plotius Tucca
Plotius Tucca
Plotius Tucca was a Roman poet and a friend of Virgil's. He was in the circle of friends with Virgil and Maecenas, as indicated by Horace...

, to disregard that wish, instead ordering the Aeneid to be published with as few editorial changes as possible. As a result, the existing text of the Aeneid contain faults which Virgil was planning to correct before publication. However, the only obvious imperfections are a few lines of verse that are metrically unfinished (i.e., not a complete line of dactylic hexameter
Dactylic hexameter
Dactylic hexameter is a form of meter in poetry or a rhythmic scheme. It is traditionally associated with the quantitative meter of classical epic poetry in both Greek and Latin, and was consequently considered to be the Grand Style of classical poetry...

). Other alleged "imperfections" are subject to scholarly debate.

History



The Aeneid was written in a time of major political and social change in Rome, with the fall of the Republic
Roman Republic
The Roman Republic was the period of the ancient Roman civilization where the government operated as a republic. It began with the overthrow of the Roman monarchy, traditionally dated around 508 BC, and its replacement by a government headed by two consuls, elected annually by the citizens and...

 and the Final War of the Roman Republic
Final war of the Roman Republic
The final war of the Roman Republic, also known as Antony's civil war or the war between Antony and Octavian, was the last of the Roman civil wars of the republic, fought between Cleopatra and Octavian...

 having torn through society and many Romans' faith in the "Greatness of Rome" severely faltering. However, the new emperor, Augustus Caesar, began to institute a new era of prosperity and peace, specifically through the re-introduction of traditional Roman moral values. The Aeneid was seen as reflecting this aim, by depicting the heroic Aeneas as a man devoted and loyal to his country and its prominence, rather than personal gains, and going off on a journey for the betterment of Rome. In addition, the Aeneid attempted to legitimize the rule of Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar
Gaius Julius Caesar was a Roman general and statesman and a distinguished writer of Latin prose. He played a critical role in the gradual transformation of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire....

 (and by extension, of his adopted son Augustus and his heirs) by renaming Aeneas' son, Ascanius (called Ilus from Ilium, meaning Troy), Iulus and offering him as an ancestor of the gens Julia, the family of Julius Caesar, and many other great imperial descendants as part of the prophecy given to him in the Underworld.

Despite the polished and complex nature of the Aeneid (legend stating that Virgil wrote only three lines of the poem each day), the number of half-complete lines and the abrupt ending are generally seen as evidence that Virgil died before he could finish the work. Because this poem was composed and preserved in writing rather than orally, the Aeneid is more complete than most classical epics. Furthermore, it is possible to debate whether Virgil intended to rewrite and add to such lines. Some of them would be difficult to complete, and in some instances, the brevity of a line increases its dramatic impact (some arguing the violent ending as a typically Virgilian comment on the darker, vengeful side of humanity). However, these arguments may be anachronistic—half-finished lines might equally, to Roman readers, have been a clear indication of an unfinished poem and have added nothing whatsoever to the dramatic effect.

The perceived deficiency of any account of Aeneas' marriage to Lavinia or his founding of the Roman race led some writers, such as the 15th-century Italian poet Maffeo Vegio
Maffeo Vegio
Maffeo Vegio was an Italian poet who wrote in Latin; he is regarded by many as the finest Latin poet of the fifteenth-century. Born near Lodi, he studied at the University of Pavia, and went on to write some fifty works of both prose and poetry....

 (through his Mapheus Vegius widely printed in the Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

), Pier Candido Decembrio
Pietro Candido Decembrio
Pietro Candido Decembrio was a well-known Italian humanist and author of the Renaissance, and one of those involved in the rediscovery of ancient literature.The son of the humanist Uberto Decembrio, he was born in Pavia, and named after his father's employer Peter of Candia...

 (whose attempt was never completed), Claudio Salvucci (in his 1994 epic poem The Laviniad), and Ursula K. Le Guin
Ursula K. Le Guin
Ursula Kroeber Le Guin is an American author. She has written novels, poetry, children's books, essays, and short stories, notably in fantasy and science fiction...

 (in her 2008 novel Lavinia) to compose their own supplements.

Some legends state that Virgil, fearing that he would die before he had properly revised the poem, gave instructions to friends (including the current emperor, Augustus
Augustus
Augustus ;23 September 63 BC – 19 August AD 14) is considered the first emperor of the Roman Empire, which he ruled alone from 27 BC until his death in 14 AD.The dates of his rule are contemporary dates; Augustus lived under two calendars, the Roman Republican until 45 BC, and the Julian...

) that the Aeneid should be burned upon his death, owing to its unfinished state and because he had come to dislike one of the sequences in Book VIII, in which Venus
Venus (mythology)
Venus is a Roman goddess principally associated with love, beauty, sex,sexual seduction and fertility, who played a key role in many Roman religious festivals and myths...

 and Vulcan
Vulcan (mythology)
Vulcan , aka Mulciber, is the god of beneficial and hindering fire, including the fire of volcanoes in ancient Roman religion and Roman Neopaganism. Vulcan is usually depicted with a thunderbolt. He is known as Sethlans in Etruscan mythology...

 have sexual intercourse
Sexual intercourse
Sexual intercourse, also known as copulation or coitus, commonly refers to the act in which a male's penis enters a female's vagina for the purposes of sexual pleasure or reproduction. The entities may be of opposite sexes, or they may be hermaphroditic, as is the case with snails...

, for its nonconformity to Roman moral virtues. The friends did not comply with Virgil's wishes and Augustus himself ordered that they be disregarded. After minor modifications, the Aeneid was published.

The first full and faithful rendering of the poem in an Anglic language is the Scots
Middle Scots
Middle Scots was the Anglic language of Lowland Scotland in the period from 1450 to 1700. By the end of the 13th century its phonology, orthography, accidence, syntax and vocabulary had diverged markedly from Early Scots, which was virtually indistinguishable from early Northumbrian Middle English...

 translation by Gavin Douglas
Gavin Douglas
Gavin Douglas was a Scottish bishop, makar and translator. Although he had an important political career, it is for his poetry that he is now chiefly remembered. His principal pioneering achievement was the Eneados, a full and faithful vernacular translation of the Aeneid of Virgil and the first...

—his Eneados
Eneados
The Eneados is a Middle Scots translation of Virgil's Aeneid, completed by Gavin Douglas in 1513. It is the first complete translation of any major work of classical antiquity into an Anglic language...

, completed in 1513, which also included Maffeo Vegio's supplement. Even in the 20th century, Ezra Pound
Ezra Pound
Ezra Weston Loomis Pound was an American expatriate poet and critic and a major figure in the early modernist movement in poetry...

 considered this still to be the best Aeneid translation, praising the "richness and fervour" of its language and its hallmark fidelity to the original. The English translation by the 17th-century poet John Dryden
John Dryden
John Dryden was an influential English poet, literary critic, translator, and playwright who dominated the literary life of Restoration England to such a point that the period came to be known in literary circles as the Age of Dryden.Walter Scott called him "Glorious John." He was made Poet...

 is another important version. Most classic translations, including both Douglas and Dryden, employed a rhyme scheme, a very non-Roman convention that is not usually followed in modern versions.

Recent English verse translations include those by British Poet Laureate C Day Lewis (1963) which strove to render Virgil's original hexameter
Hexameter
Hexameter is a metrical line of verse consisting of six feet. It was the standard epic metre in classical Greek and Latin literature, such as in the Iliad and Aeneid. Its use in other genres of composition include Horace's satires, and Ovid's Metamorphoses. According to Greek mythology, hexameter...

 line, Allen Mandelbaum
Allen Mandelbaum
Allen Mandelbaum was a American professor of Italian literature, poet, and translator. He was the W. R...

 (honoured by a 1973 National Book Award
National Book Award
The National Book Awards are a set of American literary awards. Started in 1950, the Awards are presented annually to American authors for literature published in the current year. In 1989 the National Book Foundation, a nonprofit organization which now oversees and manages the National Book...

), Library of Congress Poet Laureate
Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress
The Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress—commonly referred to as the United States Poet Laureate—serves as the nation's official poet. During his or her term, the Poet Laureate seeks to raise the national consciousness to a greater appreciation of the reading and writing of...

 Robert Fitzgerald
Robert Fitzgerald
Robert Stuart Fitzgerald was a poet, critic and translator whose renderings of the Greek classics "became standard works for a generation of scholars and students." He was best known as a translator of ancient Greek and Latin...

 (1981), Stanley Lombardo
Stanley Lombardo
Stanley F. Lombardo is an American professor of Classics at the University of Kansas. He is best known for his translations of the Iliad, the Odyssey, and the Aeneid...

 (2005), Robert Fagles
Robert Fagles
Robert Fagles was an American professor, poet, and academic, best known for his many translations of ancient Greek classics, especially his acclaimed translations of the epic poems of Homer...

 (2006), and Sarah Ruden (2008).

Style


The Aeneid, like other classical epics, is written in dactylic hexameter
Dactylic hexameter
Dactylic hexameter is a form of meter in poetry or a rhythmic scheme. It is traditionally associated with the quantitative meter of classical epic poetry in both Greek and Latin, and was consequently considered to be the Grand Style of classical poetry...

: each line consists of six metrical feet made up of dactyls
Dactyl (poetry)
A dactyl is a foot in meter in poetry. In quantitative verse, such as Greek or Latin, a dactyl is a long syllable followed by two short syllables, as determined by syllable weight...

 (one long syllable followed by two short syllables) and spondee
Spondee
In poetry, a spondee is a metrical foot consisting of two long syllables, as determined by syllable weight in classical meters, or two stressed syllables, as determined by stress in modern meters...

s (two long syllables). As with other classical Latin poetry, the meter is based on the length of syllables rather than the stress, though the interplay of meter and stress is also important. Virgil also incorporated such poetic devices as alliteration
Alliteration
In language, alliteration refers to the repetition of a particular sound in the first syllables of Three or more words or phrases. Alliteration has historically developed largely through poetry, in which it more narrowly refers to the repetition of a consonant in any syllables that, according to...

, onomatopoeia, synecdoche
Synecdoche
Synecdoche , meaning "simultaneous understanding") is a figure of speech in which a term is used in one of the following ways:* Part of something is used to refer to the whole thing , or...

, and assonance
Assonance
Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds to create internal rhyming within phrases or sentences, and together with alliteration and consonance serves as one of the building blocks of verse. For example, in the phrase "Do you like blue?", the is repeated within the sentence and is...

.

As was the rule in classical antiquity, an author's style was seen as an expression of his personality and character. Virgil's Latin has been praised for its evenness, subtlety and dignity. It is an open question whether these were also features characteristic of Virgil the man.

Themes



Nearly the entirety of the Aeneid is devoted to the theme of conflict. The primary conflict is that of Aeneas, as guided by gods such as Jupiter
Jupiter (mythology)
In ancient Roman religion and myth, Jupiter or Jove is the king of the gods, and the god of the sky and thunder. He is the equivalent of Zeus in the Greek pantheon....

, Apollo and Venus
Venus (mythology)
Venus is a Roman goddess principally associated with love, beauty, sex,sexual seduction and fertility, who played a key role in many Roman religious festivals and myths...

, Aeneas' mother. Aeneas is representative of pietas (a self-less sense of duty), against Turnus, who is guided by Juno
Juno (mythology)
Juno is an ancient Roman goddess, the protector and special counselor of the state. She is a daughter of Saturn and sister of the chief god Jupiter and the mother of Mars and Vulcan. Juno also looked after the women of Rome. Her Greek equivalent is Hera...

, representing unbridled furor (mindless passion and fury). Furor is also personified in the character Dido, however although her furor conflicts with Aeneas' pietas, she herself is not pitted against Aeneas. Other conflicts within the Aeneid include fate versus action, male versus female, Rome versus Carthage, Aeneas as Odysseus
Odysseus
Odysseus or Ulysses was a legendary Greek king of Ithaca and the hero of Homer's epic poem the Odyssey. Odysseus also plays a key role in Homer's Iliad and other works in the Epic Cycle....

 in Books 1–6 versus Aeneas as Achilles
Achilles
In Greek mythology, Achilles was a Greek hero of the Trojan War, the central character and the greatest warrior of Homer's Iliad.Plato named Achilles the handsomest of the heroes assembled against Troy....

 in Books 7–12, calm weather versus storms, and the Gate of Horn versus the Ivory Gate
Gates of horn and ivory
The gates of horn and ivory are a literary image used to distinguish true dreams from false. The phrase originated in the Greek language, in which the word for "horn" is similar to that for "fulfil" and the word for "ivory" is similar to that for "deceive"...

 of Book VI.

Pietas, possibly the key quality of any 'honorable' Roman, consisted of a series of duties: duty towards the gods (hence the English word piety
Piety
In spiritual terminology, piety is a virtue that can mean religious devotion, spirituality, or a combination of both. A common element in most conceptions of piety is humility.- Etymology :...

), duty towards one's homeland, duty towards one's followers and duty to one's family—especially one's father. Therefore, a further theme of the poem explores the strong relationship between fathers and sons. The bonds between Aeneas and Ascanius, Aeneas and Anchises, Evander and Pallas, Mezentius and Lausus are all worthy of note. This theme reflects Augustan moral reforms and was perhaps intended to set an example for Roman youth.

The major moral of the Aeneid is acceptance of the workings of the gods as fate through the use of pietas or piety. In composing the character of Aeneas, Virgil alludes to Augustus
Augustus
Augustus ;23 September 63 BC – 19 August AD 14) is considered the first emperor of the Roman Empire, which he ruled alone from 27 BC until his death in 14 AD.The dates of his rule are contemporary dates; Augustus lived under two calendars, the Roman Republican until 45 BC, and the Julian...

, suggesting that the gods work their ways through humans, using Aeneas to found Rome and Augustus to lead it, and that one must accept one's fate.

Yet modern feminists object to the way that Aeneas treated Dido. Is this the way that the "pious Aeneas" should act? Yes, is the answer to a Roman, for Dido was all that was bad – a queen ("regina" was a more hated word than "rex" to a Roman), foreign, rich, beautiful and very alluring. Indeed she somewhat resembled Cleopatra.

Allegory


The poem abounds with smaller and greater allegories. Two of the debated allegorical sections pertain to the exit from the underworld and to Pallas's belt.

There are two gates of Sleep, one said to be of horn, whereby the true shades pass with ease, the other all white ivory agleam without a flaw, and yet false dreams are sent through this one by the ghost to the upper world. Anchises now, his last instructions given, took son and Sibyl and let them go by the Ivory Gate.

—Book VI, lines 893–899, Fitzgerald trans. (emphasis added)



Aeneas's leaving the underworld through the gate of false dreams has been variously interpreted: One suggestion is that the passage simply refers to the time of day at which Aeneas returned to the world of the living; another is that it implies that all of Aeneas's actions in the remainder of the poem are somehow "false". In an extension of the latter interpretation, it has been suggested that Virgil is conveying that the history of the world since the foundation of Rome is but a lie. Other scholars claim that Virgil is establishing that the theological implications of the preceding scene (an apparent system of reincarnation
Reincarnation
Reincarnation best describes the concept where the soul or spirit, after the death of the body, is believed to return to live in a new human body, or, in some traditions, either as a human being, animal or plant...

) are not to be taken as literal.

The second section in question is

Then to his glance appeared the accurst swordbelt surmounting Turnus' shoulder, shining with its familiar studs—the strap Young Pallas wore when Turnus wounded him and left him dead upon the field; now Turnus bore that enemy token on his shoulder—enemy still. For when the sight came home to him, Aeneas raged at the relic of his anguish worn by this man as trophy. Blazing up and terrible in his anger, he called out: "You in your plunder, torn from one of mine, shall I be robbed of you? This wound will come from Pallas: Pallas makes this offering, and from your criminal blood exacts his due." He sank his blade in fury in Turnus' chest …

—Book XII, lines 1281–1295, Fitzgerald trans. (emphasis added)



This section has been interpreted to mean that for the entire passage of the poem, Aeneas who symbolizes pietas (reason) in a moment becomes furor (fury), thus destroying what is essentially the primary theme of the poem itself. Many have argued over these two sections. Some claim that Virgil meant to change them before he died, while others find that the location of the two passages, at the very end of the so-called Volume I (Books 1–6, the Odyssey
Odyssey
The Odyssey is one of two major ancient Greek epic poems attributed to Homer. It is, in part, a sequel to the Iliad, the other work ascribed to Homer. The poem is fundamental to the modern Western canon, and is the second—the Iliad being the first—extant work of Western literature...

), and Volume II (Books 7–12, the Iliad
Iliad
The Iliad is an epic poem in dactylic hexameters, traditionally attributed to Homer. Set during the Trojan War, the ten-year siege of the city of Troy by a coalition of Greek states, it tells of the battles and events during the weeks of a quarrel between King Agamemnon and the warrior Achilles...

), and their short length, which contrasts with the lengthy nature of the poem, are evidence that Virgil placed them purposefully there.

Influence



The Aeneid is a cornerstone of the Western canon
Western canon
The term Western canon denotes a canon of books and, more broadly, music and art that have been the most important and influential in shaping Western culture. As such, it includes the "greatest works of artistic merit." Such a canon is important to the theory of educational perennialism and the...

, and early (at least by the 2nd century AD) became one of the essential elements of a Latin education, usually required to be memorized. Even after the decline of the Roman Empire
Decline of the Roman Empire
The decline of the Roman Empire refers to the gradual societal collapse of the Western Roman Empire. Many theories of causality prevail, but most concern the disintegration of political, economic, military, and other social institutions, in tandem with foreign invasions and usurpers from within the...

, it "remained central to a Latin education". In Latin-Christian culture, the Aeneid was one of the canonical texts, subjected to commentary
Commentary (philology)
In philology, a commentary is a line-by-line or even word-by-word explication usually attached to an edition of a text in the same or an accompanying volume. It may draw on methodologies of close reading and literary criticism, but its primary purpose is to elucidate the language of the text and...

 as a philological and educational study, with the most complete commentary having been written by the 4th-century grammarian Maurus Servius Honoratus. It was widely held to be the pinnacle of Latin literature, much in the same was as the Iliad was seen to head Greek literature. The strong influence of the Aeneid has been identified in the development of European vernacular literature. Some examples in English literature being Beowulf
Beowulf
Beowulf , but modern scholars agree in naming it after the hero whose life is its subject." of an Old English heroic epic poem consisting of 3182 alliterative long lines, set in Scandinavia, commonly cited as one of the most important works of Anglo-Saxon literature.It survives in a single...

, Layamon's Brut (through the source text Historia Regum Britanniae
Historia Regum Britanniae
The Historia Regum Britanniae is a pseudohistorical account of British history, written c. 1136 by Geoffrey of Monmouth. It chronicles the lives of the kings of the Britons in a chronological narrative spanning a time of two thousand years, beginning with the Trojans founding the British nation...

), The Faerie Queene
The Faerie Queene
The Faerie Queene is an incomplete English epic poem by Edmund Spenser. The first half was published in 1590, and a second installment was published in 1596. The Faerie Queene is notable for its form: it was the first work written in Spenserian stanza and is one of the longest poems in the English...

, and Milton's Paradise Lost
Paradise Lost
Paradise Lost is an epic poem in blank verse by the 17th-century English poet John Milton. It was originally published in 1667 in ten books, with a total of over ten thousand individual lines of verse...

. The importance of Latin education itself was paramount in Western culture: "from 1600 to 1900, the Latin school was at the center of European education, wherever it was found"; within that Latin school, Vergil was taught at the advanced level and, in 19th-century England, special editions of Vergil were awarded to students who distinguished themselves.

In the United States, Vergil and specifically the Aeneid were taught in the fourth year of a Latin sequence, at least until the 1960s; the current (2011) Advanced Placement curriculum in Latin continues to assign a central position to the poem: "The AP Latin: Vergil Exam is designed to test the student’s ability to read, translate, understand, analyze, and interpret the lines of the Aeneid that appear on the course syllabus in Latin."

As a result, many phrases from this poem entered the Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 language, much as passages from Shakespeare
William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon"...

 and Alexander Pope
Alexander Pope
Alexander Pope was an 18th-century English poet, best known for his satirical verse and for his translation of Homer. He is the third-most frequently quoted writer in The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, after Shakespeare and Tennyson...

 have entered the English language. One example is from Aeneas' reaction to a painting of the sack of Troy: Sunt lacrimae rerum et mentem mortalia tangunt—"These are the tears of things, and our mortality cuts to the heart" (Aeneid I, 462). The influence is also visible in very modern work: Brian Friel
Brian Friel
Brian Friel is an Irish dramatist, author and director of the Field Day Theatre Company. He is considered to be the greatest living English-language dramatist, hailed by the English-speaking world as an "Irish Chekhov" and "the universally accented voice of Ireland"...

's Translations
Translations
Translations is a three-act play by Irish playwright Brian Friel written in 1980. It is set in Baile Beag , a small village at the heart of 19th century agricultural Ireland...

 (a play written in the 1980s, set during the English colonization of Ireland), makes references to the classics throughout and ends with a passage from the Aeneid:
"Urbs antiqua fuit—there was an ancient city which, 'tis said, Juno
Juno (mythology)
Juno is an ancient Roman goddess, the protector and special counselor of the state. She is a daughter of Saturn and sister of the chief god Jupiter and the mother of Mars and Vulcan. Juno also looked after the women of Rome. Her Greek equivalent is Hera...

 loved above all the lands. And it was the goddess's aim and cherished hope that here should be the capital of all nations—should the fates perchance allow that. Yet in truth she discovered that a race was springing from Trojan blood to overthrow some day these Tyrian towers—a people late regem belloque superbum—kings of broad realms and proud in war who would come forth for Libya's downfall."


The Aeneid was the basis for the 1962 Italian film The Avenger
The Avenger (1962 film)
The Avenger is a 1962 Italian / French / Yugoslavian film directed by Giorgio Venturini.The film is also known as Conquérants héroiques in France, The Last Glory of Troy and War of the Trojans in the United Kingdom.- Plot summary :Aeneas leads escaped survivors of the Trojan war to new land...

.

In the musical Spring Awakening
Spring Awakening
Spring Awakening is a rock musical adaptation of the controversial 1892 German play of the same title by Frank Wedekind. It features music by Duncan Sheik and a book and lyrics by Steven Sater. Set in late-19th century Germany, it concerns teenagers who are discovering the inner and outer tumult of...

, based on the play of the same title by Frank Wedekind, schoolboys study the Latin text, and the first verse of Book 1 is incorporated into the number "All That's Known".

Parodies and travesties

  • A number of parodies
    Parody
    A parody , in current usage, is an imitative work created to mock, comment on, or trivialise an original work, its subject, author, style, or some other target, by means of humorous, satiric or ironic imitation...

     and travesties
    Burlesque
    Burlesque is a literary, dramatic or musical work intended to cause laughter by caricaturing the manner or spirit of serious works, or by ludicrous treatment of their subjects...

     of the Aeneid have been made. One of the earliest was written in Italian by Giovanni Batista Lalli in 1635, titled L'Eneide travestita del Signor Gio.
  • A French parody by Paul Scarron
    Paul Scarron
    Paul Scarron was a French poet, dramatist, and novelist. His precise birthdate is unknown, but he was baptized on July 4, 1610...

     became famous in France in the mid-17th century, and spread rapidly through Europe, accompanying the growing French influence. Its influence was especially strong in Russia
    Russia
    Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

    .
  • Charles Cotton
    Charles Cotton
    Charles Cotton was an English poet and writer, best known for translating the work of Michel de Montaigne from the French, for his contributions to The Compleat Angler, and for the highly influential The Compleat Gamester which has been attributed to him.-Early life:He was born at Beresford Hall...

    's work Scarronides included a travestied Aeneid.
  • In 1796, the Russian poet N. P. Osipov published travesties of several portions of the Aeneid.
  • From the late 18th to the early 19th centuries, many Slavic language folk parodies of the story were made. One of these, Енеїда (Eneyida), was written in 1798 by Ivan Kotlyarevsky
    Ivan Kotlyarevsky
    Ivan Petrovych Kotlyarevsky , was a Ukrainian writer, poet and playwright, regarded as the pioneer of modern Ukrainian literature. Kotliarevsky was a veteran of the Russo-Turkish War.- Biography :...

    . It is considered to be the first literary work written in a language close to modern Ukrainian
    Ukrainian language
    Ukrainian is a language of the East Slavic subgroup of the Slavic languages. It is the official state language of Ukraine. Written Ukrainian uses a variant of the Cyrillic alphabet....

    . His epic poem was adapted into an animated feature film of the same name, in 1991, by Ukranimafilm.

See also

  • Brutus of Troy
    Brutus of Troy
    Brutus or Brute of Troy is a legendary descendant of the Trojan hero Æneas, known in mediæval British legend as the eponymous founder and first king of Britain...


Characters in the Aeneid
  • Eridanos
    Eridanos (mythology)
    The river Eridanos or Eridanus is a river mentioned in Greek mythology. Virgil considered it one of the rivers of Hades in his Aeneid VI, 659.-Ancient references:...

  • Greek mythology
    Greek mythology
    Greek mythology is the body of myths and legends belonging to the ancient Greeks, concerning their gods and heroes, the nature of the world, and the origins and significance of their own cult and ritual practices. They were a part of religion in ancient Greece...

  • Roman mythology
    Roman mythology
    Roman mythology is the body of traditional stories pertaining to ancient Rome's legendary origins and religious system, as represented in the literature and visual arts of the Romans...

  • Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 31
    Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 31
    Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 31 contains two fragments of the first book of Virgil's Aeneid written in Latin. It was discovered by Grenfell and Hunt in 1897 in Oxyrhynchus. The fragment is dated to the fifth century. It is housed in the Cambridge University Library...

  • The Golden Bough
    The Golden Bough (mythology)
    The Golden Bough is one of the episodic tales written in the epic Aeneid, book VI, by ancient Roman poet Vergil , which narrates the adventures of the Trojan hero Aeneas after the Trojan War.-Story:...

  • Prosody (Latin)
    Prosody (Latin)
    Latin prosody deals with the science of Latin versification and its laws of meter. This article provides an overview of those laws as practised by Latin poets in the late Roman republic and early Roman empire, with verses by Catullus, Horace and Virgil as models...


Further reading

  • Buckham, Philip Wentworth; Spence, Joseph; Holdsworth, Edward; Warburton, William; Jortin, John, Miscellanea Virgiliana: In Scriptis Maxime Eruditorum Virorum Varie Dispersa, in Unum Fasciculum Collecta, Cambridge : Printed for W. P. Grant; 1825.
  • Virgil: The Aeneid (Landmarks of World Literature (Revival)) by K. W. Gransden ISBN 0-521-83213-6
  • Virgil's 'Aeneid': Cosmos and Imperium by Philip R. Hardie ISBN 0-19-814036-3
  • Brooks Otis
    Brooks Otis
    Brooks Otis was an American scholar of Classical languages and literature. Born in Boston, he graduated from Harvard in 1929, took the M.A. in 1930, and received the Ph.D. in 1935. He was one of the founders of the Intercollegiate Center for Classical Studies in Rome, Italy, in 1965...

    , Virgil: A Study in Civilized Poetry, Oxford, 1964
  • Lee Fratantuono, Madness Unchained: A Reading of Virgil's Aeneid, Lexington Books, 2007.
  • Joseph Reed, Virgil's Gaze, Princeton, 2007.
  • Kenneth Quinn, Virgil's Aeneid: A Critical Description, London, 1968.
  • Francis Cairns, Virgil's Augustan Epic, Cambridge, 1989.
  • Gian Biagio Conte, The Poetry of Pathos: Studies in Vergilian Epic, Oxford, 2007.
  • Karl Gransden, Virgil's Iliad, Cambridge, 1984.
  • Richard Jenkyns, Virgil's Experience, Oxford, 1998.
  • Wolfgang Kofler, Aeneas und Vergil. Untersuchungen zur poetologischen Dimension der Aeneis, Heidelberg 2003.
  • Eve Adler
    Eve Adler
    Eve Adler was an American classicist who taught at Middlebury College for 25 years until her death in 2004. Adler was a graduate of Queens College with a B.A. in Hebrew, of Brandeis University with a M.A. in Mediterranean Studies and of Cornell University, where she got her doctorate in Classics...

    , Vergil's Empire, Rowman and Littlefield, 2003.

Translations

– Latin text, Dryden translation, and T.C. Williams translation (from the Perseus Project)

Text


Sequels


Commentary