YMMV / The Aeneid

  • Alternative Character Interpretation: An inter-book example. Aeolus is seen in both The Odyssey and The Aeneid. In The Odyssey, he is seen as a splendid guy with a fertile kingdom — in the Aeneid he is seen as a jerk in a hollow barren cave, who screws over Aeneas for an arranged marriage with one of Juno's nymphs.
    • The same goes for Odysseus, who is presented in the Aeneid as more of a slimy trickster than a hero. In The Odyssey, Odysseus is a hero precisely because he is a slimy trickster but that attitude did not fly to a Roman audience.
    • The most difficult one is Helen. In one scene, she's suffering a total breakdown. In another, she's gleefully killing Trojans. It's possible to reconcile the two, but there's such a disparity that it may be one of the incomplete parts (see below).
    • The difference makes sense as by Virgil's time, Greeks are Acceptable Targets (for example the infamous line "timeo Danaos et dona ferentis" - I fear Greeks even bearing gifts). Demonizing the famous Greek leaders also makes the Trojans look better. Though interestingly enough, Diomedes, the guy who kicked Aeneas as in the Iliad is portrayed in a positive light.
    • Mezentius's refusal to worship the gods is supposed to make him look like a monster. Instead it makes him look like a badass.
    • As a result of Author Existence Failure, the finale where Aeneas kills Turnus and the story abruptly stops is regarded by some as a He Who Fights Monsters moment. Where Aeneas despite being noble and driven by Gods finally proves himself to be as brutish as common soldiers and his enemies.
  • Author's Saving Throw: Virgil justifies the Trojans falling for the Trojan Horse so that they wouldn't go into the story looking like moronic losers, complete with the Trojan who vociferously argues against it, to the point of attacking the horse but whom the gods then strike down (along with his two children).note  Virgil also stresses the fact that they kept Troy safe for over a decade and only lost by underhanded trickery.
  • Draco in Leather Pants: Later Italian authors and readers tend to admit that they find the antagonists or the bad guys more interesting — Camilla of the Vosci, Mezentius, Dido of Carthage and Turnus.
  • Flat Character: Critics note that Aeneas' characterization kind of dies after the visit to the underworld, and that the final part dealing with the arrival of the Trojans to Italy is more a series of vignettes about other characters who are more colourful than Aeneas. Some critics even feel that this is one reason why Virgil never finished the Aeneid and why he, according to myth, said that it should be burnt. He struggled to make Aeneas interesting and so strung together vignettes to fill space for his epic.
  • Nintendo Hard: Translating it, especially for students that have just come off prose. Vergil's poetic endings, word order (or lack thereof), and figurative language can be quite annoying. Author Existence Failure also leads to some incomplete lines, making translation even more difficult.
  • Older Than They Think:
    • The phrase "The Arms and The Man" (the title of a Shaw play) is from the first sentence of the epic and the memorable line translated as something like "going to hell is easy; it's getting back which is the hard part" might be considered the origin of the phrase To Hell and Back.
    • There's also Vergil's description of Dido re-discovering love as re-kindling "an old flame." (Though the 'flame' is her sexual feelings more generally rather than a passion for a specific former lover, as it is usually used in English.)
    • "We each have our own demons to face" is from the sixth book, though it's far more literal than most modern uses: it's literally about being punished for one's sins in the underworld.
  • The Woobie:
    • Aeneas. When he's introduced, he's bawling his eyes out over the threat of immediate death by drowning. He gets more pathetic from there, possibly changing once he gets to Italy.
    • Dido is also portrayed quite sympathetically. Turnus skirts this during the parts when Virgil describes how he is doomed to die, and when one remembers that he didn't initially want the war at all and only got involved because of Juno and Allecto's manipulations.