THE AENEID by Virgil - without pictures

THE AENEID by Virgil
-Brief introduction to the Aeneid
The Aeneid
• Brief introduction to the text:
▫ Virgil began constructing the Aeneid around 30
B.C. It is about the Roman hero Aeneas and the
founding of Rome.
▫ The text was composed to celebrate ideas that the
Romans valued, these being truth, justice and the
Roman way of life. The text especially promotes
the Roman way of life under Augustus, which are
known as the Golden years.
Two books you may like to read (from the
Nat. library):
▫ Williams, R.D. (1973) Aeneas and the Roman
Hero. Macmillan.
 Looks at main themes specific to Yr13.
▫ Anderson, W.S. (1969) The Art of the Aeneid.
 A good introduction into the themes of the Aeneid.
The Aeneid
• Why is it important and is it relevant today?
▫ Virgil creates a Roman heritage. From the rubble
of Troy Aeneas a survivor of Troy leads his
followers to the west, Italy to create another city.
▫ An epic poem in this case is a secondary epic when
the author deliberately imitates the traditional
form of an epic. In this instance Virgil’s Aeneid
copies the form of Homer’s Odyssey or Iliad. USE
With the person next to you answer the following:
• What is the Aeneid about?
• How does it provide us with a history of the
Roman Empire?
The man behind the Aeneid
Born: 70 B.C.
Died: 19 B.C.
Full name Publius Vergilius Maro.
The Eclogues (meaning selections)
• Began around 42 B.C. Published 37 B.C.
• Pastoral style of poetry.
• Ten books.
The Georgics
• Finished in 29 B.C.
• The four books discuss grain production,
growing of vineyards, raising animals and
Relationship with Augustus
• When Augustus gained full control of the Empire
(around 31 B.C.) he gave Virgil two country
estates and an annual allowance.
• It was suggested to Virgil that he create an epic
in Augustus’ honour.
• BUT Virgil’s main aim was not to write
propaganda for his patron.
(Caius Julius Caesar Octavianus)
• Born: Sept. 23rd 63 B.C.
• Died: August 19th, 14 B.C.
• Julius Caesar, Augustus’ uncle, adopted him. Therefore through the
Julian line, Augustus considered himself a descendant of Aeneas.
• In Apollonia, Epirus, 44 B.C. Augustus learned of Julius’
assassination and the will which named him heir.
• Gained power through an alliance known as the triumvirate
(consisting of Octavian, Marc Antony and Lepidus).
• Octavian defeats Marc Antony at the battle of Actium on September
2nd 30 B.C. Octavian becomes Augustus Caesar.
• He kept up the pretence of a Roman Republic but in fact he was the
first Roman Emperor – Imperator.
• Herald in the Golden Age – end of Civil Wars.
Was the Aeneid Augustan propaganda?
• Yes! Or NO?
• Yes: the Aeneid was written in response to
Augustus’ deliberate cultural programme. It
demonstrated Roman and Augustus dominance
and cherished Roman ideals (peace and
• The Aeneid deals with the issue of a national
identity. Aeneas after the destruction of Troy must
set out and create a new city in the west. Him and
his companions must fight the existing Italians
(Turnus). In the final book Aeneas defeats Turnus
thus strengthening the idea that Romans are
• The Aeneid portrays the idea that the world needs
the Romans to set everything right. E.g. the Shield
that Vulcan creates for Aeneas depicts the battle of
Actium – Augustus and the unified Italians against
Marc Antony and the East.
Was the Aeneid Augustan propaganda?
• No: the poem highlights the suffering, loss and
nostalgia. Virgil may have believed in Rome but
he was aware of the costs it took to create it.
• Jupiter’s prophecy to Venus in Book 1 ends with
a description of extreme violence.
• Read p5-9 (The tale of Troy: through Greek eyes
– Honouring the greatness of Rome)
• Jot down points about how the Greeks and
Romans viewed Troy and any differences they
may have.

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