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Barron's Booknotes-The Aeneid by Virgil-Free Book Summary
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11. The source of the anger in the Aeneid is Juno. She hates the Trojans (Book 1). But it isn't her anger alone that creates disorder. Juno's anger creates disorder because it goes against fate. The Trojans are fated to reach Italy and build a new city, but Juno is so angry that she can't stand this idea. Thus, she decides to fight fate, even though there is no way that she can win. All she can do is delay fate by causing trouble. You can see that the way Juno expresses her anger is irrational and that causes disorder. Other examples of uncontrolled anger that lead to disorder are Pyrrhus' attack on Priam (Book II), Dido's fury at Aeneas and decision to kill herself (Book IV), and Turnus' refusal to stop fighting (Book XI).

You might want to point out that not all anger leads to disorder. If the anger is rational, it can be a force for order. You see that when Jupiter loses his patience with the gods for interfering in the Trojans' affairs (Book X), he brings order rather than disorder. Similarly, when Aeneas kills Turnus, his anger ends the trouble that Turnus has caused.

12. Fate is the moving force in the Aeneid. From the very beginning of Book I you know that Aeneas must leave Troy and go to Italy because he is compelled by fate. You also know that Aeneas is fated to build a new city and even that the Roman Empire is fated to arise. No one, not even the gods, can change fate.

You'll want to discuss what effect fate has on the way men live their lives. Men must still struggle to discover their fates. Although Aeneas is destined to build his new city, it's a difficult task for him. Sometimes fate seems cruel or unfair. For example, Dido seems to be a victim of a very unlucky fate. Finally, you might want to discuss whether fate makes people the way they are or whether their fates result from the kinds of people they already are. For example, you could argue that Aeneas becomes a great leader because fate forces that role on him. (You could point out how in Books I- III he begins as a terribly unhappy and uncertain leader, but becomes a good leader by the end of the Aeneid.) Or you could argue that Aeneas reaches Italy and wins the war because he always had the qualities of a leader: great responsibility, determination, and strength.

13. On a literal level the gods are divine beings who are able to intervene in human affairs. They have personalities very much like human beings but are more powerful. They aren't completely benevolent-they have the same kinds of motivations that people do. For example, Juno becomes angry and vindictive. Venus, who wants her son to succeed, can be tricky and playful. (See Book 1.) The only god who seems more like our idea of a god, and less like a normal human being, is Jupiter, who is the king of the gods and more powerful than the others. He doesn't really take sides. He stands for order. He wants everything to go according to fate.

Men must pray to the gods if they want to succeed. For example, in Book V you can see that the boat captain, Cloanthus, wins because he prays to the gods for help. The gods can help or hurt men, but they can't change a man's basic fate.

On a symbolic level you can discuss how the gods seem to represent natural forces. For example, Juno always causes trouble by using natural elements: storms and fires. other gods seem to represent emotions that exist inside all of us. For example, Cupid (Book I) represents love, while Allecto (Book VII) represents anger and hatred.

14. Virgil uses fire imagery throughout the Aeneid to symbolize the destructive power of uncontrolled anger and passion. You could point to Book II where Troy is burning because of the angry attack of the Greeks (and the gods). You might mention how Dido's passion in Books I and IV is described as "burning," and you should talk about her funeral pyre, which Aeneas sees as he's sailing away. In Book V, the Trojan women set fire to the fleet after a goddess sent by Juno whips them into a frenzy. In Book VII, Allecto uses a torch to set Turnus on fire with passion for war and in Book IX, Turnus uses fire twice-once to try to burn the Trojan fleet, and once to burn down part of the Trojan fort.

15. First you would discuss how the Aeneid shows the early history of Rome from the fall of Troy in the 12th century B.C. to the first settlement by Aeneas. Then Book VI shows what happened from Aeneas' death to the time of Augustus.

You would also discuss how Virgil uses Aeneas as a model of a great Roman leader. You might also consider Book VIII, where Aeneas visits Evander at the future site of Rome, and learns basic Roman virtues such as the merits of a simple life, strength, and sound political judgment.

Finally you could show how the Aeneid reflects Roman political crises that happened during Virgil's time. For example, Aeneas ends the war in Italy just as Augustus ended the civil wars in Rome.

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