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Humanities

Overview of The Aeneid


 Author: Virgil
 A paramount poet of the Roman Empire
 Known by many as the BEST poet of his time
 Born: 70 BC
 Lived during the height of the Roman Empire,
under the reign of Augustus
 He witnessed much turmoil that was taking
place in Rome, and this greatly affected the way
he viewed the world, his life, and ultimately, it
affected his writings.
 His name derives from the Latin word, virga,
which means “wand”. This reflects the belief
that many of that time held—a poet is a great
magician, capable of conjuring dead spirits
through his writing.
Reason for Writing The Aeneid
 Augustus pressed Virgil to write the epic in order to
illustrate the glory of Rome due to his leadership.
 Although Virgil was proud that Augustus believed he
could accomplish the task, he was never really happy
about it.
 To Virgil, this task was a duty he had no choice but to
perform.
 Virgil and Augustus traveled together to Italy, and after
contracting a terrible fever, Virgil died in 19 BC.
 Some say that Virgil had requested his executer, Varius,
to destroy the masterpiece, feeling as though it was
incomplete and needed further editing. Although this
has not been proved, many suspect that Augustus
refused to allow this, and the epic was published
against Virgil’s wishes.
 Virgil spent 11 years working on this manuscript, and
although many consider him to be a highly successful
poet, many modern critics accuse him of borrowing
heavily from Homer, author of The Iliad and The
Odyssey.
Summary of The Aeneid
The Aeneid tells the story of Aeneas, a Trojan hero, and his
journey to Italy following the Trojan War.
 Remember: In The Iliad, Poseidon
rescues Aeneas from a battle with Achilles,
declaring that Aeneas WILL survive the
Trojan War and become a strong leader.
 There were many accounts of Aeneas that
existed during the time of Virgil’s writing
the epic. His perilous journey was featured
in artwork as well as in other, smaller
works of literature. These accounts were
scattered, however, and Virgil is credited
with putting them all together into one,
complete work.
 It is important to remember that the
accounts in the epic are based upon
Roman Legend.
Summary of The Aeneid
 The Trojans are fleeing from Troy, which
has been destroyed by the Greeks.
Aeneas tells many truths about the loss
of King Priam, his wife, amongst others.
 They are traveling to Italy, stopping
along the way and meeting many others,
including a love interest for Aeneas.
 Curses are placed upon the crew, and
they are met with many successes and
failures along their journey.
 With the constant interference of the
gods and goddesses, Aeneas and his
people face many hardships, and their
courage is challenged.
 When they finally arrive in Italy, they do
so peacefully. Yet, fate has another
plan, and Aeneas is once again
challenged, both mentally and physically,
to save the future of his people.
Key Points to Know
 Genre: Heroic Epic
 Type of Work: Epic Poem
 Hence, you will see many of the epic
conventions we have become so familiar
with
 Narrator: Virgil for majority of epic;
Aeneas will provide his own insight
 Tone: honoring Rome, yet sympathetic
to the suffering of the Trojans
 Setting (time): aftermath of Trojan War,
1000BC
 Setting (place): The Mediterranean,
north coast of Asia Minor, Italy, and
Carthage.

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