Quick Directory
Background of the Aeneid
Virgil
Beginning of a legend
Foundations for the Aeneid
Rome’s History
Birth of Rome
Evolution of the city-state
Expansion and war
Who’s Who in the Aeneid
Gods and Goddesses
People in the Aeneid
Objects of Places of Importance

Background of the Aeneid

Virgil

Unlike Homer and The Iliad, Virgil and The Aeneid are undeniably connected. While it is debatable who Homer was, if he existed, or who really wrote the epics accredited Homer, it is very clear who Virgil is. Virgil’s given name was Publius, of the Vergilius clan, the family of Maro, hence Publius Vergilius Maro. He was born in 70 B.C., five years before Horace and on the same day Lucretius died (October 15), in a small town near Mantua, to a farmer’s family. Soon he found that farming was not to be his roll in life, and he left his father’s farm to study Greek and Latin by moving to Cremona, then Mediolanum, and finally Rome. While a student in Rome Virgil met Gaius Asinius Pollio, who was a great literary man in his own right and military governor of the territory north of the Po river, who encouraged and helped Virgil. When the Roman Civil War started Virgil left Rome for Naples where his attention shifted to philosophy, and where he ment Epicurean and Siro. The first recognized work of Virgil were his ten Eclogues which he wrote from 45 to 37 B.C., and the four book Georgics written from 36 to 29 B.C. One of his last accomplishments was to “be among kings” when he found himself as an advisor to Octavian, emperor of the great Roman Empire, and it was finally in 27 B.C. that Virgil was set to begin work on The Aeneid, which was never finished in his eyes. For you see, on his death bed in Brundisium on September 22, 19 B.C. at nearly age 51, Virgil requested his epic be burnt as it was still three years from completion. In the end however he was, and will always be remembered, as a poet, one of the great in human history, and a man without rival. For eternity the great poet known simply as Virgil rests near Naples; where, at the crest of the rock that overhangs the grotto of Posilipo, beneath a low ivy-grown roof of stone, is the epitaph:-

MANTVA ME GENVIT : CALABRI RAPVERE : TENET NVNC

PARTHENOPE : CENCINI PASCVA RVRA DVCES.

Beginning of a legend

The Aenied truly begins with the blood line of Aeneas, and as the story line goes Atlas, one of the gods defeated by Zeus in his bid for power, had a daughter named Electra who had an affair with Zeus. This love produced two sons, one named Dardanus and the other named Iasius. From there the story goes to Dardanus who traveled from a land west of Greece, present day Italy, and founded the city of Darania in Asia Minor. Once there he married the daughter of a near by king, Teucer, and had a child, Erichthonius. Erichthonius in turn had a child, Tros (Troy), who had three sons of his own, Ganymede, Assaracus, and Ilus (Ilium). Assaracus had a child, Capys, who in turn had a child named Anchises. Ilus meanwhile had a child named Laomedon, who in turn had a child of his own named Priam. Thus Anchises and Priam were second cousins, and that means that their children were third cousins. These two third cousins, Aeneas and Hector, would play out roles in the Iliad of great significance. Hector would face Achilles out side the walls of Troy (Ilium) and die in his effort. Aeneas also faced Achilles, but a different fate befell Aeneas.

Foundations for the Aeneid

The Iliad, Book XX, saw Aeneas and Achilles come to terms with each other on the battlefield outside the gates of Troy. The most important part of this encounter though is what is said by Poseidon:

“. . .Come now, we ourselves may take him out of danger, and make sure that Zeus shall not be angered by his death at Achilles’ hands. His fate is to escape to ensure that the great line of Dardanus may not unseeded perish from the world. . .Therefore Aeneas and his sons, and theirs, will be lords over Trojans born hereafter.”

Rather on purpose or not this set up the foundation for the Aeneid with the simple words, “Trojans born hereafter”. So Homer states that try as they might the Greeks will not destroy all vestiges of the city of Troy, but that to some extent its inhabitants will be spared from death or slavery.

Rome's History

Birth of Rome

Originally a small village of Latin-speaking farmers situated on the Latium plain near the Tiber river, Rome quickly grew into a city-state like Athens, Sparta, Thebes, and countless others. However the once simple farmers banded together, and threw out the Etruscans. The Romans quickly assembled a imperium, two consuls appointed annually by popular vote, and a senate (a council of elders from the community).

Evolution of the city-state

The end of the sixth century B.C. saw Rome evolved into a republic, but this was just the beginning. Slowly Rome took over central Italy from the Sabines, Etruscans, Volscians, Oscans, Umbrians, and several other tribes including the Samnites and Lucanians in southern Italy. As quickly as Rome conquered they built roads, and made enemies into allies or citizens. During this expansion the Romans ran into Greek civilization in cities across southern Italy like Cumae, Naples, and Tarentum. It was while conquering the Greek colonies that the Romans truly came into touch with the Greek legends the likes of Zeus, Hera, Achilles, Hector, and most significantly the legend of Troy.

Expansion and war

This continual expansion lead the Romans to Sicily, a colony that was controlled by a city located one hundred miles southwest of Sicily at a harbor on the north coast of Africa, a city called Carthage. Carthage itself was a colony, at one time, of Phoenician’s from Tyre. Students of history might remember that the city-state of Tyre refused to become a part of Alexander the Greats’ empire, and was besieged by Alexander. The siege ended in the destruction of Tyre, much like its colony’s end centuries later. For more than a hundred years Rome and Carthage were at war for control of Sicily, Sardinia, Corsica, and Spain. Finally Rome emerged victorious at the battle of Zama outside Carthage thanks to Roman General Scipio Africanus’ brilliant leadership. Later, with its army and navy destroyed Cathage had no power, but Rome sought what it called “revenge”. Thus Cato, a Roman states man leading an anti-Carthage movement, got his way, and the city of Carthage was burned, the earth salted, its citizens killed or enslaved in an un-provoked third Punic War.

Who’s Who in the Aeneid

Gods and Goddesses

[Greek names are given in brackets]

Aeolus:
Ruler of the winds.
Allecto:
One of the Furies.
Aloeus:
Father of the Titans Otus and Ephialtes, who waged was against Jupiter.
Amor:
God of love.
Apollo:
Son of Jupiter, brother of Diana, god of music and the lyre.
Argus:
Hundred-eyed guard set over Io by Juno.
Asclepius:
God of medicine.
Atlas:
A Titan, son of Iapetus, father of Electra and Maia; a mountian in North Africa.
Aurora:
The Dawn.
Bacchus:
God of wine [Dionysus].
Bellona:
Goddess of war and bloodshed.
Boreas:
The North Wind.
Briareus:
Hundred armed monster.
Calliope:
Chief of the Muses.
Carmentis:
Nymph and prophetess, mother of Evander.
Cerberus:
Three headed dog guarding the entrance to hell; it was one of Hercules’ labors to bring this dog to the upper world.
Charon:
Boatsman of the underworld.
Cymodoce:
A sea Nymph.
Cymothoe:
A sea Nymph.
Cytherea:
A name of Venus.
Deiopea:
A sea nymph, promised in marriage to Aeolus by Juno.
Diana [Artemis]:
Daughter of Jupiter, twin sister of Apollo, goddess of the moon and hunting.
Dis [Hades]:
God of the underworld.
Egeria:
A nymph, who instructed Numa (second king of Rome) in ritual practises.
Electra:
Daughter of Atlas, sister of Maia, mother of Jupiter of Dardanus and Iasius.
Enceladus:
A Titan who fought against Jupiter.
Erato:
Muse of love.
Eumenides:
The Furies.
Faunus:
Italian woodland god, son of Pilumnus, father of Latinus.
Fides:
Roman goddess of faith and loyalty.
Galatea:
A Nereid.
Glaucus:
Sea god.
Harpalyce:
A Nymph.
Hecate:
Goddess associated with the underworld, witchcraft and the moon; goddess of the crossroads.
Iris:
Goddess of the rainbow, messenger of Juno.
Janus:
Two-headed god of beginnings and entrances.
Jove:
Common name of Jupiter.
Juno [Hera]:
Sister and wife of Jupiter, hostile to the Trojans.
Jupiter [Zeus]:
Son of Saturn, husband of Juno, supreme god.
Juturna:
A nyph, sister of Turnus.
Lar:
Household god, the god of a place, the protecting deity.
Latona [Leto]:
Mother of Apollo and Diana.
Maia:
Daughter of Atlas, sister of Electra, mother of Hermes.
Mars [Ares]:
God of war, son of Jupiter and Juno.
Megaera:
One of the Furies.
Mercury [Hermes]:
Son of Jupiter and Maia, messenger of Jupiter.
Minerva [Athena]:
Warrior goddess of wisdom and the crafts, daughter of Jupiter.
Neptune [Poseidon]:
Brother of Jupier, god of the sea; with Apollo he built the wall of Troy for Laomedon.
Nereids:
Greek patronymic, sea nymphs.
Nereus:
A sea god, son of Ocean.
Ocean:
Personification of the river supposedly surrounding the inhabited earth.
Palaemon:
A sea god, son of Ino.
Palicus:
A Sicilian deity, worshiped near the river Symaethus.
Pan:
Greek rustic god; identified with Latin Faunus.
Panopea:
Sea Nymph.
Parcae:
The Fates; Italian goddesses presiding over birth and death, identified with the three Greek Fates: Clotho (who spins the thread of life), Lachesis (who allots the portion of thread to each indivivual), and Atropos (who cuts the thread of life).
Penates:
Household gods of the Trojans, transferred to Rome.
Phoebus:
A name for Apollo.
Picus:
Italian woodland god, father of Faunus, son of Saturn.
Pilumnus:
Italian woodland god, ancestor of Turnus.
Portunus:
God of harbors.
Saturn [Cronos]:
Father of Jupiter, Juno, and the other Olympian gods.
Silvanus:
Roman god of woods.
Thetis:
Most famous of the Nereids, mother of Achilles.
Tiberinus:
The river-god of Tiber.
Tisiphone:
One of the Furies.
Titans:
Giant children of Earth; they waged was against Jupiter, were defeated and punished.
Tityos:
A Titan who tried to rape Latona, slain by Apollo and Diana.
Triton:
Sea-god, son of Neptune.
Typhoes:
Titan who fought against Jupiter.
Venilia:
Nymph, mother of Turnus.
Venus [Aphrodite]:
Goddess of love, daughter of Jupiter, mother of Aeneas by Anchises.
Vesta:
Roman goddess of the hearth.
Vulcan:
God of fire and the forge, husband of Venus.
Zephyr:
The west wind.

People in the Aeneid

[Greeks are also called Achaeans, Danaans, or Argives]
[Abas means a Trojan leader, a Greek, or an Etruscan]
[Actor means a Trojan or an Auruncan]

Acamas:
A Greek.
Acca:
A companion of Camilla.
Acestes:
King of Sicily, friend of the Trojans.
Achaemenides:
A Greek rescued by Trojans from the land of Cyclops.
Achates:
A Trojan, friend of Aeneas.
Achilles:
Son of Peleus and Thetis; slayer of Hector.
Acoetes:
An Arcadian, companion of Pallas, former armor-bearer of Evander.
Acrisius:
Father of Danae.
Acron:
A Greek exile, slain by Mezentius.
Adrastus:
King of Argos, one of the seven kings who fought against Thebes.
Aeacides:
Greek patronymic (descendant of Seacus, father of Peleus), a name for Achilles or Pyrrhus.
Aegaeon:
A name of Briareus.
Aeneas:
Son of Anchises and Venus, leader of the Trojans after the destruction of Troy.
Agamemnon:
Leader of the Greek expedition against Troy, king of Mycenae
Agathyrsans:
Inhabitants of Scythia.
Agenor:
Ancient ruler in Tyre.
Agrippa:
Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa, friend, general, and son-in-law of Augustus.
Ajax (lesser):
Son of Oileus, he raped Cassandra and was killed by Minerva, in whose temple Cassandra had sought refuge.
Ajax (greater):
Son of Telamon.
Alcanor:
A Trojan, father of Pandarus and Bitias.
Alcides:
Greek patronymic, grandson of Alcaeus.
Aletes:
A Trojan.
Almo:
Oldest son of Tyrrhus, brother of Silvia.
Amata:
Wife of Latinus, queen of Laurentum.
Amazons:
A race of women warriors, allies of Troy.
Amphitryon:
Mortal father of Hercules.
Amphrysian:
Epithet of Apollo derived from river in Thessaly near which he tended sheep for Admetus.
Amycus:
King of the Bebrycii (a people in Asia Minor); a famous boxer.
Anchemolus:
A Latin, descendant of Rhoetus.
Anchises:
Father of Aeneas by Venus, son of Capys; crippled by a flash of lightning by Jupiter because he boasted of Venus’ love.
Ancus:
Ancus Martius, fourth king of Rome.
Androgeos:
Son of Minos, Killed at Athens.
Andromache:
Wife of Hector.
Anius:
Priest of Apollo, king of Delos.
Anna:
Sister of Dido.
Antenor:
A Trojan, founder of patavium (modern Padua).
Antheus:
A Trojan leader.
Antiphates:
Illegitimate son of Sarpedon, ally of the Trojans.
Antonius:
Marc Antony, rival of Octavian, defeated at Actium in 31 B.C.
Aricia:
Mother of Virbius.
Arruns:
An Etruscan, kills Camilla.
Ascanius:
Son of Aeneas and Creusa.
Asilas:
An Etruscan leader and prophet.
Assaraci:
Two soldiers of Aeneas.
Assaracus:
Son of Tros, great-grandfather of Aeneas.
Astyanax:
Son of Hector and Andromache.
Astyr:
An Etruscan leader.
Atinas:
A Rutulian.
Atridae:
The sons of Atreus, Agamemnon, and Menelaus.
Atys:
A young Trojan.
Aulestes:
An Etruscan leader.
Auruncans:
A name for the original inhabitans of Italy in Campania.
Automedon:
A Greek, armor-bearer for Pyrrhus.
Aventinus:
Son of Hercules.
Barca:
People of North Africa; Barca was the name of the family to which Hannibal belonged.
Barce:
Nurse of Sychaeus.
Belus:
Father of Dido, ruler of Tyre.
Beroe:
Wife of Doryclus.
Brutus:
Lucius Junius Brutus, leader of the expulsion of the Tarquin kings from Rome.
Caieta:
Nurse of Aeneas.
Camilia:
Leader of the Volscians, daughter of Metabus, slain by Arruns.
Capys:
King of Alba Longa.
Carians:
A people from western Asia Minor.
Cassandra:
Daughter of Priam, beloved of Apollo and endowed with prophetic skil by him, but when she failed to keep her promises to him she was punished in that no one would ever believe her prophecies.
Cecrops:
The first king of Athens.
Celaeno:
Leader of the Harpies.
Cisseus:
King of Thrace, father of Hecuba.
Coras:
Latin, founder of Tibur, brother of Catillus and Tiburtus.
Coroebus:
Son of Mygdon, King of Phrygia, in love with Cassandra.
Creusa:
Wife of Aeneas at Troy.
Dahae:
Nomadic people of Scythia.
Danaus:
Legendary king of Argos, who incited his fifty daughters to murder their husbands (the fifty sons of Aegyptus); all except Hypermnestra obeyed.
Dardanus:
Son of Jupiter and Electra, son-in-law of Teucer, ancestor of the house of Priam, founder of Troy.
Daunians:
Inhabitants of Daunia, area of Apulia in southern Italy.
Dido:
Queen and founder of Carthage, daughter of Belus King of Tyre, wife of Sychaeus.
Dolopians:
People of Thessaly, allies of the Greek in the Trojan War.
Drusi:
Important family in the history of Rome.
Epeos:
Greek, designer of the wooden horse.
Eryx:
Half brother of Aeneas and a great boxer.
Etruscans:
People of Eturia.
Evander:
King of Pallanteum, father of Pallas, ally of Aeneas.
Gaetulans:
People to the south of Carthage.
Hector:
Son of Priam, leader of the Trojan forces in the Iliad, killed by Achilles.
Hecuba:
Daughter of Cisseus, wife of Priam, mother of Hector.
Helen:
Daughter of Leda by Jupiter (her mortal father was Tyndareus), wife of Menelaus, abducted by Paris and the cause of the Trojan War.
Helenus:
Prophet, son of Priam, husband of Andromache in “Little Troy” after the death of Pyrrhus.
Hippolyta:
A queen of the Amazons who fell in love with Theseus.
Iapyx:
Trojan, physician of Aeneas, son of Iasus.
Iarbas:
African king, son of Jupiter Hammon, suitor of Dido.
Iasius:
Son of Jupiter and Electra, brother of Dardanus with whom he migrated from Italy to Asia Minor.
Inachus:
Legendary first king of Argos, father of Io.
Laomedon:
King of Troy, son of Ilus; cheated Neptune and Apollo of promised reward for building walls of Troy.
Leleges:
A people of Asia Minor.
Liburnians:
A people living in Illyria, on the Adriatic.
Lycurgus:
An ancient ruler of Thrace.
Machaon:
A Greek warrior and physician.
Massylians:
People living to the west of Carthage.
Minos:
Ancient king of Crete, after his death a judge of the underworld.
Morini:
A people from northern Gaul.
Orestes:
The son of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra; he killed Clytemnestra to avenge her murder of Agamemnon.
Osinius:
Etruscan, king of Clusium.
Paris:
Son of Priam and Hecuba, brother of Hector; his abduction of Helen caused the Trojan War.
Peleus:
Father of Achilles.
Pelides:
Name for Achilles.
Phoenicians:
A name for the Tyrians, inhabitants of the kingdom of Tyre on the east coast of the Mediterranean.
Priam:
King of Troy, father of Hector, killed by Pyrrhus.
Romulus:
Descendant of Aeneas, son of Rhea Silvia, borther of Remus, founder of the city of Rome.
Sabines:
Rustic, mountain-dwelling tribe of centeral Italy.
Silvius:
Son of Aeneas by Lavinia.
Sinon:
Greek who works the stratagem of the wooden horse.
Tarchon:
Leader of the Etruscans, ally of Aeneas.
Tarquin:
Name of the fifth and seventh kings of Rome; the seventh king, Tarquin the Proud, was expelled in 509 B.C.
Thybris:
A king of the ancient Italians from whom the Tiber was named.
Tros:
Grandson of Dardanus; father of Ilus, assaracus and Ganymede.
Tullus:
Tullus Hostilius, third king of Rome.
Turnus:
Son of Daunus and Venilia, king of the Rutulians, leads the Italian forces against Aeneas.
Tuscans:
Another name for the inhabitants of Etruria, the Etruscans.
Ulysses [Odysseus]:
A Greek warrior, major figure in the Iliad and Odyssey, particularly hateful to the Trojans
Volcens:
A Latin cavalry leader.

Objects or Places of Importance

Acarnanian of Acarnania:
An area of Greece north of the Peloponnese.
Acestes:
A city of western Sicily.
Acragas:
A city on the coast of southwest Sicily.
Actium:
A promontory in western Greece; site of famous victory at sea by Octavian over Antony and Cleopatra (31 B.C.); site of temple to Apollo.
Adige:
River north of the Po.
Adriatic:
Sea on Italy’s east coast.
Aeaean:
The island of Circe.
Aegean:
Sea on south and east coast of Greece.
Aeolia:
Realm of Aeolus, home of the winds.
Aetna:
A volcano in Sicily.
Aetolian:
Area of northern Greece.
Alba Longa:
Second settlement of the Trojans in Italy, their home for three hundred years.
Albula:
Ancient name of the Tiber.
Albunea:
Name of a grove and fountian near Lavinium.
Allia:
A river in Latium near the Tiber, site of a major Roman defeat by the Gauls in 390 B.C.
Alpheus:
A river of the Peloponnese.
Altars, The:
reefs in the sea between Sicily and Italy.
Amasenus:
A river southeast of Rome.
Amathus:
A city of southern Cyprus, iste of a temple to Venus.
Amsanctus:
A valley containing a sulphurous lake, near the center of Italy.
Amyclae:
A city south of Rome, in Campania; traditionally referred to as “silent”.
Anagnia:
A city of the Hernici, southeast of Rome.
Angitia:
A forest near Lake Fucinus.
Anio:
A tributary of the Tiber.
Antander:
A Trojan, founder of Patavium (modern Padua).
Apulia:
A region of southern Italy.
Araxes:
A river of Armenia.
Arcadia:
An area of the centeral Peloponnese, noted for its simplicity.
Arcturus:
Brightest star of the constellation Bootes; its rising and setting were associated with bad weather.
Ardea:
City of Latium, capital of the Rutulians, home of Turnus.
Arethusa:
A fountian in Sicily, into which the nymph Arethusa was changed after her pursuit by the river Alpheus.
Argos:
A place name with varied referents, often used to refer to a town and region of the Peloponnese especially dear to Juno; also, a generalized name for Greece.
Arisba:
A city in the Troad.
Arpi:
A city of southern Italy, settled by Diomedes.
Athos:
A mountian in northern Greece.
Aufidus:
A violent river in Apulia.
Aulis:
A seaport in Greece where the Greek fleet gathered before the Trojan War.
Ausonia:
A generalized term for Italy.
Aventine:
One of the seven hills of Rome.
Avernus:
A lake near Cumae associated with the underworld.
Bactra:
The capital of Bactria in Asia.
Bebrycian:
Of Bebrycia, a part of Bithnyia, a district in Asia Minor.
Berecynthus:
Mountian in Phrygia associated with the worship of Cycbele.
Buthrotum:
Town of Chaonia.
Campania:
An area of southern Italy on the Tyrrhenian Sea.
Capitoline:
One of the seven hills of Rome.
Carthage:
A city of North Africa, founded by Dido and the Tyrian exiles; traditional enemy of Rome.
Caspia:
Terretory surrounding the Caspian Sea.
Caulon:
A city of southern Italy.
Ceraunia:
A mountain chain in Epirus.
Cithaeron:
A mountain in Greece near Thebes, sacred to Bacchus.
Cnossus:
Ancient capital of Minos in Crete.
Corinth:
City in Greece, sacked by the Romans in 146 B.C.
Cosa:
Famous Etruscan city.
Cyllene:
Highest mountian in the Peloponnese, birthplace of Mercury.
Cynthus:
Ridge in Delos (birthplace of Apollo and Diana).
Cythera:
Island south of Greece, near which Venus was born.
Dardania:
Generallized name for Troy and the area around Troy.
Dicte:
Mountain in Crete where Jupiter was born.
Drepanum:
City in northwestern Sicily.
Elysium:
Region of happiness in the underworld, to which the souls of the good are sent.
Etruria:
Region of Italy north of Latium.
Euboea:
Large island off the eastern coast of Greece.
Eurotas:
River on which Sparta was located.
Fidenae:
Ancient town near Rome.
Gaul:
Modern France.
Gela:
City and river in southern Sicily.
Lemnos:
Aegean island on which Vulcan fell when he was hurled out of heaven by Jupiter.
Lethe:
A river in the underworld; those who drink from it forget the past.
Lycia:
A region of Asia Minor allied to Troy.
Lydia:
A region of Asia Minor, original home of Etruscans.
Mincius:
A tributary of the Po.
Nar:
A Tributary of the Tiber.
Numicius:
River of Latium.
Oenotria:
Generalized term for all of Italy.
Olympus:
Dwelling of the gods.
Orcus:
The underworld.
Pactolus:
River of Lydia, famous for gold.
Palatine:
One of the seven hills of Rome.
Peloponnese:
Peninsula forming the southern part of the Greek mainland.
Po:
River of northern Italy.
Scaean:
Main gates of Troy on which the city’s saftey depended.
Simois:
A river of Troy.
Styx:
A river of the underworld.
Tiber:
The river of Italy on which Rome is located.
Tyre:
Homeland of Dido, capital of ancient Phoenicia in the eastern Mediterranean.
Tyrrhene:
Sea on western coast of Italy.
Xanthus:
Name of the Scamander River.

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