Aeneid: Book 2 Summary for OCR Classical Civ spec

Aeneid: Book 2 Summary: Fall of Troy

Flashback: Aeneas tells banqueters story of fall of Troy. Greeks erect wooden horse, persuade Trojans to drag it into city. During night Greek soldiers leave horse and open gates to comrades. Trojans put up fierce, yet futile resistance, Aeneas escapes from the city with father and son.

3 sections:

L 1-249 Sinon, Laocoon, then story of wooden horse/Troy

L 250- 558: Massacre in Troy, death of Priam

L559- 804: Personal fortune of Aeneas

Two major themes are: DESTRUCTION and SURVIVAL

Literary Context

Oral Tradition


Cassandra: “her burning eyes, her eyes.” Alexandrian of eyes. Pathos as this method is rarely used in the Aeneid apart from in emotionally tense moments

themes within the epics including: 


  • Sneaky treachery of Sinon: deceives and causes Priam to free him
  • Aeneas mindlessly puts on his armour and is frenzied and whipped into an anger: to throw himself into battle pg 34 example of Ira and Furor…as opposed to Ratio (rationality, clear thinking, mindfulness)
    • Very different to his more moral, pious stance as a hero in Book 1. More like a Homeric Hero
  • Again Aeneas as Homeric Hero pg 35: wants to die with a glorious charge: abandoning all safety pg 35
  • Compared to a Wolf: Aeneas: foraging blindly : showing desperation and hunger. C.f Turnus later on. Aeneas never compared to Wolf again, showing maturity?
  • Aeneas proves he is not a coward: would have fought to the death if that wasn’t his destiny pg 37
  • Aeneas overcome by his furor: about to kill Helen: this intercepts his duty to his family, as shown by reprimanding speech of his mum, Venus pg 42
  • Again fault and flaws in Aeneas heroism: says that death is the only thing he can hope for pg 43
  • Aeneas taking on his Homeric heroism once again pg 44

honour and reputation

  • Much more Homeric Aeneas perceived in this Book: more concerned about glory, rep and fighting
  • No honour in killing Helen: but Aeneas wants to pg 41


  • Sinon manipulates, bemoaning the fact he will never see his home, children or father again pg 29
  • Serpents attack Laocoon: killing his children. He tries to save them, but can’t and dies with them. 31
  • Aeneas suddenly remembers about Creusa, his wife and father and goes back to his house pg 41
  • Appeal of Creusa, throws herself in front of Aeneas and begs him to stay and to protect pg 44 c.f to Andromache and Hector…Hector chooses to defend his kleos and his city over his family. Aeneas wises up and leaves to protect family
  • Turns great war hero Aeneas into nervous wreck, whilst trying to lead family out of city alive pg. 45
  • Heartbreaking moment where Aeneas cannot embrace Creusa, tries three times. C.f Homeric odyssey. Pg. 47


See notes on role of gods: Venus

See notes on family: Creusa

See notes on fate: Creusa

the role of the gods

  • Athene in helping Greeks to build Trojan horse pg 25
  • Serpents retreat to Athene (in the citadel) Temple: shelter under her feet. Suggests that she at least condones this action pg 31
  • In making Cassandra unbelievable…so fate of Troy cannot be revealed until its too late pg 32
  • Fates preserve Sinon, who is able to undo the Gates of Troy whilst all of Troy sleeps pg 32
  • Mars getting in on the action on side of Greeks pg 37
  • Aeneas overcome by his furor: about to kill Helen: this intercepts his duty to his family, as shown by reprimanding speech of his mum, Venus pg 42
  • Venus has been protecting Aeneas’ family whilst he was on the rampage 42
  • Venus reveals all the gods participating in fall of Troy to Aeneas: incl Neptune, Juno, Pallas and even Jupiter. Pg 42 this shows that it is Troy’s destiny to fall…which on pg 44 shows that they are tearing down one great city/empire to build another; ROME
  • Jupiter’s omen of Ascanius’ flaming hair, then confirmed by thunder then star fall over Mt Ida pg 44/5
  • Aeneas’ wits are robbed by a hostile power pg 46

the power of fate

  • Greeks cannot take Troy because of the Fates delaying pg 25
  • In the failure to recognize the threat of the horse: Thymoetes isn’t cognizant of threat: but Capys is pg 26
  • Laocoon clearly aware of threat: throws spear into horse, but Fates ensure that no-one inside got hit pg 26
  • Description of the Trojan horse as the “engine of fate” pg 32
  • Hector’s prophecy: ignores Aeneas, but reveals to him that Troy will fall, so he needs to escape Troy, bringing and preserving the Penates and to then found a new city pg 33
  • Panthus, priest of Apollo, again states the downfall of Troy and how it is a fate that cannot be escaped pg 34
  • Coroebus ignores his wifes prophecy: and so comes to his death pg 35
  • Creusa not destined to go with Aeneas, torn away from him pg 46, reveals her fate as a ghost pg 47
  • Creusa prophecy reveals two more details to reader: 1: A royal bridge is waiting for him (Lavinia) and the place of the land he must found is in Hesperia. Pg 47

the portrayal of war

  • Cunning trickery of the Trojan horse, but also of Ulixes: who mixes fact with fiction to deceieve
    • Sinon says how Palamedes was killed on false information
    • Sinon manipulates by even referring to and…criticizing ‘Ulixes’, sharing hatred of him with Trojans.
  • It was not years of siege that falls Troy, but it was Sinon’s deceit pg 31
  • Comradeship in war: pg 35, Aeneas comes to fight alongside his comrades such as Rhipeus, Hypanis, Dymas etc
  • The reversal of great empires: an empire ruling city crushed pg 35
  • Destruction of war: of death
  • Sneaky decision of Coroebus: to nick Greek armour to get amongst them pg 36
  • Impact of war: frightened women, the butchering of the guards pg 39
  • Priam murdered at Altar pg 39
  • Horrifying descriptions of the destruction, looting, burning and the children and mothers all lined up (slaves) pg 46

 moral values

  • Sinon manipulates missing Palladium: saying that Athene is punishing the Greeks for stealing it pg 30
  • Sinon uses argument of morality and religion: to suggest that if the Greeks don’t accept the Trojan horse, they will get cursed by dishonouring the gods. Pg 30
  • Greeks completely misread Athene’s intervention against Laocoon: perceiving that he has been punished for defacing the religious/moral trojan horse
  • Rhipeus as a great upholder of justice, yet he was not preserved by the gods…pg 37
  • Panthus’ great devotion to Apollo receives no protection. Pg 37
    • Why be pious?
  • Reflected in Priam’s appeal to Pyrrhus, to Achilles and his apparent respect of Hector etc pg 40…Moral values of proper respect, burial, rights as a suppliant
  • Pyrrhus with no honour, he upholds his own degeneracy: tells Priam to tell Peleus all of his complaints at his lack of honour/respect. Pg 40
    • Pyrrhus drags Priam to altar to kill him
  • Should a man control his emotions, whilst remaining pious pg 4
  • Piety of Aeneas: will not take up sacraments/household gods with bloody hands. Like Hector in the Iliad pg 45

role of Aeneas in Rome’s imperial destiny.

  • Creusa prophecy reveals two more details to reader: 1: A royal bridge is waiting for him (Lavinia) and the place of the land he must found is in Hesperia. Pg 47
  • See power of fate: Aeneas


Historical Context

Virgil’s relationship to the regime of Augustus;

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







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