Aeneid: Book 1 Summary: Storm and Banquet: For OCR Classical Civ spec

Prepared in haste. Excuse the typos.

Aeneid: Book 1 Summary: Storm and Banquet

Juno fends storm wrecking Trojan ships, near Carthage. Trojans hospitably received by Dido. Venus, Aeneas’ mother anxious for safety of son, makes Dido fall in love with him.

Literary Context

Oral Tradition

themes within the epics including: 


  • Aeneas instantly introduced as a man famous for his piety
  • Chill goes through Aeneas, limbs grow weak. Here we see Human frailty pg 5
  • Aeneas hunts for his men, killing 3 stags pg 8
  • Aeneas motivates his men, quoting their survival from Scylla and Cyclopes. Pg 8 good leader
  • Yet he was sick with all his cares. Pg 9 human fraility in terms of mental resilience?
  • Again Aeneas has doubts: sees that Carthage’s walls are already rising: yet he has not even found the resting place of his peoples yet. Pg 15
  • Aeneas recalls Fall of Troy with empty images and groaning
    • Ekphrasis of 4 pairs. Greeks fleeing vs Trojans fleeing. Rhesus murder and Troilus murder. Women spllicating Athene at Troy, Priam supplicating the Greeks. Allies of Troy: incl Menon and the Amazons.
  • Ilioneus praises Aeneas as our king, says how he has no equal for piety and justice, and no equal in field of battle pg 18

honour and reputation

  • Aeneas promises Dido that her honour, name and praise will be known to every land to which he is called…showing respect and honour…


  • Father Aeneas to his troops
  • Aeneas anxious to protect Ascanius despite the promise of safety from Dido/Venus pg 21 PIETAS TO HIS FAMILY
  • Venus persuades Cupid to change features to look like Ascanius to inflame heart of the queen: wants to protect son from Juno’s hatred
  • Aeneas treats Cupid like a son…impossible to tell difference between god and Ascanius? Pg 23


  • Dido, like Aeneas is driven by necessity from her home
    • Has experienced suffering too, Pygmalion kills her love, Sychaeus whilst he prays at altar pg 13
  • Led the entire untaking of moving her peoples and the ancient treasure to found Carthage
  • Venus as a harsh mother, disguises herself to her son, who then realises and bemoans her for this. She just walks away. Pg 14
  • Dido compared to Diana in looks, but also in power and organisation of her people pg 17
  • Dido accepts Trojan suppliants, with gracious xenia, treating them as equals
  • Dido as sympathetic and empathetic “I too have known ill fortunes”. She says she suffers yet she is learning to help those who suffer pg 21
  • Servitude to men: laying out food and honouring Penates (religious role) for Trojans pg 23
  • Dido as doomed to be a victim of a plague yet to come. Virgil points towards future tragedy looming pg 23
  • Pious Dido pours libation to gods…yet Gods will ensure her downfall pg 24

the role of the gods

  • Aeolus as the wind keeper
  • Juno tells Aeolus to let the winds escape: to try and foil Aeneas
  • Jupiter directly intervenes to send winds back to Aeolus
  • Zeus reassures Venus that Aeneas’ fate remains unchanged pg 10
  • Venus puts mist around Aeneas so he can view Carthage safely pg 14
  • Of Juno to guide Phoenicians to dig up head of stallion to found Carthage there pg 15
  • Venus disperses cloud of mist: she chooses when Aeneas and co are revealed pg 19
  • Venus makes Aeneas glow and his hair look beautiful pg 20
  • Venus persuades Cupid to change features to look like Ascanius to inflame heart of the queen: wants to protect son
  • Cupid doesn’t take role seriously “strutted about copying Iulus’ walk and laughing”.

the power of fate

  • Juno wants to give Carthage sovereignty over the whole earth but the Fates would not allow this (because this is Rome’s job instead!)
  • Of those fated to die beneath walls of Troy: Aeneas mourns lost comrades pg 5
  • Aeneas announces to his men that Latium is the place fated for their rest pg 8
  • Juno aware that blood of Troy would produce a man whose race would sack and destroy Carthage: i.e Aeneas…pg 1
  • Rome will “hold power over every land and sea” pg 9
  • Troy and Rome’s destiny inexplicably linked pg 9
  • Rome will have no limit of time or place- Jupiter pg 11
  • Venus reassures Aeneas that his fate will be realised: gives omen of eagle of jupiters swooping down on 12 swans…but have formed a column and are now arriving home pg 14
  • “may the gods bring you the reward you deserve” Aeneas to Dido: ironic, tragically…her punishment is hardly reward
  • Aeneas promises Dido that her honour, name and praise will be known to every land to which he is called…showing respect and honour…he will be CALLED to Rome, away from her
  • Venus still feels need to protect fate of Rome by helping Aeneas: getting Dido to fall in love with him for safety pg 22

the portrayal of war

 moral values

  • Is being pious, having pietas worth it? Venus bemoans Aeneas’ suffering despite his great pietas
  • Again, Aeneas points to his devotion in speech to Dido, yet goes on to list his sufferings pg 13

AUGUSTUS introduces Leges Iuliae, limits to excessive spending, encourages family life, penalises sexual laxity in 18BC

  • “Join you in lawful wedlock”. Juno promises Aeolus herself and Deiopea in marriage: reflecting the morality of Roman times:


Allusions to Augustus

  • Aeolus as King who knows when to check the winds or to let them have free reign. Virgil pointing to the judgement of Augustus?
  • The similie starting “as when disorder arises”. Here is a high standing figure with the power to restore order, to end furor and strife and to bring peace and stability to the state. Augustus!!
  • Reference to how Aeneas will rule 3 years, Ascanius 30: rule of the Iulus…i.e Julian family. Augustus was adopted into Julius’ family and here Virgil is showing a clear line of heritage: adding legitimacy to his rule
  • Race that wear a Toga…Jupiter’s words here speak of the Pax Romana, Roman Peace that Augustus manages to bring about pg 11
  • There will be born a Trojan Caesar: i.e Augustus pg 11
  • “Spoils of the east” ref to Augustus recent conquests on the east pg 11
  • Augustus will shackle war pg 11 (godless strife as furor personified)
  • “He too will be called upon in prayer” Jupiter refers to fact that Augustus will be deified too, like Julius Caesar

Historical Context

Virgil’s relationship to the regime of Augustus;

the political and historical background in which the Aeneid/Iliad  was written.

  • 3 Punic Wars: what is being referred to by the overthrowal of Carthage
  • 2BC: Rome invades and takes over Greece: pg 11: where Jupiter talks about enslaving the house of Assaracus and Mycenae etc
  • “doubled tongued people of Tyre” hatred for Carthage, the history of mistrust and conflict set up here pg 22
  • Hospitality between Rome and Carthage pg 24: irony that the descendants will remember each other…but for hostility rather than allegiance





Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s