Study Questions & Essay Topics
1. How negatively does Aeneas’s abandonment of Dido reflect on his character?
2. To what extent is the Aeneid a political poem? Is it propaganda?
3. What is the relationship in the Aeneid between an individual’s merit and the degree to which his or her personality is interesting? How might our estimation differ from Virgil’s?
Suggested Essay Topics
1. What is the role of dreams in the Aeneid?
2. How do you explain the surprise alterations of character and abrupt ending of Book XII? How does Book XII fit in with the rest of the Aeneid, with respect to both characters and plot?
3. Is the plot of the Aeneid driven more by the gods or by human characters? Does Aeneas, by himself, have the will to make it to Italy, or is it necessary for him to be prodded along the way?
4. Why do you think Virgil starts the story in the middle and then spends two chapters on Aeneas’s retrospective? What does he achieve with such a structure?
5. How do Aeneas’s piety and sense of duty change as the poem unfolds?
6. How does the behavior of the gods reflect on human qualities?
7. How are the various Italian peoples (Latins, Arcadians, Volscians) depicted, in relation to the Trojans and to each other?
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