THE AENEID by Virgil Brief introduction to the Aeneid Virgil Augustus
The Aeneid • Brief introduction to the text: • Virgil began constructing the Aeneid around 30 B.C. It is about the Roman hero Aeneas and the founding of Rome. • The text was composed to celebrate ideas that the Romans valued, these being truth, justice and the Roman way of life. The text especially promotes the Roman way of life under Augustus, which are known as the Golden years.
Two books you may like to read (from the Nat. library): • Williams, R.D. (1973) Aeneas and the Roman Hero. Macmillan. • Looks at main themes specific to Yr13. • Anderson, W.S. (1969) The Art of the Aeneid. Prentice-Hall. • A good introduction into the themes of the Aeneid.
The Aeneid • Why is it important and is it relevant today? • Virgil creates a Roman heritage. From the rubble of Troy Aeneas a survivor of Troy leads his followers to the west, Italy to create another city. • An epic poem in this case is a secondary epic when the author deliberately imitates the traditional form of an epic. In this instance Virgil’s Aeneid copies the form of Homer’s Odyssey or Iliad. USE OF INTERTEXTUALITY.
RE-CAP With the person next to you answer the following: • What is the Aeneid about? • How does it provide us with a history of the Roman Empire?
The man behind the Aeneid Born: 70 B.C. Died: 19 B.C. Full name Publius Vergilius Maro.
The Eclogues (meaning selections) • Began around 42 B.C. Published 37 B.C. • Pastoral style of poetry. • Ten books. • Finished in 29 B.C. • The four books discuss grain production, growing of vineyards, raising animals and beekeeping. The Georgics
Relationship with Augustus • When Augustus gained full control of the Empire (around 31 B.C.) he gave Virgil two country estates and an annual allowance. • It was suggested to Virgil that he create an epic in Augustus’ honour. • BUT Virgil’s main aim was not to write propaganda for his patron.
Augustus (Caius Julius Caesar Octavianus) • Born: Sept. 23rd 63 B.C. • Died: August 19th, 14 B.C. • Julius Caesar, Augustus’ uncle, adopted him. Therefore through the Julian line, Augustus considered himself a descendant of Aeneas. • In Apollonia, Epirus, 44 B.C. Augustus learned of Julius’ assassination and the will which named him heir. • Gained power through an alliance known as the triumvirate (consisting of Octavian, Marc Antony and Lepidus). • Octavian defeats Marc Antony at the battle of Actium on September 2nd 30 B.C. Octavian becomes Augustus Caesar. • He kept up the pretence of a Roman Republic but in fact he was the first Roman Emperor – Imperator. • Herald in the Golden Age – end of Civil Wars.
Was the Aeneid Augustan propaganda? • Yes! Or NO? • Yes: the Aeneid was written in response to Augustus’ deliberate cultural programme. It demonstrated Roman and Augustus dominance and cherished Roman ideals (peace and prosperity).
The Aeneid deals with the issue of a national identity. Aeneas after the destruction of Troy must set out and create a new city in the west. Him and his companions must fight the existing Italians (Turnus). In the final book Aeneas defeats Turnus thus strengthening the idea that Romans are ‘winners’. • The Aeneid portrays the idea that the world needs the Romans to set everything right. E.g. the Shield that Vulcan creates for Aeneas depicts the battle of Actium – Augustus and the unified Italians against Marc Antony and the East.
Was the Aeneid Augustan propaganda? • No: the poem highlights the suffering, loss and nostalgia. Virgil may have believed in Rome but he was aware of the costs it took to create it. • Jupiter’s prophecy to Venus in Book 1 ends with a description of extreme violence.
Read p5-9 (The tale of Troy: through Greek eyes – Honouring the greatness of Rome) • Jot down points about how the Greeks and Romans viewed Troy and any differences they may have.