Classics Summarized: The Aeneid



The Aeneid was written by Virgil, that guy from the Inferno, around 30 BC and it was meant to serve as a sort of continuation to the Iliad and the Odyssey, both written by Homer more than 800 years previously. Virgil was commissioned to write the piece by Caesar Augustus, who demanded that the poet write him a kick-ass power ballad glorifying him. Virgil, on the other hand, was a clever bastard who didn’t like Augustus all that much and instead opted to write an epic glorifying Rome, while surreptitiously mocking Augustus the whole time. Our hero, Aeneas, is meant to parallel Augustus in actions and certain key events to serve as a sort of historical insert character for the Caesar. This might be why Aeneas is described as a really swell guy But in practice acts like rather a knob head. So, our story begins shortly after the events of The Trojan War where we see Hera absolutely losing it and raging against the Trojans. Strangely enough, not because of their actions in the war itself, but instead because there is *in deep voice* a prophecy *fantastic guitar riff* That’s right! Apparently, It was foretold that not only would Troy would survive the aggressive tan the Achaeans gave it, But it would live on as an immensely powerful empire in Italy, known as Rome. Hera objects to this because the prophecy also states that the Romans will bring about the destruction of Carthage, which is her favorite city. Anyway, We learn that an intrepid young hero has managed to escape the flames of Troy, and is sailing for Italy, known back then as Hesperia, along with a whole fleet of refugees. This hero is Aeneas, who you may remember as having been an immensely unimportant player in the Iliad. He was that guy, who Aphrodite dropped when Diomedes, shot a spear through her wrist. but Aeneas carried the distinction of being Aphrodite’s son, as well as the Rome’s favorite hero and ancestral founder so I guess he’s the hero of this tale So Anyway, Hera, or as the Romans called her Juno, is having none of this Aeneas surviving nonsense and calls upon King Aeolus for help. As you may recall, Aeolus appeared briefly in the odyssey He was that King who gave Odysseus that magic bag of wind. and Juno bribes him with the offer of a sexy nymph wife, if he unleashes the fury on Aeneas’ fleet. Aeolus, amazingly, turns down the offer of steamy nereid loving, but for some reason still does as she asks and Aeneas’ fleet is devastated by the resulting hurricane. But this in turn pisses off Poseidon, oh I’m sorry, I meant Neptune. God, this is more confusing than those stupid Percy Jackson books Anyway, Yeah Neptune is all like *deep voice* I’m the only Deity who gets to make life unnecessarily complex for a hero of the Trojan war is me! And banishes the storm leaving the damaged Trojan fleet to sail to a port in Libya. Neptune then presumably went back to tossing Cyclopes at Odysseus. So Aeneas manages to dock his fleet And then he gives a nice little rousing speech to the rather disheartened Trojans. Although, He’s mostly talking out of his ass, as he has no idea where they are or really where they’re supposed to be going. So Aphrodite, alias Venus, sees her darling boy having so much trouble being so perfect and beautiful all the time and runs off to Zeus, aka Jove, and is like *high voice* dad and/or nephew , It’s just not fair! Why did you let Troy get all smashed up Where’s my baby boy supposed to live now and Jove slash Zeus is like *deep voice*fear not my daughter and or auntie for you see there is a prophecy *fantastic guitar riff* So Jove explains, that Aeneas is destined to lead to the founding of Rome, the most kick-ass of all Empire’s ever. Clearly they did not Yet have a prophecy regarding the founding of America *sped up Star Spangled Banner on a Electric Guitar* so Venus drops down to Earth disguised ,as a huntress, to give aeneas directions to the nearest city which happens to be Carthage ruled by Queen Dido. If that name sounds at all familiar She showed up in Dante’s Inferno in the second circle of hell, so yeah, I’m sure this story is gonna go great for her. So, Aeneas and the Trojan refugees head to Carthage, where Queen Dido happily invites them to rest up offers to repair their ships and even suggest that if they need a place to stay that Carthage is always open to them Then Dido is like, Oh Aeneas, what to tell us some of your awesome adventures over dinner? but not at all like odysseus Did when he reached Facia and aeneas is like sure thing, babe it all started shortly before my city caught fire So Aenis recounts the final days of the Trojan war which really started [getting] interesting when the trojan army roared into the Greek camp only to Find it entirely deserted save for an enormous wooden horse and a lone greek kid named Sinon or Sinon? Who they promptly captured Sinon claims that the greek army ran off leaving him behind as a sacrifice to appease the gods So they’d let them set sail. Fans of Iphigenia will note that this is in fact a strategy that the greeks have employed previously to great effect and with absolutely NO NEGATIVE CONSEQUENCES. anyway, they asked about the horse and Sinon is like “that is an extremely complicated monument to athena be careful if you damage the statue at all She’ll get pissed and strike you down with Great vengeance on the other hand if you take it into your city She’ll favor you and next time you’ll beat the greeks for sure!” So the Trojan King priam is like seems legit And they drag the horse into town before I go any further There’s an interesting bit of symbolism to note the trojan horse is described as a monument to Athena and in a strange way it is Athena is the goddess of wisdom, yes. But she’s also a goddess of war as such her cunning is often manifested into complex strategy and avoiding Direct confrontation, as opposed to the manifestation of war that Ares represented which was rather more brute force and ignorance. So while the use of the Trojan horse is seen as a deceitful tactic It is undeniably a valid strategy and a brilliant one at that. In this way, it really is a tribute to Athena. Okay, that’s it for the analysis part, write your own damn paper. Anywho- The Trojan horse turns out to have been full of bloodthirsty Greeks Spoiler alert by the way. So Aeneas, faced with the prospect of his beloved city being turned into a flaming warzone, does the heroic thing and runs very far in the opposite direction. Our hero, everybody. Well, that’s not entirely true, he does put up a pretty good fight. Then he runs into Helen and considers brutally murdering her for events entirely beyond her control. Our hero, everybody! But Venus convinces him not to kill Helen, explaining that the war and the ruin of Troy weren’t actually her fault. You’re goddamn right, it wasn’t her fault, Venus! It wasn’t her fault because it was your fault for kidnapping her in the first place! Helen hasn’t done a damn thing in this entire stupid epic cycle! *sigh of anger* Anyway, Aeneas flees the Battlefield and builds a fleet to escape. Then he goes island hopping until eventually reaching the foreign safe haven of Carthage. And if that sounds eerily reminiscent of the entire first half of the Odyssey… Well it should. Here are the only important things that happen along the way. Apollo whoops, I mean uh… Oh, I actually do mean Apollo. Anyway, Apollo is like, “Yo Aeneas. Go fulfill the prophecy.” *epic guitar riff* And sends him to the land of his ancestors, that is, Italy, which isn’t a thing yet. So, Aeneas is rather confused as to where he’s really supposed to go. Aeneas manages to get cursed by a harpy who dooms him to be unable to find Italy until the crew gets so hungry that they have to eat their own tables. Oddly specific. The text does not elaborate on why exactly the Trojans didn’t attempt a little table nibbling whenever they were having trouble finding this stupid place. Aeneas, on his way to Scylla and Charybdis, lands on the Island of the Cyclops, where he runs into Achaemenides. If the name sounds unfamiliar, that’s because he didn’t exist before Virgil retro actively wrote him into the Odyssey, where supposedly he was one of Odysseus’s as crew members. And because Aeneas is just so perfect, of course he takes him on board, despite the fact that Achaemenides is a Greek, and therefore one of the enemy. Anyway, that’s pretty much the end of Aeneas’s story. Yeah, he didn’t bother recounting how he made it past Scylla and Charybdis. Guess it was just that easy for him. *sighs* So Dido finds herself falling in love with Aeneas. But she’s all conflicted and stuff because after her husband Sakaya died, she swore she’d never love again. But Juno once again spots a golden opportunity to keep the Trojans from reaching Italy. If she can get Aeneas to stay in Carthage with Dido, she won’t have to worry. So she schemes to exploit the one thing that Venus is vulnerable to, playing matchmaker. Yeah, that’s right. Venus knows Juno is playing her But she just can’t resist the urge to set her son up with a sexy foreign queen. Christ, okay I’ll spare you the gory details. Suffice to say that with both Juno and Venus conspiring to set Dido and Aeneas up together, they carry on a whirlwind romance and immediately get sort of married. So Aeneas relaxes in luxury for a while. Hey just like Odysseus, how about that? But Jove gets antsy with all this loafing around and sends Hermes Yeah no, they use Hermes in the text. So Jove sends Hermes down to give Aeneas a verbal kick in the rear to get him back on track to fulfilling the prophecy. *angel trumpets* So Hermes pops down and sasses Aeneas back into action and Aeneas immediately resolves to sneak away so he won’t have to explain his actions to his wife. Because that would be awkward? Well, it doesn’t matter anyway since Dido catches him trying to sneak off and demands he explain himself. So he’s like, “But Dido, I can’t stay with you. I have to fulfill the prophecy.” *ominous chorus* So Aeneas runs off and Dido commits an impressively over-the-top suicide. So first she sets herself on fire, along with all of Aeneas’s possessions and then she stabs herself with his sword. Then with her dying breath, she declares that the Carthaginians will forever be at war with Aeneas’s people. Blue: Ooh, I covered this in my Roman Republic video. This is referencing to the Punic wars of the Romans and the Carthaginian’s fall- Red: No! Blue: Oh God not the face Red: My video! Aeneas, having sailed away during all the commotion, lands on the shores of Sicily and in light of this recent and terrible tragedy, holds funeral games for his father because it’s his one year death anniversary. Way to prioritize your loved ones, jackass. So, while the men are engaging in those healthy sporting and 100% heterosexual activities, Juno sneakily persuades the Trojan women, who by now are rather sick of all the sailing nonsense, to burn their ships so that instead of continuing to search for Italy, they’ll be forced to settle in Sicily instead. This is actually a pretty great idea so the ladies set the boats on fire and all the men folk freak out and try to put it out. When that doesn’t work, Jove does what he does best and summons a massive thunderstorm to put out the fires instead. So: crisis averted, right? Well, yeah. But even Aeneas has to admit that all this sailing around is getting pretty old. So he gives the people too frail or too bored to continue sailing to Italy the option of staying and founding their own city right there in Sicily. So Aeneas, with a greatly reduced crew, Sets off towards italy once more and this time around to ensure that no more Shenanigans happen Neptune grants them safe passage Straight to italy so yeah aeneas and the trojans finally reached Kumea sitting on the coast of italy hey, they did it but since they don’t actually know where italy is or what it looks like they don’t realize they did it [so] [then] christ then Aeneas has to travel into the underworld sound familiar Well it should so aeneas descends into the underworld all the dead Greeks flee him because clearly Aeneas was such a [first-tier] here over the iliad that every akeem would know and fear him and then he talks to his dad and [kisses] who tells him the prophecy according to the prophecy [Aeneas] is destined to lead to the founding of a great city in italy that will rise to become a great empire and Usher in A worldwide Golden age for the record the ones who actually do the heavy lifting are aeneas is descendants romulus and remus? [so] when he has pops back out of the underworld and they sail up the Italian coast to latium which Virgil tells us is currently Ruled by King latinus who has a single daughter Lavinia who is currently being pursued by a ludicrous number of aspiring Suitors and if that? One woman being pursued by a ludicrous number of aspiring Suitors while her real husband is coming up the coast sounds familiar Well it should of these suitors The most desirable is a latin bloke named [ernest], but latinus is informed in a dream that his daughter shouldn’t marry a latin But instead a foreigner a very specific foreigner cut to aeneas eating pizza on the beach, okay? It’s not pizza per se But it is toppings on flatbread so it’s basically pizza anyway one of ├Žneas men is like hey check it out We got so hungry we ate our bread table plate things and aeneas is like a prophecy As you may recall that harpy from earlier that we glossed over said they wouldn’t find italy until they ate their tables And now they’re in italy sort of eating their sort of tables and things just keep getting better for Aeneas since as soon as latinus Lays eyes on him he decides that the light is the perfect Foreigner to marry his daughter – so that’s it right aeneas is destined to Marry Lavinia cause the founding of rome and then everything will Kick ass forever well yeah, but first There’s this war thing yeah, remember how determined Juno was to ruin everything well She’s back [juno] sends a fury alecto to mess with [latinus] his wife and make her opposed the marriage between Aeneas and Lavinia then elect those hips Over to turn us and [infects] him with the rage virus or something and then it’s off to where we go and [I’d] sounded pretty Familiar, huh So this is the part of the book where virgil Transitions seamlessly from Shamelessly ripping off the odyssey to shamelessly ripping off the iliad at this point It would be easier to list all the [things] in this war that don’t directly parallel key events in the Trojan war But that isn’t my job so here are all the things that could be generously described as mirroring key events in the iliad Aeneas Gets a pretty hearty relationship going with this kid pallas Who’s the son of this Arcadian king evander their relationship is meant to emulate that of achilles and Patroclus albeit significantly less romantic? the War is Initiated because of a woman being married to one man as opposed to a different man due to the intervention of venus no less Hephaestus Known by the Romans as Vulcan no relation forges aeneas a shield sound familiar. [well] it should To trojans embark on a nighttime stealth mission into the enemy camp They end up dead though, so that’s a difference [jove] gets mad at the Olympians juno specifically for screwing over the Troy [Aeneas] is buddy [palace] gets brutally murdered in a rather [Petropolis] like way by the hectare like enemy leader Turner’s who takes his gear [is] prompt Indecent to and achilles like rage which is temporarily interrupted by The suggestion that the war get resolved by a duel between the two leaders of the armies after some, Shenanigans they finally get them in the same place to try and kill each other, but that is interrupted because a Goddess intervenes and Coaxes a soldier into chucking a spear at one of the leaders provoking all-out war once again then aeneas burns the unprotected enemy city to the ground hey, remember when he was really mad about that happening love hypocrisy and Finally aeneas enraged by the murder of his buddy [pallas] and the fact that [ternes] is wearing [palaces] gear murders that now wounded and helpless enemy
Wonder what Hector thought of that the combination of the last two events successfully transforms annius into that which he hates the most a cross Between achilles and odysseus which is a historical fanfiction all on its own and more importantly not one. I’m remotely interested in *repeat of fantastic guitar riff*


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The epic conclusion that no-one asked for! Virgil steps up to the plate and finishes the trilogy that Homer never expected to be a trilogy.


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