The Aeneid - Book Summaries

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Book 1

Seven years on from the fall of Troy, the Trojans, led by Aeneas have been sailing the Meditterranean, searching for their new home they've learnt will be Italy. They've just left Sicily and believe they are on the last leg of their journey (bless). However Juno, queen of the gods, learns that fate has it that her favourite city, Carthage, will one day be destroyed by a race descended from the Trojans, and so she arranges for Aeolus to release the winds and destroy the Trojan fleet. Some of the fleet is destroyed and some is scattered. Aeneas manages to reach the coast of Libya, where his mother (Venus), disgused as a Spartan girl, tells him to make for Carthage. Here, he is welcomed by Queen Dido and is reunited with the rest of his men who survived Juno's rage. Dido invites the Trojans to a banquet, where Venus has arranged for Cupid to make Dido fall in love with Aeneas. Dido asks Aeneas to tell the story of the Fall of Troy, and about their journeys since then.

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Book 2

- The first half of this book is a flashback.

After 10 years of fighting, the Greeks act as if they have given up and sail away from Troy (but only to the nearby island of  Tenedos). They leave Sinon to convince the Trojans to take the huge wooden horse (filled with the best of the Greek soldiers) inside their city walls. Laocoon, a priest of Neptune, trys to warn the Trojans not to trust the Greeks - ''I am afraid of Greeks, even when they bear gifts'' (l.49), however the gods are against the Trojans, and two serpents come out of the sea, killing Laocoon and his two sons. Taking this as a sign that Laocoon had upset the gods, they drag the horse inside their city walls, where, in the dead of night, Sinon releases the Greeks into the Troy. Aeneas has a dream, in which Hector tells him to flee the city, and wakes to find Troy burning. He springs into the fight, where he sees Priam slayed by Achilles' son, Pyrrhus. Overwhelmed by hate for Helen, Aeneas turns to kill her when Venus stops him by allowing him to see the role the gods are playing in Troys destruction. Realising Troy is lost, Aeneas goes to get his family. His father, Anchises, refuses to leave, but is finally persuaded to leave by an omen from Zeus. Aeneas, Anchises, his wife Creusa and their son, Ascanius, make to leave Troy. However on the way, Creusa goes missing, so Aeneas goes back for her, only to be greeted by her ghost who tells him his destiny and persuades him to go back to the others. The surviver of Troy band together on Mount Ida.

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Book 3

In Dido's palace, Aeneas continues his story, telling how he and his comrades spent the winter building a fleet, and then they sailed around the Meditteranean after their escape. (This book covers 6 years of wanderings). After unsuccessfully trying to settle in Thrace, they landed in Delas (Apollo's birthplace). Here, they receive a prophecy from Apollo, telling them to go ''to the land which first cradled the race from which you were sprung''. Anchises mistakes this for Crete, and so they settled there for a few months, until a plague forces them to leave, and a vision of their House gods, the Penates, bids them to make for Hesperia (Italy).

 After leaving they ar driven by a storm up the west coast of Greece, where they seek refuge in the Straphades Islands, home of the Harpies. Next they travel past Ithaca to Actium, and then to Buthraton, a land ruled by Achilles, but passed down tohis his cruel son Pyrrhus upon his death. Among his slaves captured from Troy is Hector's Widow, Adromache, and Helenus, one of Priam's sons. When Orestes murdered Pyrrhus, Helenus became king, taking Adromache as his queen. Aeneas and his fleet stay with them for nearly a year but, knowing that they are destined for Italy, Aeneas asks Helenus, with his prophetic powers, which dangers to avoid. he tells them to sail down the east coast of Italy, around Sicily, the up the west coast to Cumae, where further instructions await. Upon reaching Sicily, they encounter the terrifying Cyclops, and travel next to Drepanum, where Anchises dies. Aeneas learns to accept his fate, and transforms from the impetuous soldier (book II) into a resourceful leader that the new communuty in Italy will need.

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Book 5

A storm causes the Trojans to divert to Sicily, where Trojan Acestes rules. It's the year anniversary of Achises death, and so they have 8 days of sacrifice and a day of funeral games. 

( Rowing race - Gyas leads but Cloanthus prays to Neptune and wins. All receive prizes. Footrace - Nisus leads but slips on blood and Euryalus wins. Boxing - Darus challenges anyone and Entellus wins, then kills the prize bull with 1 punch. Archery - Eurytion shoots a dove, Acestes' arrow catches fire. Followed by mock battles. )

Juno sends Iris to stirr up the Trojan women. Tired of their wanderings, the women set fire to the ships, but Aeneas prays to Jupiter who sends rain to extinguish the flames. Nautes tells Aeneas to leave the frail ,weary women, children and old men in Sicily under Acestes rule. Achises' ghost agrees, and tells Aeneas to visit him in the underworld to speak. After they set sail again, Palinaurus falls into the sea and dies.

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Book 6

The Trojans land in Cumae. Aeneas goes to the temple of Apollo to consult with the Sibyl, who warns him of a huge battle, and tells him he needs to find the golden bough in the woods, which he must take down o the underworld as a gift to Proserpina if he wishes to see his father there. Once he has the branch, he and the Sibyl make their way down through a cave next to Lake Arenus. The first region they pass through is full of monsters, like Greif and Agony. They reach the river Acheran, where the ghosts of those left unburied have to wait, unable to cross. The Sibyl shows Charon (ferryman) the Golden Bough, and he takes them across. After drugging the watchdog Cerberus, they come to the Plains of Mourning, where they find all those who have died an early death. here Aeneas finds Dido, but she refuses to talk to him. Next they pass by tartarus, where sinners are punished, to Elysium, where Aeneas is reunited withhis father. There are a throng of souls waiting, and Anchises how souls are reborn after purification. He points out the soulsd of men who will be famous in Roman history. Aeneas and Sibyl return to the real world. 

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Book 7

Virgil again asks the muse to introduce the Second half of Aeneas' journey. Virgil's theme starts with Roman history, the battles Aeneas will have to fight with people who will, eventually, join the Roman race. Once he wins the war, he can found the city. Juno uses Allecto to rouse the powers of hell against the Trojans. Aeneas sails north from Cumae to the mouth of the river Tiber. 

Virgl explains Latinus and Lavinia's situation. Turnus is favourite to marry Lavinia, but two omens and a prochecy reveal to him that his daughter should marry a foreigner. On landing, Aeneas feels they are finally in Italy, and the next morning, starts building a military camp on the coast, and sends 100 ambassadors to make peace with Latinus. Latinus welcomes them and recalls that the Trojan founder, Dardanus, was from Lavinium. They give Latinus gifts in echange for land, and Latinus promises peace, and Lavinia as bride t oAeneas if he will come to Latinus himself. Juno is livid with the Trojan successes, and sends the Fury, Allecto, to provoke war. In the fever she stirs, Queen Amata is driven mad, Turnus is made blood thirsty and Iulus (Ascanius) is put into trouble by shooting a beloved stag. LAtinus refuses to react, and wont open the gates of war, but Juno does it herself.

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Book 8

Turnus asks for the help of Dimede in his war against the Trojans. The river-god Tiberinus tells Aeneas to make an alliance with King Evander,who lives in the settlment of Pallanteum (future site of Rome). The current is magically stilled the next day, and they head to Pallanteum where they are welcomed by Evander, who explains they are in the middle of a festival for Hercules.                                - Hercules had killed a giant named Cacus who, from his cave up on the Aventine hill, had bee nterrorising the people.                                                                                                                                              That evening Evander tells Aeneas the history o Latium - the supposed golden age under Saturn, and takes hium on a tour of the city, exploring the origins of numerous Roman sites and names. On Olympia, Venus convinces Vulcan to make Aeneas magic armour. At the same time Evander promises to help Aeneas. He tells Aeneas to seek out alliance with the Etruscans and their leader, Tarchan. He tells Aeneas he'll be welcomed because their previous King, Menzentius, whom was banished for his appauling cruelty, was now being helped by Turnus. The Etruscans had been warned by an oracle that only a foreigner (Aeneas) could lead them to sucess in war. Aeneas sees a miraculous sign in the sky and Evanders son, Pallas, acompanies him. On entering the Etruscan camp, Aeneas is met by Venus, who gives hiom the armour. The sheild is engraved with Roman history - this was Virgil's way of linking the distant legendary past with his own time.

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Book 9

While Aeneas is away, Juno sends Iris to tell Turnus to attack the Trojans. The Trojans remain safely within their ramparts, as instructed by Aeneas before his departure, and so Turnus sets fire to their ships, which magically turn into beautiful sea nymphs and swim safely away. Nisus notices that the Italians are becoming careless, and makes plans to slip through the blockade and take news to Aeneas. Euryalus decides to join, and they set off at night. They encounter  drunk Italian soldiers on their way and slaughter them, however they are seen by an enemy cavalry unit, pursued and killed. The following day them Italians assult the Trojan ramparts, wit the heads of Nisus and Euryalus displayed on spears. There are many casualties on both sides, and Ascanius wins praise for maknig his first kill. Pandarus and Bitias open the gates and Turnus gets in. Instead of opening the gates again and letting his troops in, he goes for personal glory and kills many trojans, until he is forced to escape by diving into the river Tiber. 

- Virgil shows his distaste for war through brutal description and enticing the reader to feel sympathy for those who are the victims of war.

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Book 10

Jupiter calls a council of the gods to tell them there will be no more divine intervention in the human war, to the objections of Venus and Juno - the outcome is to be left to Fate. Aeneas sails back with a fleet of thirty ships filled with Etruscan warriors and Evander's forces. During the night, before the fleet finally lands, the sea nymphs who were previously Aeneas's ships approach the fleet. Their leader, Cymodocea, tells Aeneas about the siege of his troops. The Trojans see Aeneas arrive in his magnificent armor, they take heart. Turnus and his forces launch an attack on Aeneas as soon as they land. Pallas, proving his own courage, rallies his men when their spirits wane. He leads them in attacking the forces of Lausus, Mezentius’ son, whom he engages in a battle of equals: Both are young, brave, and handsome. Pallas is killed by Turnus, who spears him and takes his richly illustrated swordbelt as a trophy. Enraged by Pallas's death, Aeneas kills his way through the enemy ranks in search of Turnus. Jupiter, waving his rule against intervention, allows Juno to save Turnus by creating a shadow-Aeneas as a diversion of whom Turnus mistakes  for the real man and pursues him on board a ship, which Juno then floats off to sea. After a vain search for him Aeneas settles for a duel with Mezentius, whom he wounds in the groin. Unable to continue fighting, Mezentius drags himself to safety while Lausus takes up the fight. Aeneas warns Lausus not to fight him, but when Lausus scoffs at this advice, Aeneas effortlessly kills him, only to be moved to pity by Lausus's death and the young man's selfless love for his father. Mezentius, still wounded, rides off to avenge his son. He fights bravely, but is killed by Aeneas.

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Book 11

The Trojans are left in command of the battlefield at the begining of this book. Aeneas sends Pallas' body back to Evander, and a twelve-day truce is concluded between the sides to allow them to bury their dead. The Latins hold a ouincil of war. A report is heard from the embassy which had been sent to ask for the help of Diomede, announcing his refusal to risk meeting the Trojans again. LAtinus recommends peace, on almost any terms. Drances supports him, and urges a duel between Turnas and Aeneas to decide the war. Turnus argues that the war is neither lost nor hopeless: however he is readt to face Aeneas in single combat. But, while discussing, news comes of a Trojan advance and the war is renewed. The remainder of the book is mainly dedicated to a cavalry battle. The Italian forces are led by a warrior princess, Camilla. It ends with her death (not a noble one. She is avenged by Opis, a nymph sent by Diana) and the defeat of the Latins. Turnus is told of Camilla’s death, abandons his plan to ambush the Trojans and returns to city.  Night comes and both armies encamped in front of Latinus' city. The war turns strongly in favour of Aeneas. He is now shown as a resourceful and confident as fear spreads amung his enemies. 

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Book 12: Part 1

Acknowledging the Latins are in danger, Turnus agrees again to a single combat with Aeneas. Latinus and Amata try to dissuade him, but he sends a herald to inform Aeneas that there will be a truce and that the two will duel tomorrow at dawn. That night Turnus and Aenas prepare for war with growing apetite. At dawn, the two armies meet on a plain outside the city. However Juno summons Turnus' sister Juturna and disguises her as a Rutulian, urging the others to break the truce. Just as they are about to attack they see a omen: a pack of waterfowl dive and threaten an eagle that has seized a swan. When the eagle releases the swan, the Rutulians take this as a sign they will be victorious if they resist Aeneas. Augur, a presit adept with reading bird omens, encourages them by hurling his spear at the Trojans and initiates a fight. Aeneas vainly tries to restore peace, but is wounded by an arrow and is dorced to leave the field. The physician Lapyx can't remove the arrow, so Venus does so with a supernatural potion that removes the arrow and heals the wound. Aeneas returns to the battle, but Venus focus' his attention on the Latin's city that has been left unprotected. Aenas and the Trojans attac kthe city to the horror of Amata who, fearing all is lost, hangs herself. When Turnus hears of this news, hye tells his men to stop fighting and leave him to single combat with Aeneas. They meet outside of the city once again.

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Book 12: Part 2 - Aeneas' and Turnus' fight in det

Zeus weighs the scales and leaves the fight down to the strength of each man. Both Turnus and Aeneas throw spears at each other and miss.Turnus, full of confidence, strikes Aeneas with his sword, which he has not his realised isn't his own, and the sword shatters on Aeneas' divinely made armour. Turnus calls on his men to bring him his actual sword, which is too divinely made by Vulcan, Turnus withdraws and runs terrified from Aneneas who pursues him. Aeneas throws his sword at Turnus, but it gets lodged immovably in the trunk of a sacred olive tree in answer to Turnus's prayer to the god Faunus. Juturna brings ger brother his true sword, but Venus intervenes enabling Aeneas to retreive his spear. The duel continues, watched by Jupiter and Juno from a golden cloud. Jupiter tells her that Aeneas is about to win and she can interfer no more. She promises to to cease her opposition to the Trojans, as long as the Latins can retain both their name and their language. Jupiter tell Juno that out of the Latin and Trojan alliance will come an indomitable race (final prophecy). Jupiter sends a Fury to earth disguised as an owl to terrify Turnus. Juturna withdraws, realising she is helpless in the face of such an omen. Turnus makes one final effort and lauches a hige rock at Aeneas, but it falls short. Aeneas throws his spear at Turnus and wounds him in the thigh. Turnus tells Aeneas he is resigned to dying, but pleads that he return his body to his father. Aeneas is moved by this plea, and considers sparing him, but then sees that he is wearing the swordbelt he stole from the murdered Pallas, and remorselessly thrusts his sword into Turnus's chest, killing him. 

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