Suggested Essay Topics
1. While the first six books of the Aeneid imitate in many ways Homer’s Odyssey, Aeneas is a very different man from Odysseus. What virtues does Aeneas possess? What methods does Virgil use to show Aeneas’ character? If possible, contrast Aeneas to the Homeric hero.
2. The gods play an important role in the Aeneid. How does Virgil use them? Describe the roles played in Book One by Juno, Jupiter, and Venus, both as actors and as vehicles for manipulating the audience.
1. While epithets are poetically necessary to fill out a meter, a good poet will use them to add to his work. What do Aeneas’ epithets reveal about his personality and his destiny?
2. Examine the encounter of Aeneas and Helen. Why does he wish to kill her? How does this episode affect your interpretation of Aeneas’ character? Would you exclude this passage from the Aeneid, and why?
1. As will be seen in Book 4, Aeneas’ story has only made him more attractive to Dido. What elements of Aeneas’ tale could she sympathize with? How has Aeneas been made to look great? What other portions of the tale could have drawn Dido closer to Aeneas? Draw from both Books 2 and 3.
2. Analyzing the prophecies of Aeneas’ future, show how they both predict and influence Aeneas’ actions. Does Aeneas still have free will?
1. There is much debate over Aeneas' "guilt" in the death of Dido. Is he responsible for her death? Toward whom is the reader’s sympathy drawn?
2. Virgil is fond of the language of the hunt. Discuss the role of hunting in the Aeneid. How do the roles of hunter and hunted define the characters of Dido and Aeneas? Be sure to draw from Virgil’s use of similes.
3. Dido comes to life brilliantly in this book, so much that she outshines Aeneas. Analyze the characterization of Dido, pointing out the many literary devices that Virgil uses...
(The entire section is 823 words.)