The Aeneid is an epic poem written by the poet Publius Vergilius Maro - more commonly known as Virgil. It's considered one of the great forerunners of literature and many later works are deliberately based off the style Virgil used. Of course, Virgil himself was deliberately writing in the style of Homer, his literary hero, also basing his portrayal of certain characters off of stars of The Iliad or The Odyssey.The Aeneid is a Continuation fic set After the End of the Trojan War, following the story of the Trojan hero Aeneas. Prophesied to found a city whose empire will cover the whole world and rule forever, he travels all over the known world (i.e. the Mediterranean) trying to reach the fated place. After suffering many tragedies and getting kicked out of most places, he realises that the gods want him to go to Italy. When he gets there, however, he still doesn't have it easy: he has to pretty much conquer the whole area before he can settle down.The city he eventually founds is the one from which Roman founders Romulus and Remus supposedly come. The Aeneid was intended as a propaganda piece for the emperor-in-all-but-name Augustus, who had recently become the supreme power in Rome, then ravaged by civil war, by defeating Mark Anthony and Cleopatra. Aeneas, who is pious*
Aeneas is often called pius Aeneas. Pius is often translated as pious, but it refers to devotion to not only the gods, but also one's family and country. In the case of Aeneas, his country is the Rome which will eventually exist.
, dutiful and brave, was held as the Roman ideal and is obliquely compared with Augustus at several points in the poem.Standard material for Latin students; the U.S. AP Latin exam assumes its takers have read at least a requisite 1800 lines, as the entire test is about the epic. (At least, it did, but as of the 2013 exam, the number of lines of the Aeneid has been lessened, and the AP Latin exam now also tests on Caesar'sDe Bello Gallico. Students still need to know the story in its entirety, though. They're just not held responsible for as much of the Latin.)The poem may well have made some tropes, and used others cheerfully. This guarantees that all those tropes are at least Older Than Feudalism.
Adaptational Villainy: In The Odyssey, Aeolus is in charge of a thriving kingdom and tries to help Odysseus. Here, he is bribed by Juno into loosing the winds on Aeneas's ships. Helen is also treated less sympathetically than she is in The Iliad, betraying Deiphobus to the Greeks.
Aerith and Bob: Amongst the exotic sounding Greek and Latin names, it may come as a surprise for some to also find names still used today like 'Anna' and 'Camilla'.
Ironically, the Semitic name 'Anna' would have been one of the more exotic names in the poem to a Roman reader.
Anachronism Stew: In The Iliad and The Odyssey, Homer described battles fought with bronze-tipped spears. In The Aeneid, Virgil describes those same battles as having been fought with steel-tipped spears. Steel-making was unknown in Homer's time.
It should also be noted that, at the time Aeneas lands there, nobody should be living at Carthage for another four centuries.
There are multiple references to Aeneas taking the "penates" - statues of the gods to be kept in households - with him when he leaves Troy. Romans, like Virgil, had these, but Greeks actually did not.
Angel Unaware: Aeneas meets his mother Venus when he lands near Carthage, but she is disguised as a huntress. She shows him the way to Carthage. (Aeneas does realize she's a divine being, he just can't tell which one.)
Author Existence Failure: Virgil died in Augustus' arms with the poem not yet completed to his satisfaction. He ordered Augustus to burn it. Luckily, Augustus ignored his wishes and published it instead. The poem still contains half-lines that Virgil included as placeholders while he figured out what the full line should say.
Badass: It's a continuation of The Iliad, so half the cast counts. Turnus, Camilla, Aeneas in the later chapters, and without a doubt, Mezentius, the Etruscan tyrant who comes to Turnus's aid. He's so badass he can ignore the gods, and still give Aeneas one of the best fights in the book.
Even in the early books, Aeneas shows hints of his badass nature. When he goes hunting for dinner, he manages to take down seven deer with a bow and arrow.
Doesn't matter whether Lavinia really wants to marry Turnus (implied at one point) or how long they've been promised, it's decided the minute he arrives that she's gonna marry Aeneas, who never shows any interest in her. Which means Turnus is doomed to die, just for being her former fiancé. And that's that.
Brick Joke: Aeneas is mentioned in The Iliad, and it is stated that he shall be the future leader for all Trojans yet to come. Homer never mentioned this again, and the lost epics of the Trojan Cycle have him either fleeing Troy before the sack or being captured and spared by the Greeks. 800 years later, Virgil resolves the story.
Department of Redundancy Department: The metrical restrictions of Latin epic, as well as a hefty bit of Vergil's personal style, make for awkward (if not downright humorous) translations. Aeneas' entrance into the "cavernous cavern" is just one of dozens of examples. Vergil also seems fond of his characters "pressing footsteps" rather than just walking.
Disposable Woman: Creusa, Aeneas' first wife who dies during the razing of Troy.
Disproportionate Retribution: Juno is still pissed about not being chosen as the fairest by the long-dead Paris. Her hatred for the Trojans is the direct cause for the war that fills the second half of the epic.
Seems even more fitting seeing as 1) some of her reasons are even more stupid, like the fact that Ganymede was chosen as "cup-bearer" to the gods instead of someone else she wanted and he happened to be a Trojan and 2) in the end, she ends up going along with the creation of Italy and Rome anyway, making all of her resistance pointless.
Juno doesn't hate Ganymede just because he's Trojan (and therefore ultimately responsible for the destruction of her beloved city Carthage), but because he was her rival for Jupiter's affections.
Genre Savvy: Some critics read that Aeneas knows he's in a version of The Odyssey and Iliad, but he misunderstands exactly what's happening to him. For example, when Odysseus lands on Phaeacia, he meets Princess Nausicaa who welcomes him and considers marrying him. So when Aeneas lands in Africa and sees a girl there on the shore, he assumes she's his version of Nausicaa and starts acting like Odysseus did to her (he compares her to Diana, a direct reference to the corresponding passage in The Odyssey). Turns out she's not supposed to be Nausicaa, she's his mom Venus; and when he meets the real Nausicaa stand-in (Dido) he doesn't recognise that fact at all.
Getting Crap Past the Radar: Yes, it's there. A good example is a line in Book Four, when Dido tells her sister about her love for Aeneas. In English, it's often translated as "perhaps to this one sin I could succumb." In Latin, the order of words in a sentence doesn't matter, so the word for "sin" doesn't come up until the end of the line. Since the word for "succumb" literally means "to lie under," Romans might have thought that Virgil was referring to something else...
Priam: How dare you make me witness my own son's death! You're no son of Achilles - he had respect for those begging for mercy!
Neoptolemus: You'll get to see my father yourself! Be sure to tell him how wicked his son is. Now die.
God Save Us from the Queen: While her husband is a good if not very proactive king, Queen Amata of Latium sides with Turnus against Aeneas. Then there's Juno, who also causes some trouble for Aeneas.
Dido goes a bit love-crazy after Aeneas arrives, and it gets worse after he dumps her. By that point virtually all her subjects are against her.
Gray and Gray Morality: Aeneas is a courageous, pious, and dutiful leader, but he also commits morally questionable acts such as abandoning Dido without warning and slaying an unarmed Turnus at the end of the poem. The Trojans' enemies are likewise portrayed sympathetically despite being antagonists.
Half-Human Hybrid: Aeneas is the son of Venus, and Turnus, his rival, is the son of a nymph.
In Medias Res / How We Got Here: Books II and III are an extended flashback to the events of the Trojan War and the long period of wandering that followed it, leading up to the Trojans arrival in Carthage at the beginning of Book I.
Ironic Echo: Aeneas refers to himself as "pius (roughly "righteous") Aeneas" during his remorse following the death of Lausus.
It's Personal: Aeneas would have been perfectly content to show his rival, Turnus, mercy and let him live... if he hadn't killed his friend a few books ago. Mezentius and Aeneas' conflict also turns personal after the death of the former's son.
Jerkass Gods: Pretty much all of them, but Juno is in her own category.
Last of His Kind: Aeneas and the other Trojans are part of a handful of survivors of their city-state after it was exterminated by the Greeks. The Aeneid definitely contributed to the idea of the surviving Trojans being the founders of other countries — for example, several Medieval works had them as the founders of Britain.
Also, Aeneas to Turnus: "This wound will come from Pallas: Pallas makes this offering, and from your criminal blood exacts his due!". All the more famouse because it sparks a What the Hell, Hero? moment, and dishes out an abrupt, rather Downer Ending.
Pretty Boy: Young men such as Ascanius, Pallas and Lausus often have their almost feminine beauty described at length (since it was highly valued in Rome). Turnus' good looks are apparently enough to inspire other men to fight and die for him.
Prophecy Twist: The Harpy Celaeno's prophecy that they will get so hungry that they'll eat their tables...which they do when they eat a meal served on big pieces of flatbread.
Young Ascanius making direct reference to the pun only makes it better.
Some have argued that this was deliberate; since Aeneas was supposed to be a stand-in for Augustus, many believe that Virgil worked in a Take That or two out of resentment for having his farm confiscated to give to soldiers.
"Could I not have torn apart his snatched-away body, and scattered it on the waves? Could I not have murdered his companions and Ascanius himself, and served them on the father's table to be feasted upon?"
Additionally, Juno's whole reason for being miffed at the Trojans (and therefore Aeneas) is that Paris didn't pick her.
Wouldn't Hit a Girl: Some historians believe that the reason Camilla isn't killed by Aeneas was so that Virgil could avoid having his hero kill a woman. Even a Bad AssAction Girl kind of woman.
Yandere: Dido, Hera, Amata (once Allecto has her way with her).
You Can't Go Home Again: Troy has been razed by Greek soldiers; the premise of the poem is Aeneas trying to found a new one.
Well, for a while Aeneas certainly does try to make a new Troy and actually meets someone else who successfully does so however the point of the story is really more him realizing that it is not his place to reproduce Troy but instead to lay the groundwork for Rome.
You Have Waited Long Enough: Dido's sister Anna says this when Dido believes that having an affair with Aeneas would be betraying her deceased husband.