Aeneid Book Summaries 1-12

Brief Summaries for books 1-12 of the Aenied


Aeneid Summaries Book 1

  • Juno hates Aeneas because Carthage, her favorite city, will fall to the Romans.
  • Juno also dislikes Troy because Paris judged Venus to be the fairest.
  • Juno tells Aeolus, the god of the winds to start a storm and Aeneas has his ships scattered
  • Neptune stops the storm  7 ships survive and they head for Libya
  • When they reach the shore Aeneas comforts and motivates his men.
  • Meanwhile, on Mount Olympus, Venus calls on Jupiter to end the Trojans suffering, he comforts her with the prophecy and then sends a god down to the people of Carthage to make sure they behave hospitably to the Trojans.
  • Venus appears to Aeneas in disguise and relates to him Dido's story.
  • She advises Aeneas to go into the city and talk to the queen, who will welcome him. 
  • Aeneas and his friend Achates approach Carthage, shrouded in a cloud that Venus conjures to prevent them from being seen.
  • They see the Trojan war depicted on a temple to Juno
  • They then see their lost comrades talking to Dido, she is lamenting that she did not get to meat their leader Aeneas.
  • Aeneas steps forward out of the cloud.She invites the Trojan leaders to dine with her in her palace.
  • Venus sends down Cupid to cause Dido to fall in desperate love with Aeneas.
1 of 12

Book 2

  • Dido asks to hear to hear Aeneas' story. He obliges.
  • It starts with the wooden horse the sight of which baffles the Trojans
  • Near the horse the Tojans find Sinon
  • He tells them he escaped human sacrifce and the horse is a gift to Minerva who turned against the Greeks after they touched her diadam with bloodied hands.
  • He says if they take the horse into the city Minerva will help them defeat the Greeks
  • Then two giant serpents rise up from the sea and eat the priest Laocoön and his two sons as punishment for hurling a spear at the horse. The snakes then hide at Minervas shrine.
  • Whilst everyone sleeps Sinon releases the Greeks. Who open the gates to the army. 
  • Hector appears to Aeneas in a dream telling him of the attack. Aeneas wakes.
  • Aeneas wants to fight and goes out into the city. He see's the death of Priam by Pyrrhus. 
  • Aeneas see's Helen and wants to kill her, Venus dispuades him. She tells him to leave. 
  • Aeneas goes to his father Anchises house. He won't leave until omens appear, first a flame on Ascanius’s forehead, then a falling star in the sky.
  • Aeneas takes his father on his shoulders and his son by the hand.  
  • Creusa his wife is killed as she tries to escape. He goes back to try and find her.
  • He meets her shade who tells him he must go. 
2 of 12

Book 3

  • Aeneas continues his story, recounting the aftermath of the fall of Troy.
  • They sail first to Thrace. When he tears at the roots and branches of a tree, dark blood soaks the ground and the bark.
  • Then the spirit of Polydorus, son of Priam tells of his death by the thracian king. 
  • They sail southward to the holy island of Delos.
  • Apollo speaks to Aeneas instructing him to go to the land of his ancestors.
  • Anchises interprets Apollo’s remark as a reference to the island of Crete.
  • They sail to Crete and began to build a new city, but a terrible plague soon strikes. 
  • The Trojan refugees take to the sea again they land at the Strophades, islands of the Harpies who attack as they feast, one curses that they will eat their tables.
  • Next, they set sail in the direction of Italy until they reach Buthrotum, in Chaonia. Aeneas finds Helenus a son of Priam and Andromache.
  • Helenus advises Aeneas his journey and how to avoid Charybdis.
  • They leave and rest on a beach but leave when the Cyclopes arrive.
  • Aeneas' father dies at DrepanumSailing around Sicily, they pass several recognizable landmarks before landing at Drepanum.
  • Aeneas turns to Dido and concludes his story by saying that divine will has driven him to her shores.
3 of 12

Book 4

  • The flame of love in Dido's heart grows. She feels guilty for her husband Sychaeous.
  • Anna, her sister, tells her a marriage could strengthen their city and she is consumed with love again.
  • Work on her city stops.
  • Venus and Juno plot for the two to have sex in a cave. Dido interprets this as marriage.
  • When Jupiter learns of Dido and Aeneas’s affair, he dispatches Mercury to Carthage to remind Aeneas that his destiny lies elsewhere and that he must leave for Italy. 
  • Aeneas obeys, Dido is in a rage but Aeneas still plans to go.
  • Dido instructs Anna to build a great pyre in the courtyard. Dido says, she can rid Aeneas from her mind by burning all of his things.
  • Dido is infact planning her own death. 
  • Mercury hurrys Aeneas again and he leaves at once.
  • Dido sees the fleet leaving and falls into her final despair.
  • She climbs upon the pyre and unsheathes a sword Aeneas has left behind. She throws herself upon the blade and with her last words curses her absent lover. 
  • As Anna and the servants run up to the dying queen, Juno takes pity on Dido and ends her suffering and her life.
4 of 12

Book 5

  • A storm causes the fleet to stop at Eryx, fellow Trojan Acestes rules.
  • Aeneas proposes eight days of sacrificial offerings and a ninth day of competitive games in honor of the anniversary of his fathers death.
  • The games begin with a rowing race and lavish prizes are bestowed upon the competitors.
  • Next comes the footrace. Euryalus wins the race, but Aeneas, hands out prizes to all.
  • Next they box.  Entellus kills his prize, a bull,  with a single devastating punch that spills the beast’s brains.
  • Next, the archery contest commences. 
  • Then the youths of Troy and Sicily ride about on horseback in a mock battle. 
  • Meanwhile, Juno’s gets Iris to stir the Trojan women to riot. 
  • They burn the ships but a divine rain storm puts the fire out. 
  • Aeneas lets the women, old, frail and injured stay in the care of Acestes. 
  • Anchises visits Aeneas in a dream telling him to visit him in the underworld. 
  • Venus, fearing more tricks from Juno, worries about the group’s safety at sea. She pleads with Neptune to let Aeneas reach Italy without harm.
  • Neptune agrees but demands that one of the crew perish on the voyage. 
  • Palinurus, captain of Aeneas’s fleet, falls asleep at the helm and falls into the sea.
5 of 12

Book 6

  • They arrive on the shores of Italy. 
  • As per his father’s instructions, Aeneas makes for the Temple of Apollo to meet the Sibyl
  • The priestess warns him that more trials await in Italy andAeneas asks to enter Dis
  • The sibyl tells him he must find a golden branch in the nearby forest. 
  • A pair of doves descends and guides him to the desired tree, from which he manages to tear the golden branch. 
  • In Dis the Sibyl explains why some can't cross the water and Aeneas spots Palinurus.
  • The golden bough allows Aeneas to cross.
  • Aeneas see's Dido in the  Fields of Mourning, her shade turns to her husband. 
  • They pass the field of heroes and Rhadamanthus giving out punishments. A
  • Finally, Aeneas and the Sibyl come to the Blessed Groves, where the good wander.
  • Anchises answers Aeneas questions and shows him the pageant of heroes. 
  • He introduces the soul that when he re-enters the world of the living will become Augustus 
  • Aeneas grasps the importance of his mission . 
  • Anchises accompanies Aeneas out of Dis, and Aeneas returns to his comrades on the beach. 
  • At once, they pull up anchor and move out along the coast.
6 of 12

Book 7

  • They reach the mouth of the River Tiber, near the kingdom of Latium. 
  • The muse describes the political state of affairs.
  • The kings only daughter Lavinia must marry a foreigner yet she is pursuid by suitors.
  • Aeneas and his men end up eating their tables (bread)
  • The next day envoys ask King Latinus for land to start a new city. Latinus accepts and also offers Aeneas Lavinia to fulfill the prophecy. 
  • Juno is still bitter to the Trojans. 
  • She sends Allecto, one of the Furies, to Latium to rouse anger  in the natives.
  • Allecto infects Queen Amata then approaches Turnus causing him to become angry at Lavinias proposed marriage. 
  • Turnus assembles his army and prepares to drive the Trojans out of Italy.
  • Ascanius whilst hunting then kills a pet stag, the animal staggers back to his master before dying. 
  • The herdsman summons the other shepherds who join in the attack,
  • Many Latins are slain in a brief skirmish, then each side retreats temporarily. 
  • Latinus being weak retreats to his chambers and Turnus amasses a great army, captained by the greatest warriors in Italy, and marches them to war.
7 of 12

Book 8

  • The river god Tiberinus s tells Aeneas to form an alliance with the Arcadians, who are also at war with the Latins.
  • Aeneas rows up the Tiber to the forest of the Arcadians. There, the Trojans address the Arcadian king, Evander, who gladly offers aid against their common enemy and invites Aeneas to a feast.
  • After the feast, holy rites are performed in honor of Hercules, the patron of the Arcadians, who killed the monster Cacus near where Arcadia now stands.
  • Evander lives comfortably in a modest house.
  • Venus has Vulcan make Aeneas new armour.
  • Evander dispatches troups including  Pallas, his own son, and requests that Aeneas teach Pallas the arts of war and return him home in safety.
  • Venus suddenly appears to Aeneas and presents him with the arms that Vulcan has completed.
  • The face of the shield is particularly notable, for on it Vulcan has depicted the story of the Roman glory that awaits Italy.
  • Aeneas sees Romulus being nursed by the she-wolf, the defeat of the Gauls, Caesar Augustus as he defeats Antony and Cleopatra at the battle of Actium, and much else.
8 of 12

Book 9

  • Juno sends Iris to Turnus, to tell him that Aeneas is away from camp.
  • The Trojans hide in their newly constructed fortress
  • Turnus decides to circumnavigate the camp and set fire to the defenseless ships anchored on the shore.
  • A blessing protects the ships. They suddenly pull loose of their anchors, submerge, and reappear as sea nymphs. 
  • Turnus remains brave while his men are fearful of the gods action. 
  • Night falls, and the Latins make camp around the Trojan fortress.
  • Two men eager for glory sneak out to inform Aeneas, not before killing a few Latin captains.
  • Both end up killed.
  • Then the Latins attack. Turnus and his men collapse a tower, killing many Trojans inside.
  • The Trojans begin to panic, but Ascanius renews their hopes.
  • The Trojans open the gates and surprise the Latins by rushing out in attack.
  • Turnus pushes them back into the fortress and gets in himself. 
  • In a moment of greed he slaughters many Trojans but does not think to let his army in. 
  • He narrowly escapes by jumping into the Tiber and floating back out to his comrades.
9 of 12

Book 10

  • Jupiter summons council. The gods argue. Jupiter stops Juno from avoiding fate.
  • The Latins continue their siege of the Trojan fortress, and Aeneas journeys back toward the battle.
  • Turnus spots the ships approaching and leads his troops toward the beach to confront them. The Trojans disembark, and the battle commences.
  • Aeneas strikes the first blows, cutting down several of Turnus’s men. 
  • Turnus kills Pallas, taking his baldric. 
  • Word of Pallas’s death reaches Aeneas, who flies into a rage. He gives no mercy.
  • Turnus chases a phantom Aeneas onto a boat which begins to float out to sea, it was sent by Juno who wanted to save him.
  • In Turnus’s absence, the great Latin warrior Mezentius takes up the fight. He slays many brave Trojans, but loses heart when Aeneas takes down his son, Lausus. 
  • Aeneas cuts down Mezentius spelling defeat for the Latin army.
10 of 12

Book 11

  • The day after the battle Aeneas sends 1000 men with Pallas' body back to Evander. 
  • When Evander hears of his son’s death, he is crushed, but forgives Aeneas.
  • The Latins request a 12 day truce. 
  • They decide that the marriage to Lavinia should be settled by a duel between Aeneas a Turnus only. 
  • The council begins to turn against Turnus, who, back from his foray on the ship, responds in anger. 
  • Turnus agrees to fight and he will do so without fear.
  • Just at that moment, a messenger arrives to warn the Latins that the Trojans are marching toward the city.
  • Turnus rushes off to lay a trap for the Trojan leader, leaving the city to Camilla.
  • Soon the Trojans reach the field in front of the city, and the battle begins. 
  • Camilla proves the fiercest warrior present, scattering Aeneas’s troops.
  • Camilla is killed and the Latin troops scatter and flee back to the city. 
  • Camilla’s companion Acca goes off to inform Turnus that the Latins lack a leader.
  • Turnus is forced to return to the city just as Aeneas passes by the place of the ambush. 
  • Aeneas and Turnus return to their respective armies to make camp as night falls.
11 of 12

Book 12

  • Turnus decides to go and fight Aeneas alone for both the kingdom and Lavinia’s hand. 
  • King Latinus and Queen Amata protest but a treaty is drawn and the armies assemble.
  • Juno calls Juturna, his sister, and tells her to watch out for Turnus.
  • Juturna, not wanting her brother to fight spurs the Latins to attack 
  • An unprovoked shot ignites both armies and Aeneas is wounded by an arrow.
  • Venus sends down a balm which closes the wound and Aeneas returns to the battle.
  • Suddenly Aeneas attacks the city. Amata loses hope and hangs herself. 
  • Turnus calls for the fight to end and for Aeneas to emerge and fight him hand-to-hand
  • The duel begins. At Turnus’s first strike, his sword suddenly breaks and he fleas.
  • Juno finally gives in, on one condition: she wants theTrojans to take on the name and the language of the Latins. Jupiter gladly agrees.
  • Jupiter sends down one of the Furies, who assumes the form of a bird and flaps and shrieks in front of Turnus, filling him with terror and weakening him. 
  • Aeneas casts his mighty spear and strikes Turnus’s leg, and Turnus falls.
  • Turnus pleads for mercy, Aeneas is moved, but then he sees the baldric of pallas.
  • As Aeneas remembers his death, his rage returns in a surge.
  • In the name of Pallas, Aeneas drives his sword into Turnus, killing him.
12 of 12


No comments have yet been made

Similar Classical Civilization resources:

See all Classical Civilization resources »