Lecture 15: Vergil Aeneid. 5-8.

Lecture 15,  Tuesday November 5th 2019

Look out for the following motifs/symbols: FLAME/FIRE, FURY, GOLD, WOUND, SNAKE. How do these motifs signal the dark side of empire?

Synopsis of Vergil’s Aeneid Books 5-9
from Williams (1996):

Book 5. The Trojans return to Sicily and celebrate funeral games for Aeneas’ father, Anchises, who had died there a year earlier [Aeneas mentions this in Book 3.710-715]. Juno causes Trojan women to set fire to the ships, but the fire is quenched by Jupiter. On the last stage of the journey the helmsman Palinurus is swept overboard by the god, Sleep.”

Book 6. The Trojans reach Italy at Cumae, and Aeneas descends with the Sibyl to the underworld in order to consult the ghost of his father Anchises. The future heroes of Roman history pass in a pageant before him, and he returns to the upper world in resolution.”

Book 7. The Trojans reach the Tiber, and are hospitably welcomed by King Latinus, who recognises that Aeneas is the stranger referred to in an oracle as the destined husband of his daughter Lavinia. She is already betrothed to Turnus the Rutulian, and Juno again intervenes to ensure that Turnus will fight the Trojans. War breaks out, and the book ends with a catalogue of the Italian forces assisting Turnus.”

Book 8. Aeneas visits Evander, an Arcadian living at Pallanteum on the site of Rome, to seek help. Evander sends his son Pallas at the head of the contingent of Arcadians. Venus has a new shield made for her son Aeneas, and the book ends with a description of the pictures from Roman history depicted on the shield — a reminder before the full-scale outbreak of hostilities of why Aeneas has to fight this war against Turnus, and what depends on it.”



Book 2, Creusa — wife

Book 3, Anchises — father

Book 4, Dido — lover (wife?)

Book 5, Palinurus — helmsman

Book 6, Misenus — friend

Book 7, Caieta — nurse

Book 5:

5.1: interea. “Meanwhile…”

5.45ff.: Funeral games for Anchises. Heroic world at play without fatal consequences. Aeneas = Achilles in Iliad 23, recovering sense of leadership.

5.72-103: Sacrifices at tomb of Anchises. Libations. Snake tastes offerings, disappears. Aeneas recognizes his father’s presence.

5.114-285: Ship race.

5.286-361: Foot race. Nisus trips Salius so that his friend Euryalus can win. (Nisus + Euryalus ~ real war of Book 9)

5.362-484: Boxing.

1) Terme Boxer. Bronze statue of a worn-out boxer, wearing the bronze statue of weary boxer wearing leather hand-wrap (caestus); rediscovered at Rome 1885. Image: Wikipedia. 2) Bronze hand with caestus from Verona Archaeological Museum. Image: Gareth Harney on twitter. 3) Two African boxers, 2nd or 1st c. BCE, terracotta. The advancing boxer leads with his left leg. The older, balding boxer staggers backwards from an upper cut. Image: British Museum.

5.485-544: Archery.

5.545-603: lusus Troiae. Troy Game. Labyrinth simile (5.589-591). Maze-like equestrian manoeuvres performed by youths. Known from the time of Sulla (Plut. Cato Minor 3). Revived by Julius Caesar (Suet. Iul. 39). Augustus made this a regular institution performed by noble boys (Suet. Aug. 43). Iulus introduces this intricate ceremony to Alba Longa (5.596-600).



Etruscan oinochoe from Tragliatella near Caere (7th c. BCE) “clearly features two horseback riders, the drawing of a maze, the word TRUIA, and two copulating couples” (Miller 2000: 235). The vase shows that the connection between rituals on horseback and labyrinths existed prior to Vergil. The word TRUIA here probably refers to movement or dancing rather than Troy (the old Latin words amptruare, redamptruare refer to specific, sacral dances, Williams 1996: 433-434). Images: archart.it.

5.571: Iulus rides the Sidonian horse, a gift from Dido.

5.604-63: Juno sends Iris.  Trojan women to burn the ships.

5.664-99: Fire quenched by rain from Jupiter. All but four ships are saved.

5.700-45: Aeneas doubts himself, considers staying in Sicily. Nautes’ advice. Anchises appears in a dream.

5.746-778: A new city is founded in Sicily with a temple to Venus at Eryx. Anchises’ tomb gets a priest.

5.779-826: Venus complains to Neptune. Neptune says one life must be lost.

5.827-871: Palinurus the helsman thrown into the sea by Sleep.

Aeneid Book 6:

6.1: sic fatur lacrimans…” He spoke in tears…”

6.9-39: Temple of Apollo. The doors of Daedalus. The Sibyl. NO TIME FOR GAWKING.

6.136-155: 1) Get the Golden Bough. 2) Bury your friend (Misenus).

6.146-148: “Pluck it. It should fall gladly in your hand, | If fate has summoned you. If not, your whole strength | Will fail — you will not tear it off with hard steel.”

6.211: cunctantem — it hesitates!

6.337-83: Underworld. Palinurus. =’Sorry you’re dead. Have some fame.’ cf. 6.776: “The famous names of places nameless now.”

6.456-472: Underworld. Dido.

6.494-545: Underworld. Deiphobus.

6.566-627: Underworld. Tartarus.


Jan Brueghel the Younger, “Aeneas and the Sibyl in the Underworld” (1630s). Image: Met Museum.

6.679ff.: Underworld. Anchises.

6.756: “Come, hear your destiny, and the future glory”

6.777: Romulus

6.788-794: “– your Romans:
Caesar, and all of Iulus’ offspring, destined
To make their way to heaven’s splendid heights.
Here is the man so often promised you,
Augustus Caesar, a god’s son, and bringer
Of a new age of gold to Saturn’s old realm
Of Latium.”

6.851: Romane, memento — “Roman, remember”

6.853: parcere subiectis et debellare superbos — “spare the conquered, strike down the haughty”

6.861-886: Marcellus. Son of Octavia, Augustus’ sister, who married Augustus’ daughter Julia, was marked as Augustus’ heir, but died at age 19 in 23 BCE. Later sources tell a story of Octavia bursting into tears when Vergil read this passage to her and Augustus.

6.889: “lust for glory in the future.”

6.893: Gates of Sleep — Horn (true), Ivory (false). Ivory. 😮 — ideology of empire is a false dream, with false values?


At the end of Aeneid 6, Aeneas and the Sibyl leave through the ivory gate – the gate of false dreams. Illustrated by MS Vat. lat. 3225 (schedae Vaticanae), folio 57, recto (4th c CE). Image.

Aeneid Book 7:

7.1-4: Death of Caieta (now modern Gaeta).

“Caieta, you as well, Aeneas’ nurse,
Gave lasting fame, in dying, to our shores.
The great West keeps your resting place today
In glory — if there’s glory in the grave.(Aen. 7.1-4; trans. Ruden p144)

7.37-45: Second preface, indicates that Vergil considered the poem to fall into two halves. Invocation of Muse, Erato (Muse of lyric poetry). cf. Aen. 1.8: “Muse, tell me why.”

7.44-45: “This is a higher story starting, | a greater work for me.”

7.45-106: Portents. Lavinia is destined to marry a foreigner.

7.52-57: Lavinia’s mother wants her to marry Turnus, Italian prince. 7.55: “Handsomest was Turnus.” 7.56-57: “Latinus’ consort [Amata] | was ardent” = Amata’s susceptibility to furor. 

7.58-70: “holy signs, each with its terrors.” Laurel tree 🌳 (~ Laurentum) + the bees 🐝.

7.68-70: Augur’s interpretation. 7.70: “new lords in your tower.”

7.71-80: 🔥 Fire in Lavinia’s hair. 7.79-80: “Prophets foretold a glorious destiny | For her, but for the people a great war.”

7.81-101: Latinus consults the oracle of his father, Faunus. 7.96-99: “My child, don’t seek alliance with the Latins | For your daughter — though a wedding is at hand. | Foreigners will arrive, and intermarriage | Will raise our name to heaven.”

7. 116-118: The Trojans eat their tables. 7.116: “Iulus said, ‘Look at us, eating our tables!'” Fulfilling the oracle given to Aeneas by Calaeno the Harpy (3.250f. = Aeneas would not found his city until hunger made Trojans eat their tables)

7.155: Trojans approach King Latinus in peace.

7.245: Trojans give King Latinus gifts from Troy, including Priam’s scepter. The Latins become the Trojans, the Trojans become the Greeks.

7.286-322: Juno is still angry.

7.324-355: the Fury Allecto.

7.360-364: Amata compares Aeneas to Paris.

7.377-384: Amata’s fury. Spinning top simile.

7.413-474: Allecto and Turnus.

7.476-521: Ascanius shoots the tame Italian deer.

7.601-620: Juno opens the Temple of Janus. 7.606: “To claim our standards from the Parthians”

7.641-817: Invocation of muse. Catalogue of Italian warriors. Last comes Camilla (7.803-817) warrior woman.

Aeneid Book 8:

8.81-85: Aeneas sees the white sow with 30 piglets.

8.184-279: Evander of Pallanteum. Feast of Hercules. Story of Hercules and Cacus. Ara Maxima.

8.370-453: Venus asks Vulcan to make new armour for Aeneas.

8.454-607: Evander asks Aeneas to lead the war against Mezentius and Turnus.

8.608-731: Venus brings the armour to Aeneas. The shield is described.

8.615-616: “The Cytherean embraced her son, then set | the arms beneath an oak, in all their splendor.”

8.625-629: “the shield — work beyond telling of.
There the god of fire had etched Italian history
And Roman triumphs, from the prophecies
He knew: all of Ascanius’ line to come,
And every war the clan would fight, in sequence.”

8.630: she-wolf + twins

8.635: Sabine women

8.675-729: Battle of Actium.

8.730: miratur rerumque ignarus imagine gaudet | “Aeneas loved these scenes on Vulcan’s shield | His mother’s gift — but didn’t know the stories.”

Further Reading:


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