The Aeneid

The Aeneid Essay Questions

  1. 1

    The many gods and goddesses in the Aeneid are invested with highly distinctive, often capricious personalities. Choose several deities with distinct characteristics, and compare how their efforts influence the lives of mortals. Which deity is the most powerful? Which has the most influence over Aeneas and his companions?

  2. 2

    Respect for one's ancestors is important to many characters in the Aeneid. How does Aeneas reveal his deep reverence for his forebears?

  3. 3

    Aeneas has been criticized by some for being "too perfect" of a hero. Are there any episodes where his limitations are revealed? Where does he seem to demonstrate flaws? Would a modern audience see flaws that Virgil's earliest readers might have overlooked in their founding hero?

  4. 4

    Many argue that Turnus is, in essence, a counterpart to Aeneas - one of the few characters with comparable strength and leadership abilities. Although it is easy to characterize Turnus as purely evil, do you think that Virgil intends him to be interpreted as wholly malevolent? What makes this character complex?

  5. 5

    There are numerous sacrifices and omens throughout the Aeneid. Select some of these and discuss their specifics: why are the particular elements of the sacrifice chosen? How effective is the sacrifice? What makes the omen especially resonant in that moment? Is the omen interpreted correctly by those who witness it?

  6. 6

    Dido is one of the most fascinating characters in the Aeneid. She knows that Aeneas is destined to build his kingdom elsewhere, but she refuses to accept the dictates of fate. To what extent is Dido a victim or responsible for her own tragedy, and in what ways does she share the characteristics of a hero?

  7. 7

    Aeneas is destined to sail to Italy and build a great new empire that will one day become Rome. There are numerous references throughout the Aeneid to the inevitability of fate. When are the episodes where fate might have been thwarted? Could Aeneas have abandoned or failed to fulfill his destiny? What are the limits of free will when the endpoint is already set?

  8. 8

    Many of the minor characters in the Aeneid, especially the mortal women (but not Dido or Camilla), are presented vaguely and as relatively uninteresting. But where would the story be without them? Discuss the potential and actual roles of some of the secondary characters.