The Aeneid- Book by book summary with some analysis and context

  • Created by: Rachel
  • Created on: 13-06-12 13:52

The Aeneid Summary

Book 1

  • Begins with Virgil revealing the subject of the epic- the toils of Aeneas to establish a new civilisation.
  • There is an evocation of the muse, typical of the epic form.
  • Introduces the theme of the anger of the Gods, questioning why Juno is so set against the surviving Trojans.
  • Her love of Carthage, which is doomed to be destroyed by Rome in the peleponesian wars.
  • The judgement of the Trojan Paris against the ‘slight to her beauty’.
  • Jealousy of Ganymede, whom Jupiter had taken to be his cup-bearer.
  • Juno sees the Trojans on their journey out of the ruined Troy and is infuriated, moaning that other God’s are permitted more influence than she is.
  • She travels to Aeolia and entreats Aeolus, King of the winds, to draw up a storm.
  • We first meet Aeneas in this storm, his fleet is being destroyed and he is terrified.
  • Augustus himself was afraid of thunderstorms.
  • Neptune becomes aware of the storm and calms it, berating both the winds and Aeolus for undermining his authority. He is describes as physically lifting some ships to safety.
  • Epic simile comparing Neptune to a man calming unrest in a great city. Possible contextual link, nod to Augustus calming the unrest in Rome after the civil wars.
  • Aeneas heads for Libya and takes stock of his remaining fleet.
  • Aeneas gives a speech, rallying the spirits of his men and supressing his own sadness before they share a feast.
  • The dialogue shifts to mount Olympus. Venus approached her father, Jupiter, and asks him why the exiled Trojans must suffer so much in building their new kingdom, whether or not that kingdom is still fated.
  • Now comes Jupiter’s prophecy, revealing that the establishment of Rome is the will of the fates. Aeneas led them out of Troy to Lavinium, his heir Ascanius will establish the city at Alba Longa until the birth of Romulus.
  • Describes Julius Caesar as a great future leader.
  • The image of Roma shutting the dread gates of war, trapping Strife within them would have appealed to a contextual audience seeking peace after a period of civil war.
  • Jupiter sends Mercury to encourage Dido and the Carthaginians to be hospitable to the Trojans.
  • Aeneas and Achates go out to explore the area, and Aeneas’ mother, Venus, appears to them disguised as a Spartan hunter girl. Aeneas recognises her as a goddess and asks her where they are.
  • Venus denies being a Goddess but reveals that they are in a Phoenician kingdom, belonging to the Libyans and to Dido who travelled for the city of Tyre to escape her tyrannous brother. She also reveals that they are building a new city.
  • Venus reveals that Aeneas’ comrades and his ships have been restored, interpreting from an omen of twelve swans flying in formation, before revealing herself as a goddess and departing.
  • Aeneas approaches the city, veiled in a cloak of mist placed by Venus.
  • From atop a great hill, Aeneas gazes over the growing…


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