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  • The Etruscans, who join Aeneas as allies, also claimed to have come from Asia Minor. Research the Etruscans and the ways in which they influenced the essential character of Roman society.
  • Can the wanderings of Aeneas and his Trojans be found to have any basis in fact? There are strong archaeological indications that many established kingdoms were in fact destroyed around the traditional date of the fall of Troy (circa 1193). Research this period and try to determine if there is any archaeological evidence for the legends of the Trojan refugees.
  • Virgil locates the origins of Rome and Carthage's long period of warfare in the goddess Juno's spiteful actions and Queen Dido's broken heart and suicide when Aeneas leaves her. Compare and contrast Virgil's imaginative account with the more concrete historical reasons behind the three Punic wars between Rome and Carthage.
  • Define the concept of a "hero" from your own point of view. Give historical or contemporary examples if they help explain your concept. Compare your idea of what it takes to be a hero with some traditional literary, legendary, or mythic considerations of what a hero must be, think, or do (handbooks of literary terms will supply some definitions). Discuss ways that Aeneas either lives up to or falls short of both your idea of a hero and the traditional view of one.
  • Virgil used plot elements and even characters from the earlier Odyssey and Iliad of the Greek poet Homer. Different generations of readers and critics have responded differently to this "borrowing." Discuss it from your own point of view. Are the events both wrote about large enough to support more than one literary retelling? Cite examples of this kind of "recycling" of themes and subjects from your own time.

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