(70-19 BC)


(Composed between 30 & 19 BC)


Be alert to the patterns of beginnings and endings for each of the assigned books of the Aeneid.


 Be prepared to respond to each of the following queries, and to briefly summarize each assigned book of the Aeneid.  To facilitate class discussion always refer to book and line numbers.  See the glossary to the Aeneid and also Grimal for handy reminders about characters and places.




1.       Who is Aeneas? (N.B. You will be tracing his development as a hero throughout the epic.)


2.       What is the first major event of the Aeneid?


3.       Who is Juno and why is she furious? How does Virgil describe her fury. Compare the opening lines (1-15 or so) of the Aeneid with those of the Iliad and the Odyssey.


4.       Who is Aeolus?  (Where have we met him before?) What is his part in Juno’s plan?


5.       How does Neptune respond to events?  Why?


6.       What does the first simile of the Aeneid (209–216) tell us, and why? Be alert to similies in the Aeneid and their function compared with Homeric similies.


7.       Where does Aeneas’ ship land?               


8.       What do we learn from lines 256–270?


9.       Why does Venus supplicate Jupiter? How does Jupiter respond to her? (Who is Venus’ counterpart in the Greek pantheon?)


10.   Who is Dido and how does she receive Aeneas and his men?


11.   What is her story?  Who is Sychaeus? Describe her circumstance when Aeneas arrives.


12.   Discuss Venus in conjunction with Dido. How do Ascanius and Cupid figure in the relationship?





1.                  Identify and describe in general terms the three main segments of this book.


2.                  Who is Sinon?  Discuss his character.


3.                  What does Sinon’s role reveal about the Greeks?  About the Trojans?


4.                  Who is Laocoön?  What effect does his presence have on the action?


5.                  What image coils itself around Book two? Discuss in detail the significance   of this symbol.


6.                  Who is Priam and what events are relevant to him?


7.                  Identify the following: 

a.       Anchises

b.      Creusa

c.       Ascanius.


8.                  Do all flames burn with equal heat in Book two? ( A consuming question)    Be specific in your discussion.


9.                  How does this book conclude?



  1. Comment on the imagery of the first lines of IV, noting the terms “wound” and “flame.” What does Virgil achieve through the use of these metaphors? Where else in IV are these images repeated or elaborated?


  1. Consider lines 90–97 in light of I.256–265. Does the adumbration become clear in IV? Discuss.           


  1. Virgil orchestrates the hunt episode in light of the images and suggestions offered for your consideration in numbers 1 & 2 above. Comment on Virgil’s construction of events and the artistry he displays.


  1. Do Juno and Venus agree on anything?  Explain.


  1. Who is Anna and what is her role relative to the events in IV?


  1. Who is Iarbas? What influence does Rumor have upon him?  How does he articulate his prejudice against the Trojans?


  1. Why does the god Mercury appear in Carthage? Focus on his speech to Aeneas at IV.333 ff.


  1. Outline the arguments presented by Dido and by Aeneas regarding their “marriage.” So, are they married or just messing around?


  1. Is there any irony in Mercury’s words to Aeneas at 786 ff.? (Look up irony in a dictionary to confirm it’s often misunderstood meaning).


  1. What lessons does Aeneas learn from Dido? Why is Aeneas’ year in Carthage essential to his fated mission?


  1. Keeping in mind the final scene (beginning at IV. 888), contrast Dido with Aeneas. Recall Dido’s curse on Aeneas.


  1. Who is Iris and what is her role? Who is her parallel in the Odyssey?




  1. Comment on the transition/continuity of V & VI. 


  1. Read carefully VI.19–47.  Why is this tale recounted in detail?  Are there any  details that spark your curiosity?


  1. How does Aeneas know to speak as he does at 105 ff.?


  1. How are the burial of Misenus and the discovery of the golden bough linked?


  1. Why does Aeneas descend to the underworld? (Why did Odysseus visit the afterlife?)


  1. Does Aeneas’ meeting with Dido seem familiar for some reason? Do you hear an echo from another meeting, another epic? Which? whose?


  1. Note the distinct regions of the underworld. Cite examples of the inhabitants of the various regions. 


  1. Summarize Anchises’ theory of metempsychosis (Look up metempsychosis in a dictionary). (Those with an interest in literary influence may want to read the myth of Er in Plato’s Republic, book 10.)


  1. What is the cumulative effect on Aeneas of the parade Roman history?


  1. Speculate (along with countless generations of readers of the Aeneid) on the significance of Aeneas’ departure from the underworld through the gate of ivory.


  1. How does the purpose of Aeneas’ visit to the underworld compare and contrast with Odysseus visit to the afterlife?


  1. Ask a question.



  1. Note carefully and comment on 45–54.  Compare with I.1–18.


  1. What is the character of early Italy?  (Consider especially 267–271)  Compare it to Jupiter’s prophecy in Book I.  What is the effect on Italy of the Trojans arrival?  What have they to offer the native Latins?


  1. What is the poet’s attitude toward causes and legitimacy of war?  Consider the symbolism of Allecto (who is this lovely one?) and her effect on Amata, Turnus, and the common people.  Where else does such symbolism occur?


  1. Who is Sylvia? What does the stag signify? Didn’t we meet a stag or two...or seven, in an earlier book? Is Virgil merely staggering about, or has he a staggering strategy? (628–711)


  1. Consider Turnus’ initial appearance and initial speech. Contrast him with Aeneas. Who’s prettier?


  1. What seems to be the purpose in VII of the elaborate parallels with Book I?  Consider the following events/images:
    • The Trojans explore land
    • The generous welcome:  by Dido;  by Latinus
    • The wounded deer
    • The Gates of War
    • Dido and Amata as bacchantes (followers of Bacchus [Dionysus])
    • Intervention by Juno:  Physical storm---------spiritual storm
    • Aeolus-----------Allecto


  1. How do you interpret the reverse order in VII of landing, welcome, storm of Juno?


  1. Recall the Parade of Italian heroes. Be able to comment on each of the following:

                       Mezentius (854 ff.)

                       Lausus (857-863)

                       Camilla (1055-1072)—Compare her with Penthesilea and Dido.  Note her shepherd’s staff with the spear head.  What is the effect of ending the

book this way?

            (NB:  Aeneas doesn’t appear at all. Comment.)


  1. Consider the prophecies of the Roman future.  Are they changing in character?




1.                  Describe the main purpose of this book.


2.                  What is the function of the god of the Tiber?


3.                  Who is Evander and what is his relation to Hercules?


4.                  Do you sense any parallels between Hercules and Aeneas? Be specific. Cite relevant lines.


5.                  Who is Cacus and what is his significance?


6.                  What transpires during the interlude among the gods?


7.                  Describe the shield of Aeneas. Is Book VI relevant in any way to the events depicted on the shield? Who creates the shield?


8.                  What are the differences between the shield of Aeneas at the shield of Achilleus at Iliad 18? What do these differences tell us about the purposes of       the two epics?




1.                  The Italians have experienced their second military defeat.  XII takes place during that night and the following day. Outline the three large sections of XII, summarizing the events at 1–422, 423–927, and 928–1271.


2.                  What is the importance of the description with which Virgil opens XII?  How is it related to Book I?


3.                  Who is Juturna and what is her significance?


4.                  How does Virgil portray Aeneas at 423?


5.                  What is Turnus’ reaction to the news reported by the wounded messenger at 886 and the few following (ff) lines? How do Turnus’ words to Juturna confirm the simile at XI.643?


6.                  What are we to make of men who throw stones?  Turnus has this nasty habit in common with Hercules (see VIII.309 ff.), and yet acts like Cacus. This is getting confusing.  How can you explain it to your instructor?


7.                  Is Aeneas still a pawn of destiny, pious and dutiful to the end?


8.                  For such a complex epic, the Aeneid ends rather abruptly. . .or does it?  Offer an interpretation of lines 1252–1272.  What is the final focus?  Why?


9.                  Compare the ending of the Aeneid to the ending of the Iliad.