Study Guide for Vergil's Aeneid
Discussion Questions for Vergil's Aeneid
Compare the opening lines of the Aeneid to the opening lines of
the Iliad and/or the Odyssey. Can you identify any similarities or differences?
What kind of hero is Aeneas? How do his actions compare to those
of Gilgamesh, Achilles, and Hector? In what ways is his situation similar to or different from that of the other heroes?
In what ways is the Aeneid a retelling of Homer's epic poems?
In what ways is it not?
What does Carthage look like? What does Aeneas see when he enters the
city? How does he respond to what he sees?
How is Aeneas received by Dido?
How does Aeneas describe the Trojan War? How has he been affected
What do Aeneas's actions during the sack of Troy suggest about his character?
How does Aeneas remove his father from Troy as it burns? Is there a
symbolic significance to this?
What is Dido's role in the Aeneid? How does she compare with
the female characters we encountered in Homer and Aeschylus?
Why is Dido reluctant to reveal her love to Aeneas? Is there more than
love at stake here, for both Dido and Aeneas?
Is Aeneas in love with Dido? How do you know?
How would you characterize Aeneas's behavior towards Dido after Mercury reminds
him of his obligation to go to Italy? Who behaves in a more dignified
manner, Aeneas or Dido?
What role have the gods played in the affair of Dido and Aeneas?
Books 8, 10, 12
Why does Aeneas visit the underworld in Book 6?
What does the underworld look like?
Who does Aeneas meet in the underworld?
What does Anchises tell Aeneas about the future of Rome? How does he tell
him to behave when he conquers the native Italians?
What is depicted on the shield of Aeneas?
Compare Homer's description of the shield of Achilles to Vergil's description
of the shield of Aeneas.
How would you characterize Aeneas's treatment of Magus, Mezentius, and Lausus?
Does Aeneas's behavior in this episode change the way you feel about his
character? Does it cause you to think about his mission in a different
Compare Homer's description of the death of Hector to Vergil's description
of the death of Turnus.
Compare the ending of the Aeneid to the ending of the Iliad.
In what ways is the Aeneid a work of propaganda that supports Rome under
Augustus? Is it possible that it also undermines the ideals of Augustan
Rome? At the end of the poem Aeneas has conquered his enemy, he will
establish the settlement that will eventually become Rome under Augustus, the
descendent of his son Ascanius (Iulus, cf. Julius, as in Julius Caesar,
Augustus's adoptive uncle), and everyone from Gibraltar to the Levant will live
happily ever after under the pax Romana. But what has Aeneas
sacrificed in order to achieve this? Is it worth it?