Aeneid Summary Book One, Part I
timeframe starts seven years after the fall of Troy. voyage from west Sicily to Latium
opening lines • line 1: “armavirumquecano” • arma = nod to Iliad • virum = nod to Odyssey • Vergil is combining the themes from these two great epics, so he is essentially asserting his superiority over Homer here. • watch for other lines in which some form of “arma” occurs with some form of “vir”. Vergil is a very deliberate poet; he wouldn’t construct a line like that without meaning something. line 5: Aeneas has come to found a city (condereturbem) and establish his gods (inferretdeos)
the gods (lines 1-25) At the opening, Juno is not angry with Aeneas per se, but with what his descendants are supposed to do to her beloved Carthage (in the three Punic Wars between Rome and Carthage). Juno’s storm parallels the Odyssey opening with meeting Odysseus after Poseidon has caused a shipwreck. Notice throughout the poem that the gods can’t do anything about fate.
the gods (lines 1-25) • All of the reasons for Juno’s wrath: • judgment of Paris (Paris was a Trojan) that chose Venus over her • Ganymede installed as cup-bearer (among other things) by Jupiter over her relative Hebe • descendants of Aeneas will destroy Carthage (Punic Wars)
line 33 tantaemoliseratRomanamconderegentem. (of so great effort was it to found the Roman race.)
lines 34 - 80 Juno angered that she cannot do anything to stop the imminent destruction of Carthage because the Fates have decreed it, but she still tries. Goes to Aelous, king of the winds. Offers him a nymph bride in exchange for causing a storm. Of course, he agrees. (Who can resist a nymph?)
lines 81 - 96 The winds, like a military line of soldiers (nature-as-people simile), do Aelous’ bidding. line 92: first mention of Aeneas. His words: “three and four times blessed are those met death before the faces of their fathers under the high walls of Troy” (O terquequarterquebeati, quis ante orapatrumTroiae sub moenibusaltiscontigitoppetere!)
lines 97 - 100 • Aeneas wishes that Diomedes would have killed him, in an allusion to Iliad 5, and that he would be dead where Hector and so many other awesome Trojans died. • These lines are super-important for several reasons. • Is this the first speech that great Roman warrior should give? Um, no. • What might this speech be telling us about Vergil’s feelings about war and the resulting diaspora?
lines 101 - 156 Neptune is angry about the storm, since he is god of the sea, so he stops it. Lots of ellipsis in Neptune’s speech to the winds. Why? Another nature-as-people simile: Neptune acts like some dude who calms a rowdy crowd with words (could this be JC? Augustus? Just a dude?).
lines 157 - 193 The followers of Aeneas wash up on the shore of Libya in a very peaceful cave place. They are really happy about it. Achates starts a fire (beginning civilization) and they toast up some grain (Ceres = metonymy). Aeneas then looks for some other comrades and finds some deer. He shoots seven of them (one for each ship left) with Achates bow and arrow (image of Aeneas as deer hunter will come back later, so make note of it!).
lines 194 - 209 The men have some wine and food and Aeneas tries to cheer them up: you guys have suffered more serious things before, the gods will give an end to this. You suffered through Scylla and the Cyclops. Maybe you will recall this time with joy in the future. We will gain homes in Latium and rebuild Troy. Just endure. Sad things: Aeneas tries to hide the sadness in his heart and pretends to be hopeful for the sake of his men.
lines 210 - 222 They have a feast! But they are still sad for the people who are lost; should they decide they are dead and mourn them or should they keep hope alive that they are still living?
(the gods) lines 223 - 253 Jupiter has been watching these proceedings. Venus comes up to him with tears in her eyes for her son, Aeneas. Venus wants to know why the followers of Aeneas suffer so much when Jupiter promised that they are fated to be the future Roman commandeers and such. Venus gives the example of Antenor, who was a Trojan, who now has settled his people in Padua. She is especially angered because although she herself is a daughter of Jupiter and Aeneas is her son, Juno’s wrath gets to dictate all of these events.
(the gods) lines 254 - 262 Jupiter is kind of amused by her whining. He tells her that Aeneas’ fate remains unchanged. To ease her fears, he tells her all of Aeneas’ future endeavors.
(the gods) lines 263 - 266 • Jupiter’s proclamations: • Aeneas will wage war throughout Italy and bring people mores (morals, laws) and moenia(city walls) • After three years, Aeneas’ son Ascanius (now called “Iulus”) will then rule for 30 years. • Iulus will move the center of power from Lavinium to Alba Longa where kings will rule for 300 years. • Vestal Virgin named Ilia will be raped by Mars and give birth to twin boys (Romulus and Remus). • no mention is made of the feud between Romulus and Remus. I think this is significant.
(the gods) lines 267 - 282 • Jupiter’s proclamations, cont.: • Romulus’ empire will have no physical or temporal limit (necmetasrerumnectempora) • “I give an empire without end” (imperium sine fine dedi) • Juno will give up her anger and rule the Romans with me. • The Romans clad in togas will be in charge of everything ever (rerum dominos gentemquetogatam).
(the gods) lines 282 - 290 • Jupiter’s proclamations, cont.: • Rome will one day defeat Greece. • From this pretty lineage (pulchraorigine) will come a Trojan Caesar (Troianus Caesar) whose first name will be Julius, coming from the great Iulus. You will worship him as a god in the heavens. • This really could refer either to GJC or to Augustus, since he took the name upon his adoption. It’s probably Augustus because the passage refers to Caesar’s spoils won in the East, and JC doesn’t have any of those.
(the gods) lines 291 - 296 • Jupiter’s proclamations, cont.: • There will be an awesome age of peace. • Remus and Quirinus (Romulus’ deified name) will make laws together. • The Gates of War will be closed. • Crazy image of Furor caged, sitting on weapons, hands bound by a hundred bronze-locked chains, face bloody. • Augustus then had a painting of this image placed in the forum after Vergil’s death. Super weird.
lines 297 - 313 Back to the mortals: Jupiter sends Mercury down to Carthage so that Dido, queen of the Phoenicians who live in Libya now, will welcome Aeneas and his men and not turn them away. The Phoenicians are now ready to welcome the Trojans. Pius Aeneas has been worrying about many things during the night. At dawn, he decides to scout out their location. He sets out with Achates to figure out where they are.
lines 314 - 337 Who should appear to them but Venus! Of course, she is in disguise as an attractive Spartan maiden out on a hunt (super weird). She speaks to them under the pretense of finding out where her sisters are. Aeneas says he hasn’t seen her sisters, but that he knows she is not mortal. He thinks she might be Diana, so he offers her deer sacrifices in exchange for information about where they are. She says she’s not Diana, and so she doesn’t need any sacrifices.
lines 338 - 353 • Venus tells Aeneas that the Phoenicians live here now and then goes on to tell him the sad, sad story of Dido. • Sad, sad story of Dido: • Dido married Sychaeus, richest of all the Phoencians. • Her brother Pygmalion was ruling Tyre at that time. • Pygmalion killed Sychaeus to steal his money. • Pygmalion hid his crime for a long time from Dido, but she knew something was up because she kept having dreams about her dead husband.
lines 354 - 364 • Sad, sad story of Dido: • The ghost of her dead husband reveals the crimes of her brother to her in a dream. The ghost of her dead husband then tells her in a dream to escape to another place where there is some buried treasure. • She assembled all the people who hated her brother to leave with her. • She stole back the gold and sailed away! (dux feminafacti.)
lines 365 - 368 • Sad, sad story of Dido: • They sailed to this new place and bought some land and called it Carthage (new town). • The story of how they bought the land: • The Libyan natives agreed to sell to the Phoenicians as much land as could be covered with a bull’s hide and that the Carthaginians cut the hide into long strips, this securing a considerable area (don’t ask).
lines 369 - 377 Venus ends her story by asking Aeneas and Achates who they are and from where they have come, even though she already knows (gotta keep up the Spartan maiden act). Aeneas addresses her as dea because she is not fooling him. He tells her they are from Troy and thus very, very sad and their story is very, very long.
lines 378 - 386 He calls himself pius Aeneas, which is a little pretentious, if you ask me, and says that he is carrying the household gods with him and he is famous as far as the gods are concerned. He started with 20 ships for Italy. His mother showed him the way. But then a lot of people died, and now he’s got 7 ships.