Aeneid: Book 8 Summary: Aeneas in Rome

Aeneid: Book 8 Summary: Aeneas in Rome

River Tiber blessing to Aeneas, who goes to village of Pallanteum: later known as Palatine: 1/7 hills of Rome. King Evander describes how Hercules saved them from ravages of monster Cacus, and tells story of Mezentius, a brutal Etruscan despot who has been dethroned by his subjects and is being harboured by Turnus. Evander tells Aeneas of a prophecy which forbids the Etruscans to be led by an Italian, and advises him to go with cavalry led by Pallas to claim leadership of all armies opposed to Latins. Venus concerned for sons safety, persuades Vulcan to make new armour for new Aeneas. Includes a prophetic shield depicting the future wars of Rome.



Ekhphasis and fact that shield is being described


Achilles gets armour bc Hector stole it from Patroclus, whereas Aeneas HAS armour, just needs better armour perhaps. BIGGER thing is, is that this shield is an opp for Virgil to show WHAT Aeneas will win.

Achilles shield just general Greek life. Aeneas shield displays ROMAN VIRTUES through Roman history. Such as worshipping gods, bravery in adversity, triumph of Roman civ over Eastern

Literary Context

Oral Tradition

themes within the epics including: 


  • Sibyil calls Turnus second Achilles, but in the end he will be second Hector
  • Aeneas portrayed and compared to various heroes
  • Contrast between Aeneas and Pallas: in terms of maturity and fatherly affection, compared to boyish excitement
  • Aeneas becomes compared to Hercules: whilst visiting Evander: festivals to Hercules, then story of Cacus. This shows triumph of good and evil. Like Aeneas will achieve and Rome will achieve
  • Like Hercules attacking Cacus, Aeneas will blaze with fury: but unlike the monster who we have no sympathy for, the furor shown to Turnus almost leads to blaming Aeneas
  • But overall, Aeneas acts like Hercules, kills the man o fdisorder in order to found Rome
  • Like Hercules, Aeneas travels far, suffers much, has gods help and hinder him
  • Aeneas like a different kind of Achilles
    • Not the same guilty or tragedy
    • Shown by the differing shields
    • Achilles shield reps all life, war peace, marriage, death, festivals, lawcases to show how much he has to lose.
    • Aeneas shield restricted to only warfare
  • Hercules, Aeneas, Augustus all belong in a theme of Order, who resort to force to bring destruction of Disorder to an end
  • Aeneas worry and racing mind: in planning for war: weakness?? Pg 165 And how his heart is sick from the sadness of war
  • Evander praises Anchises’ heroism, by claiming that Anchises stood even taller than Priam, so thus Aeneas is worth more than Hector pg 169 and how father and son are all alike
  • All the cyclopes stop their work at forge at Vulcans command, to make Aeneas’ armour pg177
  • Homeric BOASTING of Aeneas, how he will punish Turnus etc

honour and reputation



the role of the gods

  • River Tiber God directs Aeneas to look for a portent…use of colour to describe this, twice. Big Sow with 30 triplets lying beneath Ilex trees. Pg 166
    • He reaffirms Aeneas’ fate and stiffens his resolve by affirming the portend also bound in B3
  • Venus persuades Vulcan to make new armor for her son…by saying how he provided armour for Thetis- Achilles B18 Iliad…but also Aurora, goddess of rising sun, and her son Memnon.
  • Venus gives sign from sky to reassure Aeneas, to show that armour was ready and that war would soon begin 180
  • Venus actually appears to son with armour, giving love and encouragement pg 182

the power of fate

  • Aeneas finds more allies by another prophecy…where Etruscans support him because there was a prophecy that a divine leader would lead them…pg 179
  • That Pallas will never see Evander, with his “last parting”…pathos created by EVANDERS wish that “if” he sees him again etc…pg 181


the portrayal of war

  • Book meant to be a let up before the onslaught of war. But, this tension of war is very much present in the book still…including myth of Cacus too.
  • War as stripping men from the fields and normal way of life pg165
  • Contrast of peaceful book in Evander’s palace, vs the war he speaks of
  • Aeneas uses line that is also used in B1, l100 how many shields, helmets, bodies will roll…to show a repeat of the trojan war and its sufferings
  • Frightened mothers as Trojans leave for battle 181 AND 182
  • Aeneas armour and weapons described as destructive and fatal pg 182

 moral values

  • Monster Cacus represents the monster of disorder, the furor impius and this anticipates Turnus’ behaviour
  • Justification of the use of anger in order to defeat the monster…like Aeneas and Turnus? Pg 171
  • Of despising wealth- Evander comments on his rude hut pg 175

role of Aeneas in Rome’s imperial destiny.

Historical Context

Virgil’s relationship to the regime of Augustus;

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


  • Aeneas’ shield shows future Roman warfare…it is not just a repeat of the parade of future roman heroes as it is confined to warfare
  • Centre of Aeneas’ shield: Battle of Actium- Augustus standing high on his battleship, like Aeneas did in Book 10, flames around his head to show divine favour
    • Against Augustus are Barbarian from East…Virgil highlights dog headed Anubis as their rep.
    • Augustus and his forces are that of ORDER, but Cleopatra and her masses are DISORDER
    • Agrippa: leading minister of Augustus (think Pantheon) too features here
  • Rom and Remus myth
  • Rape of Sabines, war, then reconciliation: showing the Roman virtue of forgiveness etc. E.g Numa, 2nd king of Rome was a Sabine, as per their treaties
  • Mettus torn in two by Tullus: 3rd King of Rome…to show Roman virtue of honesty, but also to show the repercussions of breaking Roman morality.
  • Porsenna tries to re-coup Tarquin the Proud back to Rome….he was the final king of Rome. In response, Horatius Cocles holds off their forces on a bridge, then eventually falls with the bridge as a symbol of bravery, and sacrifice for the greater glory of Rome. Cloelia taken hostage by Porsenna, but breaks her chains with great act of bravery to escape Porsenna
  • Geese, sacred to Juno, warn of Gaul invasion 390BC juxtaposed with images of ROman piety and religious ceremony: e.g Salii and Luperci: thus showing if piety is maintained then the gods protection will also follow
  • Catiline: in 63BC tried to take Rome in revolution: but failed and thus is in the underworld. Put alongside Cato, a roman statesman famous for his morality and just rule
  • Ref to Cleopatra, her snakes behind her…i.e her inevitable suicide after loss of ACTIUM 185
  • Apollo drawing his bow: Patron god of Augustus: seems to be chief instigator of all the eastern victories. ..Such success is rewarded with big temple on the Palatine.
  • Augustus triple triumph of Actium, Dalmatia and Alexandria by 29BC…IN RETURN builds 300 new shrines throughout city…PIETY like Aeneas
  • Augustus shown to be a great tamer of many races, Nomads, Africans, Carians, Gelonians etc EVEN holds the Euphrates in check…shows he has completely conquered the east.




  • The familiar densely packed roman streets along Tiber, made strange by turning it into a jungle…using Roman landmarks and the 7 hills
  • Virgil uses the Evander scene on the Palatine to evoke patriotism and wonder at how rude huts and the cow pasture transform into the Roman Forum and the huge city it becomes
  • Virgil sets the Italian war in perspective: Aeneas will crush impious Fury in Italy whilst Augustus will do the same in the Med.
  • Rome given mythological background by setting Cacus myth on the Aventine hill.
  • Reference to Ara Maxima: and the festival to Hercules, which still happened in Rome
  • Likewise, priests of Mars, Salii still exist as branch of religion in Rome pg 173
  • Virgil tries to suggest that Golden Age was not just associated with Greeks, but Romans too…claiming that Saturn had lain hidden in the borders of Italy…renamed Latium after that pg174
  • Roman Landmarks: such as Carmental Gate, a famous gate near Tiber
    • Ref to Lupercal, where Romulus and Remus would be suckled
    • Ref to Argiletum: potters quarter in Rome
    • Ref to Capitol and Capitoline hill where Triad of Jupiter, Juno and Minerva would be located…incl Jupiter Optimus Maximus…where procession victories ended.
  • Attacking Mezentius: tyrant who made torture by sticking a dead body to a live one till they died 179








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