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Barron's Booknotes-The Aeneid by Virgil-Free Book Summary
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(I. 278-88)

You can imagine how much the Romans of Virgil's day enjoyed hearing that they were destined to rule forever! By making Jupiter predict the future, Virgil makes the past relevant to present-day Rome. We understand that this story, which seems to be about ancient history, will also tell us something about what kind of people the Romans are and how they got that way.

NOTE:

Iulus is one of the names of Aeneas' son. (His other name is Ascanius.) By showing the similarity between Iulus' and Julius Caesar's names, Virgil seems to be supporting Julius Caesar's claim that he was descended from the original Trojans. Some readers have said that the Aeneid is political propaganda for the emperors Julius and Augustus. In this passage you can certainly see their point.


Meanwhile Aeneas, who hasn't heard about the great things that will happen for his people, awakens the next day and explores the forest to try to determine what land he is in. A beautiful young girl, dressed like a huntress, appears and Aeneas immediately suspects she's a goddess. (Virgil tells us that she's Venus.) She tells Aeneas that he's landed near Carthage, which is ruled by a woman, Queen Dido. Dido fled to Carthage after her brother murdered her husband and she's remained unmarried ever since.

Can you guess what's about to happen? Dido and Aeneas have much in common. They both had to flee from home. They're lonely, and they're both the leaders of their people.

Venus wraps Aeneas in a cloud so that he walks into Carthage without being seen. The city is bustling and everybody seems happy. Aeneas remarks enviously,

Happy the men whose walls already rise!



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