and Summary of the Aeneid
Erin K. Moodie,
Vergilius Maro is born in Andes, a town in the Roman province of Gallia
Cisalpina (northern Italy), to a wealthy farming family.
approx. 60-Vergil starts
his studies at Cremona.
approx. 58 or 57-Vergil
moves to Milan to study there.
approx. 53-Vergil moves to
Rome to continue his studies in rhetoric, philosophy, and law.
crosses the Rubicon, invading Italy.
He seizes control of Rome.
Soon after, Vergil moves to Naples and studies with Greek (perhaps
Epicurean) scholars there.
work on the Eclogues (ah, the joys of cowherding!).
killed on March 15 (Beware the Ides of March!!), civil war breaks out as various factions try to
fill the power void. Octavian
eventually emerges as the big cheese.
42-Octavian begins seizing farmland throughout Italy so he can reward the
men who had fought on his side in the civil war. Vergil reportedly loses his family's farm, but regains it
with the help of some powerful friends.
the Eclogues and publishes them.
approx. 36-Vergil begins
work on the Georgics at the behest of Maecenas, a powerful and
wealthy man who also happens to be the literary patron to many of Rome's most
the Georgics (ah, the joys of farming!), Vergil reads them aloud
to Octavian, who also happens to be one of Maecenas' closest friends.
work on the Aeneid at Octavian's behest. As he works on it for the next 11
years, he reads portions to Octavian (soon to be known as 'Augustus' from 27 BC
19 BC-Vergil dies at
Brundisium on September 21 as he makes his way back from Greece. Despite Vergil's deathbed request that
his complete, yet unpolished Aeneid be burned, Augustus has
Vergil's friends Varius and Tucca emend the text and publish it.
of students learn from and about Vergil's Aeneid, as it
fundamentally changes how the Romans (and therefore their cultural successors)
think about poetry.
Book 1: Begins in
medias res ('in the middle of things')-while sailing to Italy,
Aeneas is blown off course by a storm caused by Juno. He winds up on the North African coast, believing all of the
Trojan ships other than his own have been lost. With the aid of his mother Venus, Aeneas arrives in Carthage
and meets Queen Dido, who asks to hear about the fall of Troy.
Book 2: Aeneas'
account, part 1-our Trojan hero describes how, as Troy was falling, he fled
from the city with his father Anchises, son Ascanius, and family gods (penates)
and escaped with the gods' help.
Sadly, his wife Creusa got lost on the way out of the city, and was
Book 3: Aeneas'
account, part 2- our Trojan hero describes how, after leaving the area around
Troy, the Trojans visited a bunch of places before they eventually realized
they would have to go to a new land in the west. Also, Aeneas' dad Anchises died.
Book 4: Back to real
time. Dido (with help from Venus)
has fallen in love with Aeneas, who must leave Carthage because of his
destiny. Dido is NOT HAPPY about
this, kills herself, and curses Aeneas, prophesying eternal hatred between her
descendants and his.
Book 5: The Trojans
stop in Sicily to perform funeral games in Anchises' honor.
Book 6: Aeneas must
consult with the Sibyl at Cumae and travel to the underworld, where he meets
dead friends and comrades Deiphobus, Dido, Palinurus, and Anchises. His father shows him Rome's distant
future and heroes.
Book 7: Encouraged
by his father's advice, Aeneas stops at the Tiber River, recognizes the land
promised to him, and makes a pact with a king conveniently named Latinus. Juno sends the fury Allecto to wreck
the pact by maddening queen Amata and the Rutulian prince Turnus.
Book 8: Given divine
advice, Aeneas leaves his son behind in a fortified camp with most of the
Trojans and heads up the Tiber to king Evander (whose name conveniently means
'good man'). From Evander he
receives allied troops (Evander's Arcadians and any Etruscans who are angry
with their cruel king Mezentius) and becomes a mentor to the young Arcadian
prince Pallas. From his mother
Aeneas receives Vulcan-made armor and a shield showing all of Roman history.
Book 9: The Trojan
camp is faring poorly in Aeneas' absence-Turnus and his allies are winning. Two brave Trojans, Nisus and Euryalus,
try to get word to Aeneas but are caught by the enemy because of their greed
and are killed.
Book 10: Aeneas and
his allies return to the Trojan camp and turn the tide. Turnus kills Pallas in combat and takes
his swordbelt. In turn Aeneas
kills Mezentius, Turnus' most powerful ally.
Book 11: Having won
the battle, Aeneas mourns his fallen mentee, the Arcadian prince Pallas. Aeneas tries to convince his opponents
to make peace with him, but they refuse.
Turnus attacks, and in the ensuing battle the Italian warrior princess
Camilla falls and is avenged by Artemis.
Book 12: Turnus is
forced to accept a duel with Aeneas to determine the outcome of the entire
war. Turnus' sister Juturna (a
nymph) and Juno break the truce and start battle, however. Jupiter affirms that the Trojan side
will be victorious, and Juno is forced to reconcile with her husband, although
he concedes that no part of the Trojan name will survive with this new
people. Aeneas finally defeats Turnus
in single combat, and hesitates, wondering whether he should spare Turnus'
life. Then Aeneas sees that Turnus
is wearing Pallas' swordbelt, at which point he kills Turnus angrily, and
Turnus' spirit groans as it flees to the underworld.