Discussion Questions for Vergil’s Aeneid
- To what extent is the Aeneid a politically-driven poem? Is it propaganda? Explain why you think it is or not.
- What is the role of dreams in the Aeneid?
- How does the behavior of the gods reflect our human qualities and vices? e.g. Did Vergil do a good job exemplifying the gods as emotionally fallible and capable of all of the emotions and reactions of ‘normal’ humans?
- Is the plot of the Aeneid driven more by the Gods or by human characters? Does Aeneas, by himself, have the will to make it to Italy, or is it necessary for him to be prodded along by the gods along the way?
- Who is the first to tell Aeneas of his future in Italy?
- What to options exist concerning the nature of the Trojan horse? What was it made from?
- What could the death of Laocoön by serpents signify? Does his death seem mysterious or portentous?
- Why do Aeneas and his men have to “skirt” Scylla?
- What mistake does the oracle give Aeneas and his men to cause them to land in Crete?
- What danger does the harpy pose to Aeneas and his crew? Is there a literary parallel between the Aeneid and the Odyssey?
- Dido is a dynamic character, is she also ironic? Does she share any “expected” qualities of Roman women of Vergil’s era?
- Is Dido’s suicide considered “an honorable thing to do” to Roman readers, or is it “neither fated nor deserved”? Please select one and elaborate?
- What is the weight of prophecy from Anna, Dido’s sister?
- Are the “funeral games” for Anchises (Aeneas’ Father) rooted in Trojan and Greek life, or is this purely a Roman custom adapted into Vergil’s story?
- Why does Jupiter need to send Mercury to “remind” Aeneas of his future? Is this done to exhibit human shortcomings, despite Aeneas’ heroic figure and “piety”?
- Does Aeneas need “prodding” despite himself, or is this interaction with the gods a device employed by Vergil in the poem?
- Why do all stories that include the Underworld require the accompaniment of a “guide?”
- What birds are sacred to Venus?
- Who inhabit the Fields of Mourning? Why?
- What power does the priest Umbro have?
- Whom does Amata pretend has possessed her?
- Who is Allecto, and what is the Fury’s purpose? Does Allecto receive payment or bribe for this service, much like Aeolus did in Book I?
- What motives does Evander have for pledging his army to Aeneas in allegiance?
- What does Vulcan make for Aeneas on the Island of the Cyclops? Who delivers them to Aeneas?
- Are there parallels between Greek characters and the people Aeneas interacts with? Do these characters have a share or lineage to Aeneas?
- Turnus uses what as the reason the Rutulians should attack toward the Trojans?
- Why does Apollo intercede and speak to Ascanius?
- How does the Trojan fleet endure because of Venus and the building materials?What happens when the fleet is attacked by Turnus?
- Who does Jupiter help when the gods council about the warring Trojans and Italians?
- Why does Turnus tell Lausus to leave the battle?
- Who does Turnus confront alone when they are engaged against the Arcadians?
- Who is the female warrior, and what is her motive for fighting?
- Who kills Camilla, and who aids the Latins by telling them that Camilla is slain?
- What god inspires Tarchon to rally his troops “even against women”?
- Do you think the gods had “favorites” and do you think they regularly intervened or rather interacted with the threads of a man’s fate so frequently as this poem depicts? Also, does this ultimately mean that the gods’ choices pit their influences against each other?
- What sparks Aeneas’ anger at the sight of Turnus?
- What compromise is reached between Jupiter and Juno that endears Juno to the Trojans at last, and what happens to Turnus to help the war end?